Cookie Exchanges: Tips and Tricks for Success.
Cookie–exchange parties are the perfect way to provide Mom’s homemade variety, save yourself time in the kitchen, enjoy different types of cookies and kick off the holiday festivities. I host a “girls only” party. We don’t eat the cookies, we exchange them, eat appetizers, drink adult beverages and socialize. It’s a nice break from the stressful Christmas season. I hold this party for myself as much as for everyone else, it really gets me in the holiday spirit — and away from the malls and the hustle bustle. We have a great time. So, if you don’t already attend one or host one, I encourage you to try it! Let me know if you decide to host your own exchange.
Important Planning Tips!
1) Send the invitations out a month before the party. Everyone’s calendar fills up fast in December! I hold mine in the second weekend in December so that I have plenty of cookies for all my holiday festivities.
2) Ask guests to R.S.V.P. in advance to let you know what kind of cookie they’ll be bringing. Try to make sure there are no duplicates.
3) Tell everyone to bake their cookies at least three days in advance. The biggest reason for no-shows is that they didn’t have time to bake their cookies.
4) Invite more people than you think will come. Think outside the box. Don’t discount all the high powered business women that think you don’t have time for such domestics. It can be a great networking party and they will meet new people. Encourage people that say “I don’t bake” to attend. They’re the ones that seem to enjoy it the most!
INVITATION AND THE RULES OF THE COOKIE EXCHANGE
CREATE AN INVITATION:
You can use your home computer and print on holiday paper. Be sure to ask your guests to RSVP and include your rules of cookie exchange with your invitation.
RULES OF THE COOKIE EXCHANGE
(Everyone is entitled to make up their own rules, so here are mine: Pick some of these or make up your own.)
- All cookies must be homemade & baked.
- Please bring 6 dozen total. Or you can ask your guests to bring as many dozen as they would like to leave with. This works out, trust me. I have friends that bring twelve dozen and they leave with twelve dozen every year. I ask that separate dozens are pre-wrapped for easy-loading into shopping bags.
- The theme is “Christmas Cookies” – no chocolate chip cookies allowed – unless they are really different! No “no-bake” cookies.
- Arrange each dozen of cookies on a paper plate, in a glove box , in a basket or platter (be creative!)
- Bring a large container (i.e., Tupperware) to carry away cookies
- Bring copies of your recipe.
- Have guests RSVP as soon as you can.
- If someone cannot attend but would like to exchange cookies, ask them to deliver their cookies the day before the party and the hostess can exchange them for her.
THE COOKIE SWAP
After everyone has eaten and socialized a bit, We start the swap and we go into the dining room where the cookies have been laid out as people arrived. We take turns and everyone introduces themselves and their cookies and each guest shares a story or memory associated with the cookies she baked. This part is fun, because there is always a story….and there’s usually a lot of laughs.
When the actual cookie swap happens, we gather around with our empty container that we remembered to bring, and we slowly go around the table
I have people pick a number and for the first round #1 picks first. In round 2, #2 picks first and so on until all the plates of cookies have been distirbuted.
Everyone goes home with approximately the same amount. I have never ever heard a complaint from anyone about how we do this.
(You can incorporate party games into your cookie exchange, here are two of my favourites.)
“Who Are You?”
Fill a basket with names of famous people or chirstmas characters. You can create the names or you can have everyone submit an entry. Fold the paper and place in basket. Hostess starts taping a piece of paper with a famous name to a persons back. Everyone walks around and asks people questions to figure out “who they are”. You are allowed to ask one person, one question as to “who you are”. Am I male or female? Politics or entertainment? Famous or infamous?
The intent is to get people to circulate, make new acquaintances and break the ice!
“The Ever Changing Gift Exchange”
Tell each person who wants to participate to bring a $5 -10 gift. You set the amount and you can also choose a theme if you like; ornaments, spa, kitchen etc. All gifts are placed under the tree and the hostess counts the number of participants, making strips of paper for the total count. Each person selects a paper with a number and the gifts are selected in turn. Each person opens and shows their gift. The next person has a choice of opening a new gift or selecting a gift from another person. If they take another persons gift, that person can select a new gift or take someone else’s gift (but not the one they had taken). If a person obtains the same gift three times, they get to keep it. This is great fun.
I have a friend who hosts a cookie party each year, but instead of bringing cookies, everyone brings a recipe and she provides the ingredients — sugar, brown sugar, flour, eggs, pecans, etc. Anything really special or beyond baking basics (like mint chocolate to melt) the guest brings. We have a wonderful time taking turns at the stove, oven, fridge (no-bake cookies work well here if you don’t have all day, though her party does last almost all day, with a cookie contest at the close!) Everyone takes turn washing dishes, and we all drink bellinis or mimosas while noshing on hors d’oeuvres. It’s a great way to gather, network, and go home with tins full of tasty, freshly made cookies!