One of my favorite things to do during December is to host a cookie exchange. I love to bake. I love to gather with women and just be a woman, not a wife, or a mom, just a woman for the evening.
Our family has always gotten together to bake cookies, but I always wanted to do a cookie exchange. This will be my third official exchange outside of just my family. When I started doing a cookie exchange, I searched for info on how to do it. I found Robin's exchange how to. This lady has been doing them since 1989. It is a great resource on games and invitations and rules for the exchange.
A cookie exchange takes a bit of prep work. I like to have my participants email me their recipes in advance so I make sure there are not 10 people bringing chocolate chip cookies. I usually stick to Robin’s rules. They are great for keeping a level playing field. But since most of the people that I have at my exchange don’t love baking as much as I do, I am easing up on the rules a little this year.
Another great reason to have the recipes emailed to you early is so that you can get a recipe book made up. I found these adorable recipe card digital files that I used in Photoshop to make recipe cards with. I ran up the street to Kinko’s and had the recipes printed. I have a comb binding machine that I throw together some little booklets with. The first year I had the recipes printed at Kinko’s and then I put the recipe cards into small photo albums.
Here is my recipe from last year:
The first year, we played some cheezy Christmas games. Everyone apparently isn’t a Christmas dork like me and my family. So the game was a little akward. Last year I made an apron and we played Left, Center, Right to win it. It was a lot of fun.
The winner of the exchange always gets a “Golden Spatula”. Last year, Erika had to run all over town finding a yellow spatula for my party (I love you, Erika!)
Once you have all your cookies together, you have to have some way for your participants to bring their cookies home in. The first year I purchased some cake boxes for each participant.
They were fine, but all the cookies didn’t fit in them and they were a little flimsy under the weight of all the cookies.
Last year I picked up some plastic bins from the clearance the year before.
These worked out so much better than the boxes did. I just wasn’t in love with the color choice. I didn’t find any at the end of last year’s Christmas clearance. So I’m still on the look out for something to carry the cookies home in.
Erika and I spent some time making up these *bells* to decorate the baskets. We also made them for our stockings for Christmas Eve. You take a circle of tulle. Fill some small plastic cups with nuts and some more with mints. Wrap the tulle around the cups and tie them off. They are supposed to look like bell ornaments. We have made these to tie onto our Christmas Eve stockings forever. Our Mom had them on her Christmas Eve stockings when she was a little girl so it has been a long time that our family has done them.
For an activity, I had all the supplies to make these paper globe ornaments. I had seen this paper craft everywhere it seemed. I had to make them. It was really fun to make them. I think everyone was quite proud of theirs when they were done.
We have a lot of fun at our cookie exchanges. I love to bake and it is a good excuse to get to bake. I love to make things with other girlfriends. And I enjoy being with just women every once in a while.
I have to share this recipe with you. It is totally delish and terribly bad for you I’m sure. I had to dig it up in a church recipe book. I just have to mention this. WRITE IN YOUR RECIPE BOOKS! I’m not kidding! When you cook or bake something, write how much you and your family liked it next to the title of the recipe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched for a recipe only to not be able to remember where it is. Another thing I do is make something only to remember after we have eaten it, that we don’t like it. A great way to tell your favorite recipes is by which pages have creases, smudges or splatters on them. But I can’t always read if that is a good thing or not. Now EVERY time I make a recipe out of a book, I ask my husband how many stars it gets on a 5 star rating. I write that at the top. I also write my impression of making it. “Time consuming but worth it” or something like that. I have two recipes that this could be. I didn’t write which one I loved, so I had to call my mom. (It is her ward/church cook book so she knows by whose recipe it is.)
3 eggs (beat on high 5 minutes)
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. pumpkin
3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Line cookie sheet with waxed paper and pour batter onto it. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Sprinkle powdered sugar (a lot) on a clean towel; flip cake upside down onto towel, remove pan and waxed paper. Roll cake up in the towel to cool (it also helps to give it the shape).
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c. margarine
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix until creamy. Unroll cake; spread filling, re-roll without towel, chill and serve.
If you do have a cookie exchange, take lots of pictures and share what works for you and what doesn’t. It is so much fun!