'Tis the season for sifting, baking, decorating – and sugar tasting. 

But before you start cooking up a storm for your baking swap, consider these three tips:

  1. Avoid recipes that are too finicky. Sandwich cookies and more ornate, decorated cookies tend to take forever when you're charged with making 10 dozen of them. Plus, the fragile ones tend to break. The same goes for cookies covered in caramel or dusted in icing sugar. They don’t travel well and as they bounce around – and often wind up not as pretty as when they began!
  2. Don’t try something completely new. My neighbours get together for a cookie swap every year. Every year, someone tries a new recipe. Inevitably, the "experimental baker" doubles or triples the batch in an attempt to bake faster.  Sadly, it often winds up in disaster (albeit a delicious one!)
  3. Package your cookies separately, rather than toss a bunch of different kinds in one big container or tin. It is particularly important to avoid storing soft and crisp cookies together. The crisp ones will absorb moisture from the moist ones and the moist ones will dry out. Plus, all the different cookies tend to take on each other's flavours. I pick up glass jars with rubber seals from the dollar store. I find them more useful after the holidays than Christmas tins, which wind up piling up in the basement.

Share your holiday baking tips in the comments section below.

Julie van Rosendaal is CBC Calgary's food and nutrition columnist. For all of her recipes click here.