You may still be picking at what's left of the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie (unless your hubby already ate all of it), but let's face it, the holiday season marches on, meaning pie is out and cookies are in.
Right around the beginning of December, my grandmother would always stock her kitchen with all of the necessities for cookie-making: pounds of sugar and flour, chocolate chips, oatmeal, raisins, etc. For the next month, her kitchen would constantly smell of fresh baked cookies that she would then box up and gift to neighbors, teachers, church members, and everyone in between.
While I really love the idea of baking cookies for others, I'm just not that ambitious (sorry, Grandma). That's why I am a huge huge fan of the cookie swap.
Instead of making 12 different kinds of cookies, you only have to make several batches of one kind, and then invite guests to bring over batches of their favorite, you swap, and voila -- everyone leaves with several types of cookies. Now, come January, your cabinets won't be filled with tempting leftover chocolates that you didn't use in baking.
Step 1: I'm sure the moment you say "Cookie Swap!" you'll have verbal RSVPs, but we're adults now. Gotta make it formal (and I'm not talking about Facebook event invites). I love the idea of creating a homemade invitation on a recipe card to set the tone. In the invite, ask each guest to make a dozen cookies for each person in attendance, plus an extra dozen for sampling. This way, everyone will get to taste test and still have plenty to take home and share with others.
Step 2: Once all of the RSVPs have filtered in, plan ahead who is making what so that you don't end up with duplicates.
Step 3: On the day of the party, set out several platters and cake stands, each with proper labels of the cookie varieties, and have each guest put out their plates for tasting, with stacks of the recipes beside them. When it's time to trade, set out the remaining cookies and let each person walk around the table to pick up their share of each.
Step 4: Offer a packaging station filled with cookie boxes, parchment paper, saran wrap, scotch tape, and decorative ribbon so guests can pack their treats with flair. Or, if you've hoarded old-fashioned cookie tins over the years, now's the time to dish them out.
Step 5: For the menu, keep foods simple -- after all, we'll be busy stuffing ourselves with cookies. Cheese and fruit platters are a nice change of pace from the sweets. For drinks, you have to have milk, but you should also provide coffee, tea, or cider. If you're boozing, keep it sophisticated with Champagne cocktails.
Have you ever attended a cookie swap? What kind of cookie would you bring to one?
Image by Jeanne Sager