25 years ago a small core group of women in my family decided to start a “bake-off” (this may be a repeat of a few other blog posts on my sister/personal blog HERE so I apologize if it is). My aunt Donna was pregnant with my cousin Cole (who since went on to play for an and graduate from Southern Miss and is now coaching football at a cc – I photographed his wedding not too long ago to Alexis, who is a Saintsation HERE) so every year that is how we gauge how long it has been going on (moms have no brain power left to calculate otherwise lol). This year was the 25th year and I was the host. This is an amazing tradition to start if you have aunts and daughters or just friends that you want to do something fun and unique for the holidays with.
For ours we rotate homes each year so someone different is a host each year. We start by giving one another a small gift (usually baking related but not necessarily; this can range from my favorite vanilla [my signature gift that I try to pick up when I am in places like Mexico] to pot holders or glasses or whatever). We arrive and bring our stuff in (bringing everything necessary for our particular recipes including ingredients, baking sheets, mixers, etc.) and get settled in our “workstations” then distribute and open our bake-off gifts.
And then we begin each baking our own recipes. We “call” the oven or, if we are lucky enough, ovens. This begins at about 9 am with Christmas music or football playing in the background. We sip mimosas (you HAVE to watch the the video at least mid-way to see those shenanigans) and laugh and just have fun together. We back anywhere from 2-4 “bakes” which require the oven and then sometimes 1-3 “no-bakes” that could be anything from chocolate covered pretzels to different candies and such (Olivia’s snowmen were, by far, the prettiest no-bakes ever).
At the end of the day, with dining room tables full plus fold out tables full of stacks and stacks of cookies we equally distribute (fight over) the cookies. At home we all pack them with care into cookie tins to give out to those who know our tradition and specifically request their tins and those who are new to it and get their first tin of bake-off cookies.
Honestly this is probably my favorite tradition each year-it has transcended kids and husbands and life events and everything you can imagine and continues to take place each year. I love spending my day laughing til my stomach hurts and talking about inappropriate things (we think we are VERY funny) and just bonding with the women in my family. They are who made me who I am and I am thankful each year for each and every one of them and I love this time together. I hope that I can continue this with my girls and my boy’s wives (oh LAWD) and their children each Christmas.