One of the holiday traditions eagerly anticipated by many families is baking Christmas cookies. However, it's also one of the most time consuming traditions if you hope to bake enough variety to assemble attractive cookie trays for your holiday parties. With time in short supply for most families, this can turn a beloved tradition into a dreaded chore. Fortunately, there's a solution to this dilemma that will keep the fun in the baking, yet minimize the time pressure - hosting a Christmas cookie exchange party.
When hosting a cookie exchange party, you invite friends who also enjoy holiday baking to bring a large batch of one type of cookie to your home. You can certainly expand the definition of this party to include other treats such as home made candy, chocolate covered pretzels, or other festive sweets. During the party, everyone shares their treats. This gives each participant the desirable variety, and yet only requires baking one recipe. Let everyone bring a little extra for the party table, and the host has instant refreshments to serve to guests!
10 Easy Tips for a Great Cookie Exchange
- Ask each guest to bring either a dozen or half dozen cookies for each attendee, plus a dozen for the party.
- Supply plastic storage bags or paper plates and foil just in case guests forget to bring a container for transporting their cookies home. Remind guests to store each cookie variety in separate containers until serving. Mixed cookie varieties lose their flavor and texture.
- Request that participants bring copies of their recipe to share with others. That will avoid the necessity of mailing out copies at a later date after everyone inevitably requests them at the party!
- Prepare a large table for everyone to set out their cookies. Spread a festive cloth on the table. Place one large basket, tray or plate on the table for each guest to place their contributions.
- Place an extra platter on the table for the cookies that will be enjoyed during the party.
- Play Christmas music throughout the gathering.
- Even if you haven't finished your holiday decorating by the date of the party, be sure the party room has some festive decorations.
- A cookie exchange can be held any time of the day, but mornings are a great time during the holiday season. By hosting it in the morning, your guests will have the remainder of the day for other holiday activities such as shopping, wrapping, their own decorating, or other parties.
- Plan to serve refreshments that can be prepared in advance and merely reheated at the party. You shouldn't spend all of your time fussing in the kitchen during this party. It's more important to keep the cookie exchange flowing. For a morning party, overnight egg casseroles work very well. You might want to make an evening cookie exchange part of a festive, holiday cocktail party.
- Serve at least one holiday beverage such as egg nog or hot mulled cider along with coffee, tea, juices and, of course, milk!
Terrific Cookie Collections
It's always special when guests bring old family favorites to the exchange, but for participants that are new to the holiday baking tradition, the Cooking Guides on our Food Channel here at About.com have many cookie recipes that could keep you planning and dreaming for hours. Whether you'd like to bake a traditional cookie, or something that's more unusual, you'll find a recipe to suit your wishes.
Visit Cookies for Holiday Cookie Exchanges to find the perfect cookie to bake for this year's exchange.