Holiday Make Ahead Party Desserts


I love baking for the holidays (and our annual Christmas party) and today I am sharing three of my favorite holiday make-ahead party desserts.

Today is day eight of Twelve Days of Getting Ready For Christmas. I have teamed up with my dear friend KariAnne from Thistlewood (scroll down for a link to her post or click here) and I am sharing my favorite make-ahead party desserts. KariAnn is sharing five of the BEST food gifts for Christmas.

Frosted Sugar Cookies
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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!

Make Ahead Holiday Desserts

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

The answer is simple.

Think about how crazy things get in the month of December. Consider there may be multiple times when you may need a last-minute gift, you want to spoil your kids who are home for the holidays, or maybe you just want to impress the family with some fun holiday desserts.

All that means is you might want to do some baking now.

And have fresh-baked Christmas treats on hand for so many occasions.

Make Ahead Christmas Cookies

I have three recipes to share with you today. Every year I make these three recipes for our Christmas party. I usually bake them the first week in December and freeze them until the day of the party.

This year our party is December 23rd!

The three desserts are Frosted Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars.

You might have noticed how I served my desserts at our party. I wrapped up a few empty boxes and served the cookies on top of the gifts!

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

I baked and decorated all of these sugar cookies previously for our Christmas party. You need to know this was my second attempt at decorating sugar cookies with Royal Icing. It takes patience but it’s really not that hard.

For years I frosted my sugar cookies with buttercream frosting. While they don’t look as nice, the taste of buttercream frosting certainly makes up for it. If you don’t want to use royal icing then use buttercream frosting.

You can also use many different cookie cutters to make sugar cookies. I love this tree-shaped cookie cutter and the snowflake cutter. I love these vintage ornament cookie cutters and all of these assorted ornaments too.

If you want to find out how to decorate cookies with Royal Icing, read my blog post here. You can also watch the video below.

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.

On this blog, I may sometimes use affiliate links, which means a small commission is earned if you purchase via the link. The price will be the same whether you use the affiliate link or go directly to the vendor’s website using a non-affiliate link.

Tips for Freezing Holiday Desserts

What is the best container to freeze cookies in?

All cookies should be placed in airtight containers before freezing. Place sheets of parchment or waxed paper in between the layers of cookies.

What is the best way to freeze cookies so they don’t get freezer burn?

Make sure cookies are completely cooled before freezing. Freeze cookies with a layer of waxed or parchment paper in between them.

How far in advance can you freeze Christmas cookies?

As long as they are stored correctly, most cookies can be stored for up to three months.

Is it better to freeze cookie dough or baked cookies?

You can freeze already baked cookies. Personally, I think warm cookies are the best, so if you can, freeze the dough in advance. But don’t worry if you don’t.

How do you thaw frozen cookies?

Take the cookies out of the container and spread them out until they come to room temperature. Decorate or serve.

Peanut Butter Fudge

peanut-butter-fudge-recipe (1)

I have made this peanut butter fudge for at least twenty years and it was my dad’s favorite. Every time I make this fudge I remember him fondly and cherish how happy he was when I would bring him a piece to enjoy.

I have another friend who loves this fudge and I always bring him a special tin of peanut butter fudge every Christmas. Of course, I will be gifting him some again this year.

Yield: 16 pieces

The Best Ever Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

This is a sweet and salty fudge consisting of a peanut butter graham cracker crust topped with melted chocolate.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1 16 oz. box of powdered or confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 8 oz. jar chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butter


  1. Mix the first four ingredients. Press into a 6" x 6" square baking pan.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the one stick of butter with chocolate over low heat. Stir until smooth. Pour chocolate over peanut butter mixture, smoothing with a spatula. Refrigerate twenty minutes. Cut into 1" squares and refrigerate until firm.

This fudge freezes really well and I love that my boys can pop a piece (or two, or three) out of the freezer and eat it right away.

For the complete details on how to make this amazing fudge, head to my blog post here.


Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars

Coconut Bars

If you like Almond Joy bars then these Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars might just be your favorite. They are a big hit amongst our kids and they freeze really well.


They are very easy to make and might not even last long enough to go in the freezer. Ha!

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

Enjoy the cookies and have fun filling your freezer with holiday desserts to get ready for the holidays!

KariAnne’s Getting Ready for Christmas Post

My dear friend KariAnne at Thistlewood Farms is sharing her post titled 5 Of the BEST Food Gifts For Christmas.

5 Of the BEST Food Gifts For Christmas

Ever wonder what to get the friend who has everything? Food gifts are one of the best ways to show someone how special they are. Here are 5 of the BEST food gifts for Christmas.

If you missed any of my Twelve Days of Getting Ready for Christmas, you can find them here:

You can also find KariAnne’s amazing blog posts here:

Holiday Inspiration

Click on the photo. How wonderful are these?

Watch My Amazon Live

Click here to watch any of my Amazon Live shows. All shows are recorded.

This live show is titled Everything You Need for a Holiday Party.

Click here to watch the show.

A Home to Share, by Leslie Saeta

Pin the image below to your Holiday Desserts or Christmas boards on Pinterest (just click the Pin button in the top left corner). You can also follow along with me on Pinterest!

Make Ahead Holiday Desserts

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  1. The recipes sound and look delicious…especially the fudge and chocolate almond coconut bars ( chocoholic here!!). But what I’m most impressed with is your innovative way of serving them….wrapped packages. So adorable and creative!!! You are one talented lady!

  2. All looks yummy!! But I am intrigued by the top picture and the oreo/peppermint looking cookie. More details please 🙂

  3. Hi Leslie! Love your blog! I have learned a lot from you. Thank you! What do you mean chunky peanut butter? Crunchy? I want to make your peanut butter fudge recipe please.

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