With the Christmas holidays coming up, many cooks will be looking at lots of baking for parties and get-togethers. Not to mention the big day itself. How can you reduce the stress and still put out a variety of tasty treats for family and friends? Try a cookie exchange.
The general idea of a cookie exchange is a group of friends each bakes a batch of cookies to be shared amongst the group. Each member concentrates on and only has to purchase ingredients for one recipe but still gets a variety of goodies to offer at their own home. You need ground rules and everyone has different ideas so it is a good idea to discuss the details in advance so everyone knows their role.
For some parties, there is a strict rule about the cookies being homemade. At others, the gathering is more important so if a member feels a time crunch at the last minute they can choose to buy something from the bakery. Store bought bagged cookies would still be taboo but “bakery, homemade-like” would be okay.
First, agree on a timeline. Make sure each member can make the commitment. Ask that they each set aside baking time at least a few days before the scheduled exchange (that way they have time to bake and time to fix it if something goes wrong). Another reason you might want to bake the cookies early is so they ‘cure’ a bit. Fresh cookies don’t really transport well and tend to crumble badly during the exchange.
Make A Memory
Ask the members to send the organizer their recipes. The organizer can make copies for the everyone and ensure that no two are making the same cookies (remember, variety!). They don’t all have to bake cookies either, bars and macaroons work really well too. It’s nice if they also include why they chose this recipe or any memories they have of making or eating these cookies. Sharing the details of how the recipe was once grandma’s or how you set fire to the kitchen one time while baking them is half the fun of the party! The exchange organizer can then create a booklet of the recipes and memories for each member to keep. You could even take pics of the cookies and the members to include in the booklets.
Members should bake one dozen cookies for each member (assuming you have a smallish group of fewer than 10 people. For larger groups, you might want to make 1/2 dozen per member. Package them separately so the exchange is easier to make. With the all of the disposable containers on the market, having separate packaging is easy. Even a simple paper plate (preferably with a Christmas design) would work.
The party itself works well with finger foods like veggies and dip and buffet style food. If it is an evening do, a wine and cheese spread would be fun too. Make sure everyone knows that this is for participants only, no spouses or kids at the party.
Looking for a good recipe to use for your cookie exchange? Try my fav: