I only have three recipes in my baking repertoire that are actually edible so a Christmas Cookie Exchange is perfect for the baking-challenged, like me.
Here's the need to know info about hosting a Cookie Exchange Party:
Why: Isn’t it just as easy to bake your own cookies to give as gifts and offer to guests during the holiday season? No. (See aforementioned lame baking skills.) Also who wants to make dozens of DIFFERENT kinds of cookies? Not this flour dusted lady. Invite guests to bring their most prized cookie offerings and you'll end up with dozens of unique and delicious cookies to share with family and friends. It makes the holidays easier to manage, plus it’s a great opportunity to hang with your girlfriends before the hectic holiday season takes off.
When: Send out invites well in advance. We mamas are busy and during the holidays! If possible, hold the party during the last weekend of November—most festive get-togethers haven’t yet begun, so YOUR party will kick off the season and allow friends to stock up on their cookie needs for the fa la la la la, la weeks to come.
Who: The guys can hold down the fort while the ladies get their cookie on. Besides, husbands and children in attendance would be disastrous! The cookie table would be under siege from the get-go and that would be “crumby” so leave the cookie monsters AT HOME.
How: There are a few must-dos to make this thing run smoothly. Once the details are taken care of, this party is a piece of cake, or whatever baked good analogy you’d like to insert here. I’d like to insert a piece of cake...in my mouth...right now. Writing about cookies is making me peckish.
1. Send out invites with essential details. Request an RSVP by a specific date. Also let people know that store bought cookies are acceptable and there is a strict NO MOCKING policy. We're busy. It's all good.
2. Guests should each bring six dozen cookies. The cookies should be good quality and should travel and freeze well. Guests should also bring a Tupperware container labelled with their name and large enough to hold the six dozen cookies they will be bringing home with them.
3. Cheesy Christmas sweaters, tinselly festive jewellery, glitter and anything that lights up is the dress code for the night. The tackier the better! Hand out a prize for the gaudiest getup.
4. As guests arrive, have them set their cookies on the dining room table. Offer them a festive cocktail or sparkling wine and let the mingling begin.
5. At a designated time, instruct guests to bring their containers to the dining room. Hold hands around the table and sway back and forth singing the Welcome Christmas song from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Ok, that's optional. Begin circulating around the table, collecting a few cookies from each plate. Continue around until all of the cookies are gone and nary a crumb remains. Some people enjoy introducing their cookie recipe. You can definitely add a brief Show and Tell before the collecting begins. Or, you can skip the formality and make it snappy so you can get back to the drinks and appies!
6. Leave your labelled container on the table, with your cookie platter and carry on with the party. Remind guests to bring both with them when they leave.
Other: You may choose to provide the appetizers and drinks. Personally, I'd ask guests to bring a small appetizer—a bag of chips, a dip, some cheese and crackers, whatever. You can offer a welcome drink, plus soft drinks. Advise guests what will be served so if they'd like to enjoy some additional festive cheer, they can bring a favourite wine or holiday drink.
Added Touch: Ask each person to email you their cookie recipe and take a photo of each person’s cookies before the collecting begins. Compile the recipes and photos and possibly some funny stories or anecdotes from the night and send to guests as a keepsake from your party.
Have fun and nom, nom, nom...