I have to admit, I had an ulterior motive to hosting my first Cookie Exchange. I like baking cookies, but don’t have the patience to bake more than one or two varieties. Hosting a cookie exchange would guarantee me lots of different kinds of cookies, and enough to last through the holidays!
The idea is pretty simple. You invite friends and ask them to bring cookies. Lots of cookies. Enough cookies to give half a dozen or a dozen to everyone attending. As the hostess, you get to set the rules (number of guests, amount of cookies to bring, how to package them, etc.) and you should communicate this information in your Christmas party invitations.
There are different ways to do it, but I invited eight guests, and asked each guest to bring eight-dozen cookies, all the same kind. It sounds like a lot, but most of my guests agreed that it was a lot easier to double or triple a single recipe than to make dozens of different kinds. Adding to the fun, I also asked each guest to create a recipe card for the cookies they made, and to bring enough copies for each guest to take home.
My guests arrived with large boxes and trays of cookies, and we set them all around my table. I provided each guest with an empty holiday cookie tin and wax paper for layering. (Lined boxes or plastic containers would also work.) We shared wine, hors d’oeuvres, and funny cookie-baking stories, but the highlight of the evening was parading around the table, filling up our cookie tins.
I expected the Christmas spirit, but was surprised by the feeling of sisterhood that developed. It felt like an old-fashioned quilting bee, where the women of the village join forces to create something we could never have done on our own. Everyone went home happy, with eight different kinds of cookies, a tin to keep them fresh, and recipes to try next year—in short, a very successful, very satisfying party.
For the host, not hearing back from you can be a vexing problem, particularly if it’s a smaller gathering. If you’re not sure you can come, or will be late, most hostesses would prefer you tell them that rather than not responding at all.
If you’re planning a party and wondering whether or not to include an RSVP request on your invitation, it is completely optional. Certainly for a formal dinner you will want to know how many places to set. In contrast, an RSVP might not be necessary for an open house, since people will be coming and going throughout and food is usually more casual.
Seasoned hostesses are good at estimating quantities and are always prepared for surprises. As a general rule of thumb, however, it’s a good idea NOT to be the one to surprise her!
We had budget-friendly gatherings in mind when we developed our line of Christmas Party Invitation ideas. Cookie exchange parties, tree-trimming gatherings, gingerbread decorating parties and spill-the-wine parties don’t have to be expensive.
One of our customers hosts an annual snowball fight in her backyard. Treats include hot cocoa with marshmallows and cinnamon rolls. Formal attire is not required. Your presence is requested because you are loved (and because it will be a hoot and you won’t want to miss it). Sure, we love the formality of a sit-down multi-course dinner, complete with place cards, champagne and catered hors d’oeuvres. But sometimes the simple gatherings are the most memorable.
When we were discussing our 2009 collection of Christmas party invitations we all tried to think of parties we attend during the holidays or certain things that just ‘happen’ because it’s the holiday season. One of the events we talked about was Cookie Exchange ‘parties’. This year will be my second year attending such an event and I’m super excited. I’m unfortunately not hosting, otherwise I would of course send this adorable cookie exchange party invitation out to all of my girlfriends. But that’s beside the point, but it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention it, right? J
My sister-in-law is the one that started the fun last year and coordinated what type of cookie everyone would be making so there wouldn’t be any duplicates. A cookie exchange party idea was to have your dough ready or have some of the prep work completed prior to the party. Then the day of the exchange we baked. And baked. And baked. We then all were able to leave with 12 or so (however many people were there) different plates of cookies to take home. Love, love, love this. Because I don’t bake. And I learned many of my friends were AMAZING bakers which in turn made my plate of holiday cookies that I would bring to my other holiday parties look really, really good.
So, the date for this year’s exchange is set for a Friday night in December. However the rules have changed just a bit. We’re supposed to come with our cookies pre-baked, packaged (I’ll be adhering this adorable Christmas gift tag to my plates of cookies) and ready to go and prepared to spend the evening with some good wine and of course great company. I’m liking this year’s plan a lot.
I’d love to hear about your cookie exchange party plans and also which cookie you bring (and the recipe, but only if it’s easy!)
‘Tis the season to be GREEN! This holiday season keep your eco-friendly efforts going with these eco friendly tips to make it a very special season ‘green’tings for your friends and family!
- Shop Green. Keep down your costs and environmental impact by shopping online. You will save yourself a trip to the store and those long lines. Have the gifts sent directly to the receiver; this way it won’t be sent twice and you save a little extra money. If you have to go to the store, plan shopping trips in advance and carpool to save extra trips to the mall and the grocery store.
- Bring Your Own Bag. This year– BYOB to the stores with you. Not only will your shopping tote hold your holiday list, but you’ll also feel good knowing you save a few plastic bags in the process. If you have left over bags from shopping, use them for wrapping the gifts or as a trash can liner.
- Eco-Wrapping Solutions. Find alternatives to wrapping paper. Some of my favorites include:Using the newspaper comics section for a pop of color or brown grocery bags dressed up with ribbon. For a really trendy look, buy vintage tins at a thrift stores to wrap your presents. Use old holiday cards to create a unique gift tag to tie it all together. Remember, save the bows and ribbons you receive from others for next year.
- The Gift That Keeps On Giving: For those hard to buy for on your list this year, make a donation to their favorite charity, have a tree planted in their honor, or buy a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Find trendy gifts that are eco-friendly, fair trade, or made from recycled materials online. Offer your services such as babysitting, cooking, or helping someone move. All of these gifts will certainly not be forgotten and won’t end up in next year’s trash.
- Set a Green Table: Instead of disposable plates, cups, and napkins, opt for cloth napkins and re-usable dishes. Serving dishes can be rented or purchased from restaurant supply stores, or IKEA. After the event, un-needed pieces can be resold on e-bay. If your event calls for disposable pieces, opt for those made from corn or potatoes, these are easily biodegradable compared to Styrofoam or plastic.
- Waste Not. Buy locally grown organic food to feed your friends and family this year. To reduce waste, buy in large quantities; one large bottle is better than five small ones. Send leftovers home with guests, or donate them to local food kitchens and remember to compost your scraps.
- Green Christmas Tree. Opt for a real tree, grown from a local tree farm instead of the plastic versions in the stores. One acre of a tree farm creates oxygen to support 18 people and remove 13 tons of airborne pollutants per year. When the holidays are over, contact your city officials to find out where you can take it in for recycling. Recycled trees are used for mulch, and other landscaping uses.
- Add a Twinkle To Your Holiday. Recycle those old, worn-out, broken and outdated strings of twinkle lights and replace them with LED lights. LED lights use only 1/50th the energy of regular holiday lights and don’t create a fire hazard! Turn off your lights at night to save even more energy. Go to HolidayLEDs.com for more information on recycling your old lights.
- Festive Décor. Be creative this year using what you find in your own backyard. Make edible decorations such as popcorn strings and cranberry wreaths. Cut down a few bows for décor around the house or collect pinecones for a great centerpiece. The smell of nature is sure to bring out your holiday spirit.
- Recycled ‘Green’tings Card. Send out holiday greetings made from recycled papers. There are plenty of cool and trendy options here on Pear Tree Greetings to make everyone’s holiday a little more green.