Wednesday, 25 November 2015

How to Host a Successful Christmas Cookie Exchange

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is coming up next week! This year will mark the 10th Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange that I will be hosting at my house! It’s a day for us ladies to get together over tea or wine and have appies and catch up, all while trading our new or favorite holiday cookie recipes!!

If you have never been a part of a Christmas Cookie Exchange, let me tell you how it works!! It’s surprisingly easy and a LOT of fun!! Basically, each person who attends the party brings six dozen of their favorite type of cookie, then we make the exchange and everyone brings six dozen different cookies home!!

Ten years ago when I hosted my first cookie exchange, I wasn’t really sure how it worked, so I googled, and found this page . This site gave me a very specific set of rules that, for the first couple of years I was very specific about following… and honestly some of the rules were a little too much for me, so I have relaxed them into the rules below and things have gone much more smoothly ever since!

Recipe for these beauties
Before the rules, a few tips to make your life easier as the hostess of the cookie party!! First of all, give LOTS of notice! I usually send out my invitations (usually as a facebook event) about a month or so before the party. People have very busy social calendars, and if they know about this event well enough ahead, they can also plan to make time for the baking part of the party!! Although some people get stressed about having to bake 6 dozen cookies, remember: that usually just means two batches of a single recipe, since most cookie recipes make 3 dozen cookies!!

Second: Don’t stress!! This is supposed to be a fun event!! I usually have my Christmas tree up mid-November, so my Christmas d├ęcor is the only decorating I do for the party, well aside from the beautiful cookies all my friends bring along!! I buy or make a few easy appetizers, open a few bottles of wine and make a pot of tea and we just sit and chat and catch up with each other!

If you have the time, ask your friends to provide you their recipes ahead of time and put together a Cookie Book. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s super easy and your friends will thank you! When I hosted my first cookie exchange, I asked people to bring copies of their recipes, so if someone LOVED a cookie, they’d be able to bake it! Inevitably, people would forget, so I try to collect everyone’s recipe the week before and print them all off into a little booklet for my guests to bring home! Voila, ten minutes of copying and pasting into a Word document and all of our new favorite recipes in one place to share!!

Finally, I know that people are busy, but busy people still want cookies!! I allow people to bake their cookies and drop them off to me before the party and I will do the exchanging part for them. Last year I had one participant in labour, and another working and one more that had a different party to attend… but they all wanted to bake and exchange cookies, so they brought them over before the party, prepackaged and ready to go and I exchanged their yummies for them! One last thing that may make your life as Cookie Party hostess a little better… and by no means is this necessary, it’s just my OCD coming out to play… if you have an odd number of participants, and you won’t be able to evenly divide cookies (for example 11 people x 6 dozen (72) cookies = 6.54 of each recipe per participant) whip up an extra batch of cookies.

See how amazing having twelve different types of cookies can be????
As the hostess, you are likely already a baker and have a ton of recipes in your arsenal. In addition to making it easier to divide and package cookies (especially when many of the guests pre-package their cookies), if you bring two entries to the party, you LEAVE with double the cookies!!

So, without further ado, and using guidance from Robin’s Rules to Hosting a Cookie Exchange, here are my…

1. All cookies should be homemade, baked and main ingredient must be a type of flour. This means your guests will bring COOKIES. Not Rice Krispie treats, not meringues, COOKIES. After all, this is a Cookie Exchange!!

2. No plain chocolate chip cookies, cookie mixes, no-bakes, meringues or bars. Anyone can open a package and add an egg, this party is for cookies made with love. We allowed bars one year, and they didn’t cut well, they weren’t evenly sized, and they didn’t package and stack like cookies.

3. Please bring 6 dozen total cookies… well maybe a couple extra to share… but really, six dozen cookies. One recipe baked twice, 72 cookies. It makes it easier for sorting and separating when the actual exchange part of the party, and means that no one is shorted cookies because someone only managed to bake 60 cookies.

4. Email a copy of your recipe before the party (or bring recipe to the party). In addition to putting together a Cookie Book like I do, having everyone provide their planned recipes in advance means that you won’t get duplicates. Not that having four kinds of shortbread is the worst problem to have, but variety is the spice of life!!

5. If you don't have time to bake, or have burnt your cookies, but still want to attend, you must go to a real bakery and buy 6 dozen yummy cookies. This one is pretty self-explanatory! In all of my years, it’s only happened on time that someone had to bring bakery cookies!!

I am so so so looking forward to this year’s festivities!! This year’s Cookie Book already has recipes for Oreo Peppermint Crunch Cookies and Salted Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodles. I. Can’t. Wait!!!!!! Thanks for stopping by today! I really appreciate it!!

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