Monday, November 26, 2012
make yourself useful and...
host a cookie exchange.
it's not only useful, it's totally awesome. plus its an easy excuse for holiday mingling. all you need is a clean-ish house, some appetizers and maybe a few (possibly adult) beverages. it's like a cocktail party with a purpose. that purpose is making sure you have a ton of different kinds of cookies for platters that you can use at work parties, family get-togethers or as last-minute or hostess gifts. oh, and everyone loves cookies, especially homemade cookies. seriously. go ahead and try to prove me wrong.
i promise that this is one of the easiest holiday parties you'll ever give (the only hard part is making the cookies. but you can do that beforehand). here's how:
first, pick a few friends, family members, co-workers, or other people that you at least kind of like. every year, my mom and my sis and i get together with a the ladies of a family we've known forever. one is stenni's Godmother, her mom is my sister's Godmother, and her sister and daughter are also friends that we consider family but don't get to see nearly often enough. so it's us, the same core every year. 7 of us in total, so each of us makes 7 dozen cookies so that we can share a dozen of each kind and keep a dozen for ourselves.
then, invite them to your house at a time you know they're available. don't wait until Christmas eve, or a busy weekend evening. pick a "school night" so it's easier for everyone to schedule, and hold the party around 7, after dinner.
then pick a cookie recipe and cute packaging. i usually make a drop cookie or a spritz, something easy. i learned my lesson after i made 7 dozen cream-filled florentine lace cookies one year. while it might be a time to let your baking prowess shine, it's also time to be realistic. it's the holidays. everyone's busy. don't go the florentine lace route. there's nothing worse than getting frustrated, because then it becomes a chore instead of a joy. then bake the cookies and package them nicely, so that they can be given out as a gift.
lastly, put out the snacks and wait for everyone to come over. remember, this does not have to be formal, and in fact it's better if it's pretty casual. you don't even need any kind of activities (our group actually does Christmas trivia sometimes, but it's not competitive or anything, and if we're in the middle of something, we don't bother). the most important activity is distributing the delicious cookies! this time of year everyone's overdoing everything. you want yours to be the one get together that everyone enjoys because they don't feel rushed or pressured.
so that's it. remember, the party can be short, as in 2 hours or so. we're all tired this time of year. don't push anything. but maybe you'll want to linger with friends around a cup of coffee, and that's alright too. there are no hard and fast rules for hosting a cookie exchange, except that you have to exchange cookies. that's it. do what comes naturally.
looking into the future: my next cookie exchange will take place in the middle of December. I'm not actually hosting this year, so I can use a little more energy on baking! in the past i've done the aforementioned florentine lace cookies as well as some classic oatmeal raisins, snickerdoodles, and some miniature chocolate whoopie pies, among others. some of the other ladies have made pignioli cookies, mint chocolate chip cookies, macaroons, double chocolate cookies, and even oreos wrapped inside chocolate chip cookie dough! it's getting harder and harder to pick my cookie recipe every year, but i've narrowed it down to zimtsterne (German cinnamon stars), pfeffernusse (German spice cookies), or maybe even gingersnaps. what do you think? have you ever hosted or attended a cookie exchange?