Exactly one year ago this month I put on my big girl pants and tossed out all my instant cake boxes…I was going to learn to bake if it killed me. I am anything but a rule follower, so baking and I never really got along for the simple reason that I loathed the idea of measuring everything and following a recipe to the letter. It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but even harder to be the one person on earth that has not idea how to bake a cake from scratch. While I would not say that I can win a blind taste test with Nigella, I can impress my children and that, my darling, is what it is all about. Over the last year I have been hosting baking parties, and this month I am hosting my largest party yet to celebrate finally being able to bake a cake with a certain confidence that can only come from the transition of baking countless dry, flat cakes to finally mastering the light fluffy beauties that people want to eat.
With the holiday season upon us, now is the perfect time to host a baking party, and here are my top 10 tips for hosting a party the rises to the occasion of a beautify holiday cake.
- Keep an eye on guest count. Consider your kitchen and how many people it will accommodate and build your guest count around that.
- Select your recipes in advance. Knowing how many people will be attending and what you will be baking allows you to buy the ingredients ahead of time, ensuring that the focus is on the baking and not on the logistics.
- Create recipe invites. Rather than sending out a standard invitation, send a post card with one of the recipes printed on the front to give them a hint of what is to come and a keepsake for future baking adventures.
- BYO. If you do not have enough measuring cups, mixing bowls, baking sheets, parchment paper and other essential tools for baking, ask guests to BYO to the party.
- Opt out of hostess gifts. Rather than accept a hostess gift, ask your guests to bring their favorite recipe printed on a card for each guest attending. It will keep the theme of the night focused on baking, and give your guests an added take away at the end of the night.
- Create baking stations. An hour before your guests arrive, set up baking stations with all the ingredients and recipes to hand to ensure that there are no delays in the baking process.
- Compile a holiday play list: Everyone loves to cook to music, and creating a play list of festive holiday songs is a great way to get everyone in the holiday baking spirit.
- Serve a party punch. Set up a cocktail bar with a pitcher of sangria or mulled wine that allows your guests to self serve, making it easier for you when setting up the party and hosting it.
- Serve baked goods. Set up a baking bar with cookies, mini pies and holiday breads that keep your guests sweet tooth at bay and make snacking easy for your guests.
- Send off. Be sure to have plenty of baking boxes, gift bags, parchment paper, jute rope and other supplies needed to wrap up the baked goods and take them home.