Admit it. There's nothing quite like those holiday baking commercials on TV. There's Mom, pretty in her clean apron with her makeup just right and her hair perfectly done; she's looking on as her sweet children joyfully help her bake platters of beautiful cookie after beautiful cookie. The kitchen looks warm and cozy, and honestly, can't you just smell those scrumptious treats coming out of the oven?
All right, let's face reality! Most of us can stay merry through the first few dozen cookies, but after that, mom is covered in flour, the kitchen should be declared a disaster area, and the "little helpers" have long since deserted the kitchen, taking lots of the goodies with them.
The holidays are a traditional time for baking and indulging in gingerbread, spritz, rosettes, and of course sugar cookies with sprinkles. We like having festive tins filled with treats for friends and unexpected guests that drop by. Yet with hectic schedules, it's not always easy to find the time and energy to bake as many cookies and as wide a variety of cookies as we'd like. That's when the cookie exchange becomes a really fun and useful event for moms – a time to socialize with friends and share the task of holiday baking.
- Coordinate your swap with friends, family, and coworkers. Each guest should bring a few dozen of her favorite holiday cookies; as hostess you may decide the amount and let your guests know how many they are expected to bring. If there are 10 of you, for example, and everyone brings five dozen cookies, all guests can leave with half a dozen of each type of cookie.
- Have the participants bring a few additional cookies to enjoy the day of the event. You may even want to turn the day into a potluck/cookie swap and have everyone bring a favorite dish to pass. Top if off with some tasty holiday beverages.
- Pick a date that will give each guest enough time to get a sitter and clear her holiday schedule. Hold your swap early in the season so people have a chance to use all their yummy cookies. Ask your participants to arrive at a specific time, and include an RSVP in your invitation so you can appropriately decide how many cookies will be divided.
- Include "cookie rules" in the invitation. All cookies should be homemade, easily transportable, and in the "holiday theme" – because after all, as much as we women love chocolate, those Toll House chocolate chip cookies just don't fit the "Christmas cookie" category.
- Keep a list of who is bringing what kind of cookie. It's no fun if three guests bring gingersnaps and will avoid embarrassment if one gingersnap cookie is noticeably superior to another.
- It's easy to get the cookies confused, so be sure to keep them separate. You might want to put a label with each person's name or a colored ribbon on the cookies to avoid a mix-up.
- Guests will need containers for their take-home cookies. They may want to bring their own large tins, Tupperware, or opt to use zippered plastic bags.
- Each guest should bring a copy of her cookie recipe for everyone in attendance. You may want to keep a few recipe/index cards and pens on hand in case you run short of copies.
When all is done, you'll be left with an assortment of delicious cookies and an enjoyable day to remember. Your cookie exchange may become a fun tradition – a great chance to break from the rush of the season and enjoy time with family and friends. Enjoy! Merry Christmas!