Plan a cookie-exchange party
DEAR SARA: I have been elected by my friends and neighbors to host a cookie-exchange party at Christmas. We were looking for something new and cheap to do this year. But I haven’t a clue on how to do this. How many cookies do you make? Do you have something playing in the background, such as a movie? What should I have ready for everyone to take their cookies with them? Any suggestions? — Daisy, South Dakota
DEAR DAISY: Cookie exchanges are great because each guest needs to buy ingredients for only a couple of cookie recipes, and they’ll gain a variety of cookies.
Here are a few tips.
AMOUNT OF COOKIES: Each person invited should make a few dozen cookies. Think about it. If each person made only one dozen, then you’re going through this party planning and everyone getting together for only a few cookies each. Your goal is to have each person leave with a nice variety of cookies to get them through the holidays (entertaining and gifts). For some people, that might be two dozen, and for others, it might be eight dozen. You need to know how many people are attending and how many cookies you would like each person to leave with. Two dozen is the minimum I would set. If there’s a small guest list, have each person bring two types of cookies and the recipes written out for the other guests. Approximately six to 12 cookies per person (again, depending on the amount of guests attending) can be contributed to the party food and enjoyed, and the other cookies can be exchanged. Any extra can be left with the host.
CONTAINERS TO CARRY THEM: Since each person brings his or her own cookies, guests have containers ready to bring back cookies they get in the exchange. If you want to be generous, you could give tins or cookie plates as a gift. At the very least, have some aluminum foil, wax paper, plastic wrap, storage baggies, napkins and paper plates handy.
WHAT TO SERVE: Serve coffee, tea, cocoa, eggnog, mulled cider, milk and soft drinks. Food is up to you. You can serve vegetable, cheese, crackers and fruit trays if you want.
PARTY FUN: You can include a white elephant/Yankee swap in your party, too. Play some holiday music and maybe a party game or two. You could have everyone wear a festive holiday sweater and have a best-sweater contest. Or vote on the best cookie. One fun game is based on a popular baby-shower game. Give each member a small bracelet made from a pipe cleaner with a jingle bell attached. Any time someone catches someone else saying the word “cookie” or “delicious” during the party, they can take their bracelet. The person with the most bracelets at the end of the night, wins a prize.
If you’ve hosted a cookie exchange, how did you plan and execute it?
DEAR SARA: I have a bag full of stale tortilla chips and don’t know how to use them. I thought about grinding them to make breadcrumbs, but I’m well stocked in that department. Do you have any other suggestions? I would really appreciate it. — Brittney, Kansas
DEAR BRITTNEY: You can microwave them briefly (30 seconds or so) to get them crisp again. Or put them on a baking sheet and place them in the oven or toaster oven at 350 F for a few minutes. Then eat them as you normally would.
photo by jagwired