Make Ahead Christmas Sweets for the Dessert Table


It’s Day Nine of Twelve Days to Get Ready for Christmas! Today I am sharing my favorite make-ahead Christmas sweets recipes.

I love to have some sweets made ahead and hidden away so that if guests drop by, I am ready and you will be too!

Make Ahead Sweets

You might want to turn on your oven.

And clean out some space in your freezer.

Because I have some amazing make-ahead holiday desserts to share with you!

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Make-Ahead Christmas Sweets

holiday house tour

Make ahead Christmas sweets are the best for the holidays.

I am sure you are asking yourself, “Why do I need to think about this now”?

The answer is simple.

December is crazy!

It is very easy to get lost in the sheer number of things to do in December. On top of our regular, everyday lives of school, work, and sports, we add decorating our homes for the holidays, shopping for gifts, wrapping and sending gifts, and writing Christmas cards. And we haven’t even gotten to the fun stuff yet. The visit to Santa, Christmas pageants, Open Houses, and Christmas parties. Evenings spent driving through neighborhoods singing Christmas carols and looking at Christmas lights. Yikes, that is a lot of things to do!

So, let’s get baking now, get everything tucked into the freezer and check it off of our list!

Come December, all you have to do is pop some out of the freezer, and defrost so you will have Christmas treats ready to go. And here is a little secret … I make all of the sweets for our annual Christmas party about a month ahead of the party.

I have done this for years.

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Christmas Kitchen Tour

Three Favorite Sweets Recipes

I have three recipes to share with you today. We have had an annual Christmas party for over 30 years. I serve heavy appetizers and also set up a dessert table. These three recipes are favorites of our family and friends and I think you will love them too.

My three favorite sweets are Frosted Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars.

I usually bake them in late November or early December and freeze them until the day of the party. Below is a photo where you can see all three desserts displayed on packages on my dessert table from our Christmas party a few years ago.

It was such a fun way to display my homemade desserts!

I cut the Peanut Butter Fudge and Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars into small serving sizes so that my guests don’t feel guilty when they stroll by the dessert table. the smaller sizes provide guilt-free bites throughout the evening!

Christmas Party Desserts on Packages

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Frosted Sugar Cookies

I have made sugar cookies for years. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I tried decorating with Royal Icing. Can I just say I loved it?

Sugar Cookies

Look how many different Frosted Sugar Cookies I have made over the last two years!

Yield: 24 cookies

The Best Sugar Cookies

Frosted Sugar Cookies

This sugar cookie recipe is my go-to recipe every time. It's almost flawless!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten free 1 to 1 or measure to measure flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 1 TBL lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated.

    With the mixer running, add egg, milk, lemon, and vanilla; mix until incorporated. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

    On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

    Decorate with Royal Icing.


I made this recipe with measure to measure gluten-free flour. The Xantham gum is included in the flour and the cookies came out perfectly.

Click here for my Royal Icing Recipe.

Peanut Butter Fudge

peanut-butter-fudge-recipe (1)

My peanut butter fudge is very easy to make. I think I have been making it for about thirty years. This is one of the recipes at our party that if I didn’t make it, well, there might be a lot of unhappy guests.

I have a few friends that get a box of my Peanut Butter Fudge for Christmas. It’s just a fun and unexpected treat. It was also my dad’s favorite dessert. That makes my heart so happy.

Yield: 24 pieces

Peanut Butter Fudge


Delicious chocolate and peanut butter fudge.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 16 oz. box powdered sugar
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 8 oz. jar chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 12 oz. package chocolate chips
  • 1 stick butter


  1. Mix first four ingredients. Press into a 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Chill one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, melt chocolate with 1 stick butter over low heat.
  3. Pour over peanut butter mixture, smoothing with spatula. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Cut into 1" squares and refrigerate until firm.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars


If you like Christmas sweets, then this might be the make-ahead dessert for you. It is kind of like an amazing upgrade of an Almond Joy candy bar. When I was a kid, the aforementioned bars were my absolute favorite. So you can only imagine why I added these Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars to my party menu.

They really are good.

Yield: 48 bars

Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars

Coconut Bars
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 32 minutes
Total Time 52 minutes


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted*
  • Milk Chocolate Ganache
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 11 1/2 ounce package milk chocolate pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of the pan. Lightly coat foil with cooking spray. In a large bowl stir together melted butter, sugar, and 1 tsp. of the vanilla until combined. Stir in eggs until combined.
  2. In another bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 12 minutes or just until set. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, for filling, in a large bowl combine coconut, condensed milk, the remaining 1 tsp. vanilla, and the almond extract.
  4. Spread filling over baked chocolate layer; sprinkle with almonds. Carefully spread the remaining chocolate batter over the filling. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the chocolate layer is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  5. To make the Milk Chocolate Ganache, place chocolate pieces into a medium bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan bring whipping cream just to boiling. Immediately pour cream over chocolate in a bowl. Let stand, without stirring, 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  6. Spoon ganache over cooled bars, spreading evenly. Chill for at least 1 hour or until ganache is firm. Use edges of foil to lift uncut bars out of the pan. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars.


Place bars in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


To toast nuts, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread nuts in a shallow baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until nuts are just golden, stirring once or twice. Let cool.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

one bar

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187Total Fat: 10 ggSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 28 mggUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 6 gmgSodium: 98 mgmgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 19 gg

Getting Ahead of the Holidays

I hope that these recipes are ones that you can adopt and love as much as I do. The fact that you can make them ahead is really just a bonus. One thing that you can cross off of your to-do list before December even gets here!

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Make Ahead Christmas Sweets for the Dessert Table

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  1. Leslie–
    Could you please do a blog entry on how you so perfectly frost your iced cookies? I have watched a video but you must have some tricks on how to make it look so perfect–maybe special tools??? Mine look like a 5 yr old did it with a 3 in paint brush. Thanks for sharing your yummy recipes and your creativity!

  2. I am really enjoying all of these ideas to make Christmas less stressful. Could you please share the heavy appetizers you serve at your open house and how you serve them festively?
    Thank you.

  3. You are one of the most talented bloggers I have read. Multi talented, making beautiful items and decorating from cookies to your house. I love to read to see what you have for me to see today. Keep up all the beautiful decorations and food directions so I can do it also.

  4. Leslie, I enjoy your blog posts so much! I have been Thinking about ahead sweet treats lately so this post is indeed timely. I would love it if you could elaborate on how you actually freeze the goodies for maximum freshness and keep them protected. I also liked the comment regarding how to ice the cookies to look more professional. Thanks so much and happy baking!

    1. Hi Vicki! Oh thank you, that’s so sweet! So what you need to do is make sure the cookies are in an airtight container and the lid is secure. You can freeze them for a few months! Just take them out of the freezer and while frozen put them on cookie rack to thaw. Enjoy ☺️

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