Holiday baking is a great way to get in the spirit of the season, but baking lots of different kinds of cookies takes time that many people just don't have. A great way to get a variety of cookies without the hours and hours in the kitchen is to host a cookie exchange – a party where everyone brings one kind of cookie (a dozen for each person attending the party), and everyone goes home with a dozen of each kind of cookie. An exchange means much less work, a fun social gathering and lots of cookies for everyone. Who knows? You may even discover a new favorite. Here's how to organize your cookie swap:
Your guest list has to be set in stone for this one. Once you've picked out likely candidates, get in touch with them to see if they're free and interested. (Of course, it's a good idea to invite friends you know are great bakers, but you'd be surprised how many people have a great cookie recipe up their sleeves, even if they don't seem like the baking type.)
When you've got your guest list confirmed, let everyone know what they'll need to bring and how many people are coming. Each guest will need to bake a dozen of their selected cookie type for each guest, plus a dozen extra for sampling, as well as containers labeled with their name (we'd suggest Post-it® Extreme Notes for those labels) for the cookies they're taking home. Finally, ask each guest to bring one copy of the recipe for each of the other guests to take home.
Find out from each guest what type of cookie they're bringing. (This will help you get ready for the party, but it'll also help you make sure there aren't any duplicate cookies.) Before the party, set up a table with plates, platters or even sheet pans – one for each type of cookie. Label each plate with a Post-it® Extreme Notes on the table next to it that says which type of cookie belongs there.
You'll also want to provide drinks to go along with the cookies – hot chocolate, milk and cider are all great – and maybe some salty snacks to cut the sweetness. Finally, don't forget to bake your own contribution to the cookie exchange!
When guests arrive, have them lay out their cookies on the platters you've provided, then circulate and sample cookies. When the party's coming to a close, make sure everyone gets a dozen of each type of cookie packed into their labeled containers. Provide extra Post-it® Extreme Notes so that guests can label containers with the names of the cookies inside (or in case they forgot to label their own containers).
Now you should have enough cookies to last you through the whole holiday season – and maybe some extra to give as gifts. But in addition to all the cookies, of course, you'll also have a handful of new recipes, ideas and traditions to share with friends and family.