Baking for the holidays is a real joy for me, and so I go the home-made route all the way. I try to plan ahead...shop for the fruit and make the dough and fillings a day or two ahead. That way, I'm not in the kitchen til 2am the night before a drive, or clogging up someone else's oven to bake, the "day of." Best to stay out of the host's way...
"Yeah, could you move that turkey? I'm gonna need your only oven for an hour for this here pie!"
I'm making apple and pumpkin pies for T-Day, and will add cheesecake and a gluten free Buche de Noel for the round of stops at Christmastime. I usually ship cookies to more far flung friends.
The Joy of Cooking recipe for apple pie is tried and true, and I've never wavered. I make piecrust dough in the Cuisineart using the basic flaky pie crust recipe that came with the machine. Before baking, I brush the top crust with milk (don't say eeewww--if I didn't tell you, you'd never have known!) I plunk down some cookie cutter shapes pressed from rolled out scraps, then sprinkle all over with cinnamon sugar. Yum!