By: Jordyn Cooper
During the holidays, a great way to celebrate the season and bring family or friends together is a cookie exchange party. The purpose of this type of party is for all the guests attending to bring a dozen or more cookies, depending on how many people are attending. Everyone swaps their cookies at the party and leaves with their container full of cookies from each person, giving them an assortment of cookies for Christmas. The Squire recently did some research to show you how to organize the perfect cookie exchange party.
To find out more on how to plan this kind of party, The Squire, interviewed Mrs. Criswell, the Family and Consumer Science teacher here at Eisenhower. One of the most important parts of a cookie exchange party is the cookies themselves. Some of Mrs. Criswell’s favorites include peanut butter blossoms, sugar cookie cut-outs, spritz, and maraschino cherry cookies. She also shared, “These are my favorite cookies because they are tradition!” and that they are “More like tasty memories!”
Many holiday parties or cookie exchanges also include some sort of activity for after the swap, and Mrs. Criswell shared some great ideas. She mentioned that there would have to be a toasty drink such as hot cocoa or eggnog and holiday music to make the party feel festive. She also added, “I would have cut-out cookies that haven’t been iced yet, ready to go, along with a variety of colored icings and decorations. It is always more fun to frost and decorate with friends!” She also mentioned that if there was time, her and her friends would also play some board games. When asked how many cookies she thought would be reasonable for each person to bring, she suggested, “I would say four dozen cookies would be a reasonable amount because that is what a traditional cookie recipe would yield.” She also mentioned that one dozen per person would also work because it would give each person attending a dozen of each type to take home.
The Squire also asked how soon she would recommend baking the cookies before the party and she suggested, “The day of or the day before would be ideal. Cookies do not stay fresh for very long.” She also added that “once the cookies are baked, they can easily be frozen.” She often bakes her Christmas cookies around Thanksgiving, freezes them, and then pulls them out individually when she needs them. She added that this is a great way to keep the cookies fresh and keep them from getting stale. One of her tips for freezing baked cookies is that “each type of cookie gets its own container – don’t mix and match, freeze cookies in a single layer on cookie sheet for 1 hour and then they should be firm enough to stack in a container without becoming a giant blob in the freezer, and make sure your container is airtight, or cookies could end up smelling like freezer.”
The Squire also asked Mrs. Criswell for some tips that she would give to someone planning this kind of party. She recommended to keep it simple and that “the whole point of a cookie exchange is to make life easier for all those involved.” Her advice is to not stress over the party because that defeats the purpose of it.
The first step in planning your cookie exchange party is making your guest list and sending the invitations. The holidays are a busy time for most people, so it is important to send your invitations out as early as possible. Realsimple.com recommends sending them at least one month prior. The invitations can be sent in the mail, but the more popular choice now is e-vites. There are many websites that you can check out, like christmaspartyinvitations.org, for some free templates. Be sure to include the guidelines of your cookie swap on your invitation so your guests know how many cookies they need to bake. Don’t forget to ask your guests what type of cookies they plan on baking, so you don’t end up with duplicates.
An optional idea for your party is collecting the cookie recipes from your guests. This is a great way to find new recipes to try out for yourself. You can either print out the recipes to share or create a recipe book for your guests to take home. The first step in making the recipe books is the recipe cards. Pinterest.com has a variety of free printable cookie exchange cards on their website. You can either have your guests fill out the template or ask them to send them through email for you to copy and paste into the template. You will need to either order or pick up some loose-leaf binder rings for your booklets and can even make your booklets more durable by ordering or getting clear card sleeves from Walmart. Once you have printed out the recipe cards, you will need to hole-punch them and organize them in the order you want them in. The last step is putting the cards in their sleeves and using the binder rings to keep all of them together.
The next stage in your party planning is shopping for the party supplies. You will need to find things like tablecloths, plates, napkins, etc. If you are shopping online, some great places to find supplies are orientaltrading.com and amazon.com. Amazon also offers bundles of supplies and decorations. Another thing you may want to buy is extra tins or plastic wrap in case your guests don’t have enough room in their container for more cookies. Your party should also include snacks. It is a good idea to put out some appetizers or snacks, so your guests do not eat all of their cookies before they can take them home. Thepioneerwoman.com suggests putting out things like cheese and cracker plates and snacks like chips, nuts, or pretzels. Along with your snacks, you will also need drinks like soda and water. A creative thing to add to your party is a hot chocolate bar. You can buy several flavors of hot chocolate mix if you prefer a variety and you could also include toppings like whipped cream, sprinkles, candy canes, and syrups.
Cookie exchange parties can bring friends and family together for the holidays while also easing some of the holiday baking stress. They are also a new tradition that you can start with your friends. For more party ideas, you can check pinterest.com. Planning this party is a great way to get in the holiday spirit this season.