I just enjoyed a relaxing cookie exchange with The Carafe Club. I did not host, which is just as well. I have in the past and it did not go well, but I’ll get to that.
For a few years running I trolled cookbooks and magazines looking for my next great cookie to exchange. Then one year my husband asked, why I was killing myself looking for a new recipe when my Ginger Snaps and Russian Tea Cakes taste so good.
I didn’t know what to say. If I’m honest with myself, I think I was looking for just that compliment. I was searching for a recipe that my family would ask for every year. Little did I know, I already had it.
At The Carafe Club’s Cookie Exchange the host told a similar story about her mother. People love tradition this time of year and the heart of tradition lies in the cookie.
Below is a round-up of the cookies The Carafe Club swapped. These old standbys are all family favorites, husband approved and easy to make in large batches. The combo makes them perfect for an exchange.
Oh, and incidentally, if a husband should happen to eat 2 dozen of your cookies ear-marked for the exchange, don’t panic. Stop by the bakery and pick up some Italian Lovelies. No one will mind. If they do, don’t invite them next year! (It speaks to character.)
With baked goods cooled and wrapped it’s time to party. Learn from my past mis-steps and enjoy a relaxing evening with friends.
1. Keep It Small. A large number of guests will overwhelm your bakers. It also leads to mass confusion. I attended a party once where we all had to bring 1/2 dozen cookies per participant plus another dozen to share with the party. It seemed straight forward, but people came with a variety of packages in an assortment of portions. Few were actually correct. Sadly, people were more focused on getting their goods rather than being charitable to the ones who mis-read the numbers or forgot to RSVP!
2. If you are hosting a cookie exchange, host a cookie exchange. I once tried to add an exchange as a side event to a family friendly Christmas Party. Disaster with a capital D. Kids were running everywhere. The exchange delayed meal time and children game time. It was a bummer.
3. Bags. Boxes. Baskets. You had to get your cookies to the party. You should have something to bring them home in, right? There is usually someone at the party with no idea how to get all their baked goods home. Here is an easy solution: Line up brown paper bags on your dining room table before guests arrive. One bag per guest, each labeled with the participants name. As they arrive ask your guests to walk around the table dropping in their pre-packaged cookies. No fuss, no muss.
4. Recipes. I am a nut for recipes but it is a difficult thing for people to hand write or even type out recipes for the crowd. If you insist on asking everyone to bring a recipe, ask your guests to email them to the group. Trust me it’s just easier.
5. Prizes. Some people love them. If you are one of them, get creative so the rest of the party will get on board too. Here are my favorites:
- The Golden Spatula Award: Top prize, buy gold paint and go to town on a dollar store spatula.
- The Most Ingredients Award: Award a nice or homemade bottle of vanilla extract.
- First Gone Award: This works best if you are also serving the cookies you are exchanging. Award a bottle of Mad House Wife.
What I have learned about Cookie Exchanges it that they are really an exchange of traditions. Keep the party simple and spend the evening chatting with guests and enjoying the tastes of the season. There is a enough stressors this time of year, cookies should not be one of them.