Thursday, December 3, 2009

Your Parties: Christmas Cookie Exchange- Girls Night, Ms. Johnson

Each year I host a cookie exchange party. This year will be my 7th year! I must admit there is a bit of selfishness behind the idea....get 10 dozen assorted cookies. It would take me days to accomplish that much variety on my own!

Over the years, my party has become a bit more elaborate then the first year. I have added things like a little party favor and a couple of prizes. I have also refined the "rules of the exchange". But rather than give you information overload, I am going to divide it up into a couple of different posts.

Today, I set the date. (I will actually be hosting two this year. One for the craft group and one for my neighborhood friends.) So to save myself from having to clean my house twice, I am going to do them back to back. I selected December 19th. I selected this date for a reason. This is the last Saturday before Christmas. There for most people will be having get together and parties through the rest of the week and can serve the cookies at these functions or they can save them for Christmas and they will still be fairly fresh.
I know this is a busy day, but the party only usually lasts an hour, at the most. I host it early in the day so as not to conflict with any other evening parties and last minute shopping.

Once I set the date I sent an email to the ladies I plan to invite.


I would like to have a Cookie Exchange party on Dec 19th that is a Saturday @ 1 (please be on time!) I know this is a busy day for most, but the cookie exchange usually goes really quick. If this does not work for the majority of the group I will rethink it.

Here is how it works. In addition to the craft group I am inviting my BFF and my moms BFF. That is 10 cookie makers.


Each person makes 10 dozen Christmas cookie/candy/treat (I will define this in a moment) and brings them with them to my house. If you can’t make it that day but still want to participate, drop your cookies early and I will exchange them for you. But please let me know if this is what you will be doing. In addition you will need to bring a large tray, box, tin to place your cookies in as we exchange them. Planning on using the tray you bring the goodies on does not work as that one is full of cookies. (You will be getting back one dozen of your own.)

Cookies: All cookies/candy/treat MUST be homemade, no store bought allowed. Doctoring up a store bought item (IE: dipping pretzels/candy canes in chocolate) does not count. (Do not confuse this with Kiss cookies, M&M cookies and those awesome Reese Peanut cup cookie tart things) All cookies should be completely cooled before they come to the party.

Serving size: Take in to consideration a serving size. When you make that treat how many do you eat in one serving? A large cello bag full of white chocolate popcorn or muddy buddies does not equal one dozen. If you plan on doing an item like white chocolate popcorn or muddy buddies, then a small cello bag would be considered one item (so you would need 9 dozen small cell bags to equal nine dozen cookies) Also consider the size when cutting items into pieces (IE: Brownies, fudge, etc) If you have questions about what a serving size, please ask in advance. Making a dozen sugar cookies is a lot of work and then being handed 12 small chocolate turtles in exchange is very disappointing.

Quantity: I know that 10 dozen may seem like a lot. Please don’t let this be intimidating. It really is not that bad once you start working on it! And the reward is well worth it! In the past we have done 5 dozen and every one got a half dozen of each, but it you think about it that is only 6 cookies, which is only one per each person in most of our families.

Presentation: Arrange your goodie in a cute, unique and/or fun manner. A prize will be awarded for the best!
* No duplicates are allowed. So let me know early what you want to make.
* Please email me a copy of the recipe that you will be making by Dec 14th.

* Wear your Christmas attire, a prize will be awarded!
I know there is a lot to this, but This will be 7th year hosting a cookie exchange and I have learned as I have gone! Please email me your address so that I can get an invitation out to you.
Thanks! Shilo

I know it is alot of words to process, but the more clear and up front on the "rules" I am the better the swap goes.

So on the To Do list today:
* Set a date and Time
* Send an email or a quick phone call to give each potential attendee a heads up.

The one consistent thing through each year is my theme, Gingerbread Men. I love the little guys! My kitchen is all deced out in Gingerbread Men any ways so the theme seemed to fit perfectly. I start introducing the theme in the invites. I wish I had saved one from each year, but I only have the past two years. Here is the one from 2007.


