The Holidays Are Oh-So Sweet!

Honestly, how many other holidays can you indulge in a plethora of delicious baked goods day after day? And on the top of my list this year – cookies! (Let’s be honest, cookies rank high on my agenda every year!)

Unfortunately, with the holiday hustle and bustle, I’m lucky to bake one batch of cookies, and usually, they are the break-apart brands in the refrigerated section of my local grocery store. And if my family is fortunate, I may even add some sprinkles! Don’t get me wrong, every one of those prepackaged treats is polished off, but we all crave the myriad cookie recipes you see while scrolling through Pinterest. Regrettably (sigh), I just don’t have the time.

Thankfully, Pinterest didn’t fail me, as I discovered the greatest way to taste all sorts of cookies without spending hours in the kitchen – The Great Cookie Exchange!

Get ready to host your own cookie swap this year, and savor the sweetness from an array of cookie recipes without the work of baking them all!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

The Holly Jolly Invites
We all know the winter holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, so it is important to send your invitations before everyone’s calendars get filled up. A good rule of thumb would be 3-4 weeks before the date of your party. Additionally, a reasonable size cookie swap party consists of around 8-12 people, preferably friends and family who like to bake. Be sure to include details on how the cookie exchange will work. Lovely paper invitations are always a hit, but evites will save you time and money, and are a great way to communicate with other guests.

The Grinch Guidelines
Who would have thought that you would need rules when it came to a cookie party? But let’s face it, without a few guidelines, you could be trading baked goods that derived from your local bakery. Tasty, yes…expressive, no! So onward with the rules for the party.

1. Cookies must be homemade. This means no mixes, Betty Crocker!
2. The cookies must be festive. As delicious as they are, NO chocolate chip cookies are allowed.
3. Bake and bring 2 dozen cookies from the same recipe…one for sampling and one to swap!
4. Arrange the cookies on a platter.
5. Inform the host of your chosen recipe at least one week prior to the party so there aren’t duplicates.
6 Bring several copies of your recipe on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper for each guest to take home.

The Dashing Display
Most likely your home will already be wonderfully decorated for the season! Phew, that’s a relief. For the party, though, adorn your table or kitchen island with a festive tablecloth or runner so your guests will have a place to put their plate of cookies as they arrive. A label containing the name of the cookie, as well as the baker (again…Betty Crocker is NOT invited to this party) should be displayed in front of each platter. Accent the table with a few decorations such as ornaments, miniature trees, or Poinsettias. And, of course, nothing says party like a bit of holiday music.

The Pretty Packaging
Many options exist for packaging the cookies that are exchanged. You can have guests bring a cookie tin, a tray, a plastic container, or even a shoebox. However, consider having a station where guests can use carry-out containers or bakery boxes to jazz up their package with tissue paper, stamps, baker’s twine, ribbons, and tags.

The Sweet Sugarplum Swap
Let the swapping commence! During this time, the host gathers everyone around the table of cookies with their take-home packages. Begin the exchange by having guests walk around the table, grabbing a few cookies from each platter. Continue circling the table, loading up on more, until only crumbs garnish the plates and platters.

The Ho! Ho! Host
Although there will be an abundance of cookies to devour at the party, sometimes you need a little salty with the sweet. Cheese and crackers, nuts, and veggies and dip are party favorites and will add balance to the menu. And let’s not forget you need something to drink to wash down all of that yumminess!

What goes better with cookies than a glass of ice cold milk? Mmm, mmm good! But just in case your guests don’t want to relish their inner child with cookies and milk, it may be a good idea to offer some other beverage. Wine, hot cocoa, eggnog, coffee, and water are always a hit.

Without a doubt, eating the mouthwatering treats will probably be completed within minutes, so have an activity or two lined up. While socializing and sampling sweets, have guests tell the story behind the cookies they brought. Is it a family tradition or a favorite recipe? Or maybe it was the first recipe they found on the internet after they burned their first batch! You may be surprised at some of the sentimental and hilarious stories that arrive from sharing. Many hosts also find it fun to have a cookie contest, in which your friends and family vote on cookies based on categories such as a favorite cookie, ultimate festive cookie, most unique cookie, etc.

And although your guests will be leaving with a package of distinguished treats, it may be charming to provide a parting favor. A few ideas that celebrate the season are cookie cutters, hot chocolate mix, and holiday-themed baking supplies such as hot pads and spatulas! Now, only one question remains…what do you do with all of those delectable cookies? Some embrace the reason for the season and give their package as a gift, while others divvy up the goodies between family and friends. As for me, I camp out in the closet and delight in them myself! The holidays never tasted oh-so-sweet!