White cupcakes with snowmen made of frosting on top with lights in background

What Holiday Treat Should You Stress-Bake and Eat?

The end of the year means college apps, finals, family, and stress! If you need a cookie break, here are some fun treats to make and enjoy!

It’s the most stre-e-essful time of the year!

Let’s face it: The Hallmark movies they’ve been showing since Halloween don’t depict the real end-of-the-year hustle no matter who you are, from a high school senior trying to finish their college applications before the deadline to a college student with finals beating down the door. Even if you have everything under control, there’s also the stress of traveling, family gatherings, shopping, decorating, entertaining, and all those holiday parties you have to attend! 

Luckily, December is prime treat season. Now’s the time to stress-eat—or even better, stress-bake. Stress-baking, especially to share with others, has actual psychological benefits associated with it, according to science. So take an application/study break, pull out the baking sheets and cookie cutters, and whip up one (or all) of these stress-beating sweets!

College application stress

If you’ve got your Common App filled out and all you need to do is finish those pesky supplemental essays, you’ve earned yourself a decent break—which means you have time to put into baking some delicious gingerbread cookies or sufganiyot. Depending on how well you’ve budgeted your time, you can donate more or less time to your cookie-making break. You can use store-bought dough that’s premixed or the kind you just need to add eggs and water to; you can make your own dough but limit your decorating to the bare minimum or not at all; or you can go all out and make the frosting and dough yourself then decorate each cookie with individual detail (if you really need to procrastinate take a break). What’s great about gingerbread is that you should let the dough rest for a little bit, and watching an oven is no fun, so you can work on your apps during those times. Just don’t forget to set a timer!

Sufganiyot are time-consuming but delicious jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah. What’s great is that there’s a long inactive period while making these because the dough has to rise. Set a timer for the recommended rising time (maybe add a five-minute buffer just to be sure) and work on your applications intermittently. You can be busy in the kitchen and keep busy at work too!

Related: 11 Steps to Finalizing and Submitting Your College Apps

Exam stress

With end-of-semester exams, you probably just want to step away from everything for a few days—or better yet, just not take them at all. While this seems like a great idea, it’s not really possible. You’re better off to take a short break to make a quick fudge or some candy! A lot of fudges are pretty easy to make and aren’t that time consuming. You have to give them time to cool before eating, but let that be your incentive to study hard or finish your essay in a timely fashion then reward yourself with decadent fudgy goodness. All you need for a lot of fudge is a microwave, a microwave-safe bowl, and a pan to put it in! You can find some simple recipes for three-minute fudge and easy chocolate toffee fudge online.

There are also a lot of candy options. Again, these tend to require setting or cooling times, but that allows you to schedule different breaks in your studying. From a holiday twist on classic muddy buddies to homemade gelt to microwave-made candy, there are plenty of easy candy recipes floating around on the web. If you’re super nice and your class is on the smaller side (not a 100-person lecture, of course!), you might consider bringing some to your final for your classmates—unless there’s none left.

General holiday stress

This is for the golden students who submitted their college applications early and are as cool as a cucumber about exams. This time of year can still be anxiety inducing with all the pressure surrounding the holidays, plus Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) setting in for some people. You might need a little pick-me-up, and making food can be great stress relief. (That’s why it’s called stress-baking!) Since you don’t have to worry about being crunched for time, bake something delicious that will force you to focus for a while. Try making pie or maybe some truffles!

When it comes to pie, prep time is long but the payoff is big. And there are so many different types of seasonal pies you can make, from an old-fashioned pecan pie or apple pie to something less traditional like eggnog pie or cookie pie (the literal best thing you’ll ever eat!). If you’re really bored (and creative), you can get fancy with the crusts too. Then there are truffles, which are delicious, addictive, and typically easy to make. However, they are a time commitment. They typically take at least an hour just to chocolate-coat them. But if you’ve ever had truffles, you know they’re worth it. Here are some fun recipes for crispy peanut butter toffee truffles and Oreo truffles.

Related: 13 Tips for Winter Break and Second Semester Success

Remember, if you don’t like baking, store bought works just fine. It's all about having fun and distracting yourself from stress for a while. No matter what you're facing as a student, you'll feel a lot better after taking a break and eating something delicious. Enjoy and happy holidays!

New to cooking? Find super-easy and quick recipes for your microwave on the CollegeXpress YouTube channel!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Kara E. Joyce

Kara E. Joyce is an editor and writer who frequently contributes to CollegeXpress. When she isn’t hunched over editing material, you can find her powerlifting in the gym, pirouetting in a dance studio, or planning her next adventure.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Wendy Thompson

Wendy Thompson

Owner, Westport Educational Consulting

I just discovered your site and LOVE it—fun, interesting, full of incredible information you can’t find anywhere else, and a godsend for those of us in the college counseling business. I am a fan!

Kelly Nogueiro

Kelly Nogueiro


For me, CollegeXpress has given me a valuable tool to use with my students to explore colleges easily beyond objective data. It helps me find colleges for students that fit their needs and wants that aren’t quite so black and white. It's a wealth of knowledge, and the Type-A side of me loves all the lists and the fact that I know they're coming from folks who know what they're talking about. I share it with colleagues and students alike, and it's always well received.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me organize the schools I wanted to choose from in one place, which I could then easily compare and find the school that was right for me!

Sierra Carranza

Sierra Carranza

High School Class of 2022

I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go to school; I was considering colleges in almost every state. CollegeXpress was an amazing resource and helped me compare all of my top schools. Without the help of CollegeXpress, I probably wouldn't have made such an informed and confident decision.

Brooke Maggio

Brooke Maggio

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously in my college search in narrowing down the schools I’m interested in. Using the college search tool, I was able to narrow down my choices to schools that matched what I was looking for. I also used CollegeXpress for their scholarship search, which helped me find scholarships that I meet the requirements of.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Marymount University

Arlington, VA

Reed College

Portland, OR

Eckerd College

St. Petersburg, FL

College of Saint Benedict

Collegeville, MN