Seventeen women came together last night with roughly six dozen cookies each. We had appetizers, wine, and egg nog as friends mixed with old neighbors and new faces. After chatting a bit we gathered around the table, piled high with platters of delectable cookies, and filled our empty baskets, Tupperware bins, platters, and cardboard shirt boxes with a smattering of different cookies. Some were headed off directly to an office party and brought pretty platters to take straight away, piled high with dozens of different types of cookies. After making only one or two batches of your most fabulous giftable cookie, you leave with several different types of cookies. Saving hours of effort and cost. Want to have your own Cookie Exchange? Here are the basics:
- Expect half of those you invite to plan on coming and a few of those to have to cancel. Although this year almost everyone came and filled our home with cookies!
- Invite early! Give your guests a month's notice as this is a busy time of year. Then send a reminder the week before.
- Evite has well designed invitations and helps guests easily RSVP.
- Encourage baking cookies 3 days early. Cookies have a chance to "set-up" and there's no last minute crunch to get them done.
- Remind them to bring cookies on a platter, ready to be served and to bring an empty container to take their variety home in.
- I don't ask my guests to bring anything, but if someone genuinely offers to bring their favorite baked Brie or a bottle of wine- I take them up on it!
- Keep it simple and savory. The sweet smell of cookies will be too much with sweet snacks.
I held mine from 3pm-5 this year, making light snacks perfect with no need for a full meal.
- Coffee, wine, mulled cider, lemon & cucumber water, mulled wine, cocktails, egg nog...choose three for ease in keeping stocked as well as fresh/hot/cold.
- We each introduced ourselves, told the history of our cookie (my grandmothers, found it on the internet, have perfected it over the years, etc), and shared a tid-bit about ourselves. Easy peasy.
- I encourage the exchange of business cards at all of my parties!
- You may choose to incorporate a gift exchange. A white elephant gift game is always fun!
- Or have guests bring canned food to donate.
- Next year I may invite guests to bring small gifts for a local senior center, if they choose.
- Have empty platters available for those who may forget.
- Holiday shirt boxes, pre lined with waxed paper, were handy for those without a take home container.
- Don't forget a parting gift: a mixed CD of Holiday favorites in a sleeve made of Holiday paper, an ornament displayed in a bowl with a "Thanks for coming!" gift tag, little bags of home-made mulling mix, have guests email their recipe ahead of time and print copies for each guest...
- Don't forget to take lot's of pictures!
Have a question? Suggestion? Email me missamyo at charter.net.
Favorite Big, Fat Rolled Sugar Cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes, 1 hour to overnight to chill, 8 min baking
Yield: 60 cookies
1 1/2c butter, softened
2tsp baking powder
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs & vanilla, combining well after each addition. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover and chill at least one hour or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out a managable piece of dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutter or floured drinking glass rim. Place 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet (use parchment paper if you have it).
3. Bake 6-8 minutes. Cool completely. Frost if you' d like.
This is icing dries very hard, perfect for shipping or carrying to a cookie exchange! Can also be used as the mortar on gingerbread houses.
Yield: icing for at least 60 cookies
4 egg whites
4c pre-sifted powdered sugar
1tsp lemon extract (or vanilla)
1. Beat egg whites until frothy in a large bowl on high speed. Gradually add sugar and extract until thickened. Seperate into glass bowls to mix in food coloring. I prefer gel food coloring that retain vivid colors and don't make your icing runny.
Tips: Let each color of icing sit at least an hour to prevent colors from mixing. Use your 40% off coupon at Michael's craft store to invest in a little set of gel food coloring- mix into your pizza dough, cookies, you name it. The kids love it!