That homemade touch is what makes holiday meals special. But a frantic holiday schedule doesn't always allow time for it.
Thank heaven for local bakeries that do.
Libby Chatfield, owner of Charleston Bread, isn't usually open on Mondays. Christmas Eve, however, requires a change of plan.
"The baker is just now taking the last of the bread out of the oven," she said yesterday at about 10:30 a.m. "Our first baker arrived at 12:30 a.m."
The ovens have been busy at this Capital Street bakery to make sure customers have what they want for their holiday festivities. Some items were going out the door as quick as they hit the shelves.
Loaves of sourdough and olive bread were gone way before noon.
Chatfield and her army of workers also prepared fruited Christmas stollen, cinnamon roll wreaths, brioche and other pastries especially for the holiday in addition to the variety of yeast breads they typically bake.
"This time of year people have special dinners and a nice loaf of bread goes well," she said. "And cookies. Did I mention cookies? We have trays and trays of cookies."
The store planned a 3 p.m. closing, and anything unsold would be taken to local missions and churches that planned meals for Christmas.
Chatfield said she would again be open on New Year's Eve, also a Monday, with plenty of goodies.
In her own family, she gladly delegated much of the cooking to her husband and his mother. They were planning some traditional Italian favorites - fried bread, oyster stew, fried smelts, among other festive foods.
"And we'll have a stollen and baguettes from our bakery," she said.
At Sarah's Bakery on Bridge Road, baked goods also flew out the door Monday.
It's the first Christmas in retail baking for Sarah Plumley, who opened three months ago.
"I made several items for Christmas morning - sticky buns, éclairs, scones and some quiches," she said. "Mushroom parmesan, sausage cheddar, ham and brie with fresh chives from my own garden."
In addition, Plumley was selling plenty of pies, including bourbon pecan and cherry pie with snowflakes on top. Her own favorite is her apple cranberry crumb.