The first year I was married, my parents flew from Long Island, New York to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Christmas. They came to snowdrifts and icy winds. Still, my parents enjoyed their visit, the city, and the unusual Minnesota activities like ice fishing.

But they didn’t enjoy my Christmas cookies. I baked a variety of treats in preparation for your visit. After dinner, I brought a plate of cookies to the table and my mother ate a couple. “They all taste the same,” she said. “You shouldn’t have stored different cookies in the same container.” You can bet I never made this mistake again.

Since that Christmas many years ago, I have baked thousands of cookies: bars, drop, meringue, molded, stamped, soft, pressed, ice cream, and rolled, which are also called cut-outs. My storage methods depend on the type of cookie. I have also made no-bake cookies, chow mein noodles and dried fruit coated with melted chocolate, and broken pretzels with dried fruit, also coated with melted chocolate.

When you think about storage, think about the main categories: soft, crunchy, and bars. Buy your ingredients and storage containers well in advance. I have used decorated tins, coffee cans, wide mouth Mason jars, plastic containers with screw tops, and plastic containers with snap-on sides. Wash all containers with hot, soapy water before use.

Soft cookies are fun to make because of their cake-like dough and icing. I have made soft orange mounds with fresh orange juice glaze. If you make a soft cookie like this, keep it in a single layer to avoid damaging the frosting. The unglazed variety can be stored in layers in an airtight container, with wax paper between the layers.

Crisp cookies should be stored in a container with a lid or non-fitting lid, in accordance with the Pillsbury Complete Cookbook. A decorative jar can do the trick. I’ve had several of them and the lids didn’t fit well, perfect for the batches I made. A Christmas tin can also work.

Experience has taught me to be very careful with meringue cookies. The goal of storage is to keep moisture away from them. Use the tightest container you can find, such as a snap-sided plastic box or special jars. Glass and plastic jars with snap-on lids are available at discount stores.

Bars are a different story. Minnesotans love making bars because they’re easy, quick, and tasty. Unlike meringues, your storage goal with bars is to keep them moist. Leave the uncut bars on the baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Cut just before serving. These treats also freeze well.

Remember the tip from the Pillsbury cookbook: “Use a separate container for each variety of cookies to avoid mixing flavors.” Happy holidays and happy meals to you and your family!

Copyright 2013 by Harriet Hodgson

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