This past Saturday I hosted and attended my first cookie exchange! It was a really fun afternoon of visiting with friends, and snacking on delicious cookies. I ended up with more than 4 dozen of eight different types of cookies, and I only had to make one kind. This is a pretty sweet deal. Get it? Sweet? Anyway…
I had a fun time decorating and getting everything ready for the party. I think I could be very happy as a party planner. Aside from the tiny breakdown I had on the living room floor when I had yet to take a shower, still had more things to prep and set up, and it was only an hour till the party started, I did an OK job! Well, if you want the real story, ask Ben. Or just let me know and I will fill you in on all the nitty gritty details that made my day so horrifically hilarious.
Along with the cookies, we had veggies and a creamy dill dip, crackers and cheese. To drink I made apple cider and got a Starbucks traveler coffee box, which I highly recommend when you have other things to do for a party, and making coffee isn’t something you want to spend time doing. Ben bought some very nice carafes to store the coffee, and I am so glad. I think they will come in handy in my future as a hostess.
I read quite a few online articles, and a few in magazines about hosting the “perfect” cookie exchange. I had no idea that there were so many ways to swap cookies! Here is what I did, and it seemed to work.
- Who? What? When? Decide who you want to invite and when to have your party. I invited 10 people and had the party on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
- Invites Order or make invitations. I got mine at tinyprints.com
- Give Guests the Details Include instructions for the exchange with the invitation. You have some options when it comes to how many cookies you will have guests make. Some exchanges have guests make a dozen cookies for each person and a dozen to share. This seemed a bit much to me, so I told everyone to make 4 dozen; 1 dozen to share and 3 dozen to exchange. This was a good amount for our group of 7. It really depends on how many people you invite, how many cookies you want people to go home with, and how much you want to bake. It’s up to you.
- RSVP Make sure to get an RSVP from your guests so you know how much food, packaging, etc. you will need. I asked people to tell me the kind of cookies they would be making so that we didn’t end up with any duplicates.
- Decorate I didn’t do much more than what I already had up for Christmas; our tree, my marshmallow wreath and my other blue and silver decorations. Again, it’s a personal preference, but make it at least a bit festive.
- Food and Drink A Christmas party calls for apple cider. I made mine in the crock pot, and it made my house smell wonderful. I also served coffee. Since it was a late afternoon party there was no need for tons of food, but it is good to have some salty to offset the sweet. The fresh veggies, dip, cheese and crackers were had were good choices for the party.
- Cookie Table Have enough trays and serving pieces for people to display their cookies. I also had people make labels for their cookies so we would know who brought what.
- Wrapping Table Have a place where people can put their exchange cookies. This is also where I had boxes, bags and parchment for people to package their cookies to bring home.
We had Tea Cakes, Candy Cane Cookies, Snickers Cookies, Peppernuts, Snicker-doodles, Gingersnaps, Gingerbread People, Coconut Crunch Bars and Buffalo Chip Cookies.
I made gingersnaps as my exchange cookie. This is a cookie I will always associate with Christmas and my mother. We had (and still have) these every year. Mine did not turn out quite like my mom’s, and they probably never will. These cookies are softer than some gingersnaps, have a great crunchy exterior and have great spice flavor. They also freeze really well. So you can make the full batch of 6 dozen, eat some now, freeze the rest and take them out as you need to over the holidays.
- 1 ½ c. shortening
- ½ c. light molasses
- 2 c. sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 c. flour
- 4 tsp. soda
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ginger
- Beat shortening, sugar and molasses until fluffy.
- Add in eggs, one at a time then add in vanilla.
- Stir in all dry ingredients.
- Roll dough into balls, roll in sugar, and place on baking sheet.
- Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.