Some have been handed down in my family for generations. Some have been collected from friends, and a few are my own creations. No matter where the recipe originates from, these are my favorites to bake and more importantly eat!
When building your holiday cookie tray try to remember the following few things:
Size: I prefer cookies which can be eaten in 1 or two bites. Smaller cookies allow a person to eat standing up easier, try more cookies without the worry of over doing it, bake in a shorter time frame, and look nice when plated up.
Variety: Cookies can easily blend together taste wise if not careful. You want at least half your cookies to have a bold or striking flavor to them. Things like orange, peppermint, anise, or ginger really make cookies stand out. I try to have at least 2 mild flavor cookies, 2 simple basic cookies (sugar ect), 4 bold cookies, and 4 cookies with mix-ins (chocolate chips ect).
Presentation: Just like flavor cookies can easily blend together in appearance. The use of food coloring is often seen when making Christmas cookies as a way to change it up. I try to have at least 4 fully colored cookies, 4 mildly colored or decorated cookies, and 4 plain to help break up the tray.
Timing: Most cookies are best when eaten in a 5-7 day window. Some must be stored in airtight containers to avoid turning into hard rocks. When planning out your cookie trays, watch the "shelf life" and bake accordingly. I honestly set aside one or two nights where I will bake 5-6 types at once. Although this makes for a good six hour baking spree, the cookies are done in a few days before serving.
Freezing: I know several people who bake and freeze a few weeks to months in advance. This is not my recommended way to go, I do not like the flavor after freezing. I feel the cookies loose a little something but, to everyone is different.
With these few tips and tricks in mind, I hope your baking goes smoothly. And I hope you enjoy your holiday season, perhaps a few of these recipes will become your family's favorites.