5 Festive Desserts for "That Specific Person"

Every year around this time, there is one thing I must do every year once the holiday season is at its peak and I’m about as calm as Buddy The Elf. I love baking more than what is probably a "healthy amount," and I’m not one to pass up the opportunity to share that love. Although I can’t cover all the people we see throughout the holidays, here’s a quick list to get you started on some very necessary baking themes!

  1. 1. Treat: Peanut Butter Blossoms

    Purpose: To Thank Neighbors for Shoveling Your Driveway

    This is actually a true story! Over the holidays, I was the first one home from work, so I had to shovel the driveway. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but this was the same day as this massive snowstorm. So I was out there doing my best to pull in the driveway, but my trusty shared decade-old, the hand-me-down car can only do so much. After I started shoveling, I must have looked like the most ridiculous shoveler, trying to move this small and well-used shovel with all my might, while simultaneously trying to not slip on ice. Then our neighbor comes through with this snowplow, and I just felt bad that he had to go around my very out of place car in the middle of the sidewalk. Then he started going in our driveway, and I swear I could’ve cried. As you can imagine, it was quite a long day, so seeing some so graciously help was something I truly appreciated. Peanut butter cookies have been my favorite since I was little, so that’s normally my go-to. I also feel like you kind of get a bonus because of the little Hershey's Kiss on top!

  2. 2. Treat: Those Holiday Cookie Platters

    Purpose: To Use As Last-Minute Gifts

    We’ve all fallen victim to last-minute, “Oh, you got me a gift?” surprises. Any sweets will do in those instances, however, if you want to be festive and give the added element of variety, I’m always a fan of those people that just go all out for the holidays and make all kinds of cookies. Every year, I really want to do it, but time is just never on my side. I normally tap out after three or four batches of different kinds, but to those people that have the patience and great desire to bake dozens of different kinds of baked sweets, you’re the real holiday hero. I also feel like this is the perfect last-minute gift! Especially in the past few years, my friends and I have resorted to baking quite a bit because we’re all going to college, so money’s kind of tight, and who doesn’t love a good chocolate-covered Oreo? It’s also a great secret Santa gift, especially if you don’t know the person that well! Overall, it’s a great way to surprise someone and taste test too many sweets.

  3. 3. Treat: Cranberry-Orange Scones

    Black Coffee Pastry Fellini

    Purpose: To Calm the Christmas Morning Early-Risers

    As a former Christmas morning early-riser, I can proudly say I no longer force my family up at 4 a.m. and now I at least eat breakfast. Scones get entirely too little credit for how tasty they are, especially when the flavor is just right, so here’s their very well-deserved shout-out. As many years of babysitting has taught me, kids love sugar, so I’ve learned to not only embrace it but learn from it! This past summer, I had the absolute privilege to help this family as my job, which is exactly as much of a dream as it sounds. I love baking and I love kids, so guess what we did all summer? They still get excited to show me what they bake whenever I see them, which I think is the best reward (along with the hugs, of course). Anyway, although I never made scones with them. Chocolate chip cookies have a quicker bake time and are easier to involve kids with, so that was often their choice. I think it’s a great alternative as breakfast and serves a great purpose for both generations. The parents get to enjoy a scone with some coffee because, let's be honest, as wonderful as the holidays are, they’re immensely long. Then, the kids get some sugar in them before opening gifts and beginning the celebrations. The reason I chose this one over other sweets for kids is that, honestly, they’re going to be getting all sugared up all day anyway, and no one needs to crash too soon, and this way, they’re getting at least something moderately healthy in them. As an added bonus, you get coffee with a sweet that you can share.

  4. 4. Treat: Pretzel M&M Hugs

    baking ingredients on a table next to a cupcake tray

    Purpose: For the Easy-Way-Outers Who Know What’s Good

    This is kind of the cop-out for people that want to bake but procrastinate like it’s sole purpose in life (*raises hand*). To be fair, the holidays are hard, and sometimes the easy way out is the only way out. So strap in, because this sweet is a full five steps and includes all of three ingredients. You can even switch out the chocolate base you use and get creative with it. This is another treat I highly recommend with kids because they get to do the fun part of putting the layers on and seeing the creations grow. It’s simple but effective every time, and I assure you no one will know the wiser.

  5. 5. Treat: Festive-Themed Efforts

    Purpose: To Entertain the Grandmas Who Say “Isn’t that the cutest thing?”

    I’m aware of how eerily similar this is to number two, however, the difference lies in theme! I once made sugar cookies to look like reindeer Pillsbury wrapper-style, and we’ll just say they looked more like flattened reindeer from the song "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." However, that’s not the point! These desserts are for the cheesecake Santa hat lovers and properly-decorated gingerbread men spectators. This category is for the people that go above and beyond, despite the somewhat tumultuous turnout. They go for it shamelessly, and you know what? I can respect that! Because at the end of the day, as long as it’s not too burnt and is at least somewhat tasty, your grandma will still say it’s the best sugar cookie reindeer she’s ever seen, even if it does look a bit ran over. The point of this category is to try your best and go for the participation award, so bust out your looped Mariah Carey "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and have a great time.

At the end of the day, the holidays can be many things, but hopefully joyful is one of them! Baking anything, whether it be Gordon Ramsey approved or a slightly gruesome-looking reindeer, having a good time is the goal. If you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re doing it wrong. So, no matter who you go through this holiday season, please make sure you put yourself first and bake your dessert-loving heart out!