One of my favorite moments during the holiday season is serving baked homemade cookies for friends and family on Christmas morning. It’s become a tradition at my house; however I don’t bake a variety of cookies because I just don’t have the time for it. So to remedy this, I would attend a Cookie Exchange party or better yet, host one with a few of my friends and neighbors.
A Christmas cookie exchange party is an excellent way of celebrating the festive season with a bunch of friends. You bake one type of cookie, and wind up with an assorted variety to see you through to the new year. These events are more discreet than other conventional Christmas parties, and you don’t need to fret about choosing the right presents for your loved ones. Also, hosting a party like this gives you a good reason to start cooking and enjoy some festive treats. In many respects, these parties have all the usual benefits of a good Christmas bash, with few drawbacks. There’s more to doing this than first meets the eye though, so the following tips will help you to throw a cookie exchange party to remember.
1. Choose a Suitable Date
It goes without saying that the Christmas holidays are a busy time, so it can be hard to schedule a date that works for everyone. Ideally, you should host your party near enough to December 25, so that the cookies remain fresh for your family to enjoy over the holiday. However, you need to allow sufficient time for everyone to make arrangements to attend, during what is a hectic period for all concerned. Begin planning your date as soon as possible, and send your invitations out well ahead of time.
2. Compile Your List of Guests
Decide how many people you wish to invite. Don’t forget, you will be producing cookies for all guests to take away with them, so refrain from inviting the whole neighborhood. Notwithstanding, although you have to bake more cookies with a bigger guest list, this does mean that you will receive more cookies that you can enjoy yourself. Be sure to emphasize to people that you need a response to your invite. Of course, last minute problems can always occur, however – because this event essentially revolves around the number of people in attendance – you should try to get as accurate an idea of your guest numbers as possible.
3. Decide on Your Parameters
Parties should be fun and lighthearted occasions. Nonetheless, if you spend ages producing fancy homemade cookies, you might be annoyed if a guest turns up with a shop bought imitation. Inform guests about the party rules. Decide whether to ask people to bake something themselves, rather than using a ready mix or visiting their local bakers. Also, it is best to stipulate a dress code for your event. Dressing up in festive attire can help to create a nice ambiance. Be clear about these things to avoid any confusion and misunderstanding. As a general rule, it is better to insist that guests bring homemade cookies to your cookie exchange party. While you can get some delicious cookies from shops, your party should be centered on sampling new things, so originality is paramount.
Choose what type of cookies you will bake and buy the relevant ingredients. Because you are baking a significant number of cookies, you might be able to negotiate a bulk purchase from a shop at a discount. If you can bake the cookies several days before your event, put them in the freezer. Certain recipes allow you to get the dough ready well ahead of time — and this can be stored in the freezer for a few months if necessary. If you opt for this route, remember to defrost them overnight so they’re at room temperature for the party. Make sure you avoid these 7 mistakes when freezing cookies. If you wish, you could really get into the Christmas spirit and request that guests provide non perishable foods, or slightly used winter clothes, to give to a food bank or homeless shelter.
4. Specify the Number of Cookies per Dozen That Guests Have to Bring
Bear in mind that your event is about guests taking home some cookies to enjoy with their families later, and not just about sampling and tasting the cookies on the day. If you are expecting eight guests, it is probably best to ask them to bring nine or ten dozen of one type of cookie. This way, every guest can exchange twelve of their cookies with someone else. Also, there will be at least a dozen remaining for tasting at the event. This simplifies things for you, when you come to serve the party food. If each guest brings at least two dozen cookies, everyone will have some to take home with them. This would be suitable if you want to sample some treats, rather than feed lots of people over Christmas.
5. Ask all Attendees for a Copy of the Cookie Recipe They are Using
By doing this, you will ensure that people can quickly track down who did what, if someone discovers a gorgeous recipe they want to try themselves. If any guests provide identical recipes, politely ask one of them to change to avoid any duplication. It is best to ask the most accomplished baker, who will not be phased by such a request. Encourage guests to send you their recipes by email. Then, after you have received them all, you can send out a mass email to all attendees in one go – with every recipe attached. This way, people can quickly access them at a time of their choosing.