An e-invite would be cute to do, but I like to have a paper copy too. Every invite I send, birthday party, BBQ, etc. I put a magnet on the back so it can go directly on the fridge of the invitee.

Like I said before, the "rules" have evolved a bit.
But basically they include:
* All cookies must be homemade.
* All cookies need to be completely cooled before the party.
* No husbands/kids
* No duplicates (Who wants to go home with 5 dozen pieces of fudge)
I am a big stickler on the RSVP. The earlier I know the sooner I can start looking for a substitute if necessary.

I will never forget the year that one lady made 10 dozen beautiful divinity. They were beautiful and tasted heavenly! And knowing how difficult and fussy divinity is, I can only imagine her thoughts when seeing that one of the other swappers had brought a small stick pretzel, not a large rod, dipped in chocolate. Hence the reason I am a bit picky about what a goodie is.
A great sight for other ideas and "rule" suggestions is at 
There are lots of variations out there, so look around and decide what works best for you and your friends. But most important have fun, that is what the holidays are all about!

I unusually keep the menu to savory appetizers. I figure everyone just spent a lot of time making 10 dozen Sweet's I am sure the sampled them and are probably sick of sweet stuff.

This years menu will more than likely consist of Bacon Wrap Chestnuts, (A yummy recipe that is a tradition in my family)Stuffed mushrooms and probably a fruit dip. I know that leans to the sweet side but at least it is healthy.

I have seen other hostesses who have everyone bring an extra dozen of the goodies so that everyone can sample them at the party. Others have a contest for the best tasting so after everyone samples each goodie they vote secret ballot style.
I always ponder too long on the drinks. I know I don't serve anything sweet, but we all do nibble on some of the goodies. So I need milk, no cookie is complete without milk! For religious reasons, I don't serve alcohol or coffee, but have seen these suggested on other sites. I usually opt for hot chocolate, egg nog and Pepsi. The last one is for my mo, Rosy Cheeks cause if she does not have her Pepsi, watch out! (Love you, mom!)

So I have also been pondering the party favors. This is something I added just a few years ago. Last year I had cute red serving spoons and tongs tied up with a cute ribbon. This year, I am leaning towards Scrabble tile pendants with a cute ginger bread man (cause of the whole theme) on them. I was also thinking about homemade bath fizzies in a cute paper crafted box. The third possibility is a tea towel apron. Not sure which one yet. I think I may try a sample of each one over the weekend to get an idea of which I like best.
The other thing on the To Do list this weekend is finish up the invites and get them mailed out.


Rebecca said...

I found your blog over at Love, Actually and am LOVING it! said...

These are great tips, thanks so much to both of you! I'll be linking to this.

Anonymous said...

Drink idea, Holiday "champagne" using white grape juice, club soda and ginger ale. Serve it with a big ice ring. It's more refreshing than sweet.

Can I come? I'll bake my signature candied ginger shortbreads...I'll even make 2 cookies equal a serving...LOL!


amylee13 said...

I am on my 4th annual cookie exchange so it was great to get some new ideas. I always do "dirty bingo" with small christmas prizes (things I generally pick up the year prior on clearance after christmas!) I will definitely be implementingn some of your suggestions!

Renanda said...

I held my second cookie exchange last weekend. It went much smoother than the first one. I do a raffle drawing (1 ticket for being on time, 1 for wearing christmas attire, 1 for having cookied on a holiday platter) and I do 3 prizes - Best decorated, Best Displayed, Craziest Holiday Sweater. For food I did deli sprials, veggies, chex mix, and mini chocolate eclairs. Every food item was pre-made from the store so I didn't have to stress over it. I asked everyone to bring their recipe (included the recipe card with the invite) and I am now working on a cookbook to send out to the gals. Have fun at your party!