December is a magical month in my kitchen. Every fall, I pore over my cookbook collection, marking new recipes to add to my holiday baking list. I make my mom’s sugar cookies. I take inventory of my butter supply on the daily. Holiday Baking Championship on Food Network is my ‘must-see tv.’ I go to bed with visions of sugar plums…ok, you get the picture. As much as I like to bake, I understand that not everyone has the time or inclination to get their kitchen all messy and sugar-y this time of year.
If you are not into baking, but you are into the deliciousness that is holiday cookie season, you’re in luck! Iowa City and the surrounding area has more than a baker’s dozen of local businesses that can wrap up treats for giving or enjoying with your loved ones this year. From DIY gingerbread kits complete with frosting and sprinkles to festive tins filled with house-made treats, local businesses can help you fake out even the most discerning guests this holiday season!
812 Summit St. Iowa City | 319-338-5000
Self-described as ‘Your Holiday Butter Headquarters,’ Deluxe is the quintessential neighborhood bakery. Pick up delicate, buttery shortbread cut-outs in festive holiday shapes for $15/dozen or for a little more you can buy gingerbread men. You can special order if you have more than a few dozen to buy, but I’ve always had great luck with walk-in purchases too.
14 S. Clinton Iowa City | 319-333-1297
620 Pacha Pkwy Ste 4 North Liberty | 319-626-2026
If you love the idea of building a gingerbread house but not the thought of making all the parts, Molly’s has you covered! For $18 you can buy a Gingerbread kit with the house parts, frosting, candy canes and sprinkles. They even throw in a gingerbread boy! Call a day ahead to order.
401 E. Market St. Iowa City | 319-337-218
Everyone knows that John’s has Iowa City’s largest beer selection, but they also have a fantastic bakery and catering department. You can order decorated cookies for $18.99/dozen and a variety of 9″ pies for $9.99 (or crème pies for a few bucks more). Bonus tip: Order a half or full pan of their lasagna (including a vegetarian option!) for when you need to feed out of town guests (or your own kids) and still have time to relax.
201 S. Clinton St. Iowa City | 319-337-5594
You can’t talk about cookies in Iowa City and not include Old Capitol Mall’s classic storefront, Cookies and More. They have dozens of cookies for walk-in appetites (Pecan Chocolate Chip are my favorite!), and are a delicious and affordable option for large groups. Order five dozen 2″ sugar cookies–or any of their ten specialty doughs–for $24.95 and pick them up in a covered tray to take to your office holiday gathering or cookie swap (yes, it still counts in a cookie swap if you don’t make them yourself!)
708 5th St. Suite 7 Coralville | 319-359-1191
Craving a delicious specialty pie for Christmas dinner but can’t roll a flaky crust to save your life? Call Tip Top Cakes by tomorrow, December 15th to get a Pumpkin, Apple Crumble, Apple Cranberry, Apple Caramel, or Apple Blueberry (among other flavors) in time for Christmas dinner for $20 bucks. If you miss this deadline, no worries–just stop in and take your chances with their walk-in selections, including Ginger Lime cookies or personal 6″ pies. Show up to work with a 6-pack of their gooey cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting and you’ll be December Employee of the Month!
22 Van Buren St. Iowa City | 319-338-9441
1101 2nd St. Coralville | 319-358-5513
An Iowa City area favorite for years, New Pi has several house-made gift boxes for the holiday season. My favorite is the holiday cookie tin featuring local artwork. For $20, they make each tin fresh to-order and fill it with honey brittle, spiced almonds, fudge, and Mexican wedding cookies. Order 3 days in advance. I might just order one for my office party. No one needs to know that I work remotely in an office of one.
Michele from Vanilla Beans and Daydreams makes gifts that are technically too pretty to eat, but you’ll want to dig in anyway because they taste so good! Check out her facebook page for some great and really unique gift ideas, including build-a-snowman cookie sets and chocolate reindeer cake pops. I love her mini gingerbread mug toppers for a special thank you gift during the holidays. Check out her Facebook page and order soon while supplies last!
230 E. Benton St. Iowa City | 319-351-0052
Cottage Bakery is well-known for their catering and walk-in bakery selections. Close to downtown Iowa City, they are still taking orders for sugar cookies, including snowmen for $1.50/each. Allow 3 days for special orders.
225 S. Linn St. Iowa City | 319-354-4246
Go to the Bread Garden home page and you’ll see a feature that asks, “Need help with holiday cookies?” Yes, you do! You can order mini-sugar cookie cut-outs for $3.99 a dozen or full-size versions for $1.50 each. They also advertise gluten-free options. If you frequent the Bread Garden, you know that you can also walk in and pick up 6″ beautifully decorated cakes, pies, and mini-tarts for any holiday occasion.
Amber “The Cookie Mom” has a strong Facebook following and, just like our own moms, she will help you even if you wait until the last minute. I checked with The Cookie Mom and you can pick up orders as late as Christmas Eve! She bakes for all occasions, including holiday sugar cookies starting at $12/dozen. Splurge on some cute elf-shaped cookies for $24/dozen. Follow her on Facebook to see images of her amazing cookie art!
Where is your favorite local go-to for holiday treats? Share in the comments!