Here a few Christmas cookie recipe ideas:
6. Ask Your Guests to Refrain From Using Nuts in Their Recipes
This is particularly important, if some guests will be taking cookies back to a house with children, who might have nut allergies. It is far better to err on the side of caution with this. Find out whether your guests have allergies beforehand, so you can take appropriate action. You could ask guests to provide take away containers for the cookies themselves, however you should have some in reserve just in case they don’t remember. You can even create DIY Christmas Cookie Exchange Take Home Boxes like this one from Flour on My Face to have ready for guests. Allocate an area for packing, so that guests can get their preferred cookies ready to take home. For an added touch, you could offer them a festive spatula and cookie cutter with a nice note. These can be purchased inexpensively at stores like Hobby Lobby, Target, Home Goods and Michael’s.
7. Prepare for Your Special Event
Ensure that you have plenty of horizontal surfaces available, to display all the fantastic recipes your friends have spent hours creating. If necessary, clear the table in the dining room, or put several folding tables together, to produce a buffet area that guests can put their treats on. Adorn the buffet table with a cheerful tablecloth, or festive centerpiece. Provide plates for displaying the cookies, or ask guests to provide their own. Plan the best way for everyone to move around the room. Move other furniture to one side, so that guests can quickly access the cookie buffet. Include some nice Christmas decorations to liven up the display table. Figurines, garlands and lights always work really well.
8. Be Competitive
You might want to provide some labels or tent cards, which guests can use to write their recipe names down (next to their names) for display with their cookies. Naturally, you should give everyone credit for the work they have put in. This is especially important, if your party has a competitive element incorporated into it. Lots of cookie exchange parties include taste test competitions. Give voting ballots to your guests, so they can choose their favorite recipes, based on different judging criteria. Even if you don’t have a competition, be sure to encourage guests to talk about their creations.
Looking for some great voting ballot ideas for your Cookie Exchange? Check out these FREE Printable Voting Ballots from Amanda’s Parties to Go, along with even more great FREE Printables for your Cookie Exchange HERE, courtesy of How To Nest For Less!
9. Remember to Serve Some Drinks
Eggnog, cold milk, coffee, tea and hot cocoa all fit the bill. For the right crowd, spiked hot chocolate or rose wine can go down a treat as well. Have coffee or cocktails ready for guests when they arrive. You could offer some savory snacks, such as finger sandwiches or vegetable dips, to maintain some balance – given that you will be eating cookies most of the time. Keep the atmosphere at your party jovial, by making a fun and festive iTunes or Spotify playlist.
10. Give out the Prizes
Based on the quantity of prizes you intend to award, you could create some excellent DIY presents to give to several winners. Alternatively, you could give them some baking tools, a good biscuit cookbook, an apron, some oven mitts or a jar for cookies. Let your creative juices flow here to make your event memorable. Everyone will be taking home lots of free cookies anyway, so they will be happy whatever you do.
11. Decide What you Will do With Your Tasty new Cookies
To begin with, if you have any spare time prior to the main Christmas period, you should freeze your cookies as soon as possible. This will ensure that they are nice and fresh in time for the festivities. Based on when you hold your event, you could ask guests to bake cookies that will keep well and put them in freezer storage bags. Then, all you will need to do is freeze them promptly, and take them out to defrost 24 hours before your main Christmas party.
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- KitchenAid Professional 6-Quart Mixer (various colors)
- Wilton 3-Tier Cooling Rack
- Wilton Cookie Press
- Wilton Holiday Sprinkles Assortment
- Christmas Cookie Cutters Set
- Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten The Season
- Artisan Silicone Baking Mat
- Rachel Ray 3-Piece Baking & Cookie Pan Set
- Cookies for Santa Plate
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