Cris Kennedy loves to bake, and has turned it into her home-based business, Cookies by Cris.
Over the years she has baked, she's learned some lessons and tips and is passing them along to Patch readers to help them with their holiday baking.
Make what you like. Is there a cookie that you can't imagine the holidays without? Don't worry if it's not a popular kind of cookie. More for you!
Give the gift of cookies. Are you going to visit a someone for an afternoon? Bring a little plate of cookies. "Everyone's eyes light up when they see homemade cookies," Kennedy said.
Shop sales. Kennedy buys lots of butter when it's on sale in the fall, and freezes it for her Christmas baking. She also hits the post-Christmas sales for everything from cookie tins to cookie cutters.
You don't need fancy equipment. No pastry bag? Use a zipper-lock plastic bag with a tiny hole snipped in a corner instead. Those little spreaders for cheese are perfect for spreading icing on cookies.
Know your oven. Ovens can be imprecise. Some will bake cookies faster. Keep an eye on the cookies and see how fast they cook compared to the time indicated in the recipe.
Clean as you go. Kennedy fills her sink with warm, soapy water before she starts baking. As stuff gets dirty, into the sink it goes. The soaking makes things easy to clean, and it keeps the counter uncluttered so you can use it for other tasks like rolling out dough or cooling cookie sheets.
Dip your cutters in flour when cutting out cookies. It makes a neater edge and cookies will hold their shape better.
Use gel food coloring rather than liquid for icing. It's neater, Kennedy said. Less is needed, and the color is more intense. Gel food coloring is available at craft stores and baking supply shops.
What's your favorite Christmas cookie? Tell us in the comments.
For more information on Cookies by Cris, contact Kennedy at 440-617-9795 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.