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When it comes to sweet treats, I swear by cookies and holiday cookies that make my heart go pitter-patter. This holiday, to ensure my family and I have a festive cookie stash that — bonus! — we don’t have to make all by ourselves, we’re going to host a cookie exchange.
Ready to host your own, but not sure where to start? Here are 10 rules that will make your cookie exchange a sweet success.
1. Keep it small: Each guests will need to bake about a dozen cookies per attendee, so don’t go crazy with the guest list. Six to 10 people are a good start.
2. Do digital invites: The holidays are hectic for everyone. Send out invites three to four weeks in advance. The invitations don’t need to be fancy. Facebook, Evite, Paperless Post or even a simple email will do.
3. Pick a number: Decide how many cookies each guest will make. A dozen for every attendee is the norm, but if that seems too ambitious, come up with a more manageable number that allows each guest a decent sampling.
4. Give guests guidance: If you want only made-from-scratch sweets, let people know. Otherwise, some guests might go the slice-and-bake route. Also, it helps to find who is making what to avoid duplicates. Recommend cookies that will travel well and if any guests have severe nut allergies, consider making your cookie exchange nut-free.
5. Let the baking begin: Pick your own tried-and-true recipe and if you’re really a baking wiz, don’t be afraid to pull out all the stops — everyone will love the extra effort. Start a few days in advance so you’re not stressing out the day before the party and freeze cookies in an airtight container until you need them.
6. Set up a swap station: Make sure you have a large table to display all the cookies and buy place cards to label each batch. Or, consider making a cookie menu that lists all the types.
7. Wrap it up: Tell guests to bring their own tins or plastic containers, but to be safe, keep extra packaging on hand to help people out. If you want to make it a little extra festive, get Chinese take-out boxes and other holiday containers from the craft store.
8. Collect the recipes: To keep things easy, ask each guest to email you a copy of their cookie recipe. After the party, send a master list to everyone.
9. Break out the beverages: Cookie exchanges seem like the easiest kind of holiday party to plan since your guests do most of the work. Just be sure to serve a bunch of beverages that work well with sweets such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and mulled cider. A few savory snacks like pretzels, cheese or popcorn will also help balance out all that sugar!
10. Ready, set, swap: After guests have had a chance to mingle and sample some cookies, encourage them to start filling their tins. Start with everyone taking half a dozen or so and have them add more until all the holiday cookies are gone.
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