Hosting or attending a cookie exchange is always a fun activity to do for the holidays. I have attended my share of these events and found them to be a fun time full of laughter. They are a great way to collect delicious recipes, and best of all, eat COOKIES!
Being invited as a guest is the easy part; we make our cookies and we show up to the party-- but what if you are the hostess? How do you plan and organize a Cookie Exchange, Cookie and Treat Exchange, or a Christmas Goodie Exchange?
I have prepared 10 suggestions to help you prepare and plan your next goodie party. Of course, this list can be added to or you can simplify the process. I have attended some parties that feel as though the hostess spent all year planning the one event and other parties that were very laid back –both parties have their “season” depending on where you are in your life. That is the great thing about being the hostess. You get to set the tone, mood, theme, etc… for the party. You are the cookie boss!
Pick a date and a theme. Choosing a date early in the month of December is best or switch things up and host a Winter Cookie Exchange in January. A theme is not required but it does allow for your guest to have a direction when choosing their recipes or when buying products to wrap their goodies in.
Decide on a list of friends and send out invitations. How many friends you invite will determine how many cookies you have each guest bring. I would recommend 5-7 guests. They should each bring one dozen cookies for each guest in attendance (that is 6-8 dozen cookies). If your guest list is larger, 8-12 guests, then having each guest bring a half dozen is not so overwhelming. The extra dozen or half dozen is for trying and tasting at the party.
Ask each guest to RSVP by a certain date. This will allow you to inform all guests of exactly how many cookies to bake plus it allows the hostess to purchase the correct number of utensils, plates, napkins, drinks, etc…
Set the rules for the exchange. It is important that every guest understands exactly what is expected of him or her at the exchange. As an example, if you want only homemade cookies then this needs to be stated. Other examples may include a list of cookies not allowed or a list of treats that are okay to bring. Keep in mind that if an attendee spends three hours making her cookies she may be a little bit disappointed, if in return, she gets cookies that are store bought or no-bakes. Everyone should be on the same page in regards to what is being exchanged and expected.
Have tables available. The amount of table space that is needed will depend on several factors. Are you hosting a large group with lots of cookies to sample? Will you have a wrapping station so the guest can create there goodie trays in your home? Will you serve other food and have drinks available? Having answers to these questions will allow you to best situate tables and other surfaces needed for the party.
Party games. Some hostesses enjoy having games at the cookie exchange. Some suggestions would be an ugly sweater contest, the best holiday costume, favorite cookie, best decorations or an ornament exchange. This is definitely just an option and not required for a successful cookie/treat exchange.
How will you display the cookies? Each guest will bring the cookies for the exchange, and they will also bring one dozen cookies to share and test with the group. I have found that it’s easier and more appealing to have the cookies displayed on cookie trays or tiered dessert dishes. This allows for a beautiful table and the cookies are a bit easier to sample.
Printed recipes and ingredient lists. This can be handled in two different ways. The hostess may want everyone to email his or her recipe and print a copy for each guest. These recipes could also be printed into a cute booklet. The other option is to ask each guest to bring a copy of his or her recipe for each guest. The ingredient list is a good idea if you have invited guest with known food allergies to wheat, nuts, eggs, dairy, etc…
Wrapping Station. A wrapping station is an option. Some guest would like to come and exchange cookies only, while others would enjoy having the chance to exchange and prepare cookie trays for family and friends all in one night. A wrapping station could include: fancy paper plates, cellophane, plastic wrap, ribbons, tags, bows, dessert boxes or cute tins. If the hostess would like to share this responsibility, assignments could be made or a monetary contribution could be collected to purchase the products.
Have fun. The holidays are always a busy and hectic time in our busy lives. Know your limits, your budget and plan accordingly. This will insure that you have a great time and that your guest will too. A cookie exchange is a great tradition to start with family and friends and there will be enough time to have different types of cookie/treat parties in the future.
I hope these 10 suggestions for a successful cookie/treat exchange were helpful. I have included four homemade cookie recipes and one treat recipe; my neighbors and friends love all of these cookies.
My family would like to wish each of you a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends and, of course, cookies.
Here are some of our favorite cookies and treats for this time of year:
Written by Sherron Watson