Christmas is my favorite time of year. I enjoy the lights, the festivities, the music, and most of all the food. I love holiday traditions and over the years not only do I continue some of my family’s traditions, but I have established a few of my own. One of favorite holiday events is my Christmas cookie exchange. I hosted my first party 23 years ago for a small group of 6 of my girlfriends. We were all mothers with young children, and this provided a great opportunity to get together for a couple of hours without our kids and enjoy some adult time.
The first party was simple. I served a warm mulled wine along with a few finger appetizers. Everyone brought a batch of cookies and we exchanged them leaving us with a nice assortment of Christmas cookies to take home.
The following year, I decided to have a brunch along with a cookie exchange. This is MY favorite part of the party. I love planning and preparing the brunch. Cooking is therapeutic for me and I am at my happiest in the kitchen. Over the years, the cookie exchange has become one of my favorite yearly events. Nothing brings people together like good food and good company.
There are many different ways to host a cookie exchange. Some people have strict “rules or guidelines”. Personally, I am not comfortable telling people what they can or cannot bring. Oddly enough, only once have I had two people bring the same kind of cookies.
The purpose of my cookie exchange is to bring people together to enjoy some delicious home cooked food, enjoy good company and to leave with an amazing assortment of homemade treats. My guidelines are simple:
- Every guest/family brings 3 dozen of their favorite home baked cookie, candy and/or nuts.
- In the event you come empty handed, you are welcome to enjoy brunch, but you cannot take any treats home with you.
- No store-bought cookies or candies allowed. You can make cookies from a mix or even slice and bake.
- No kids allowed until they reach 12. In the beginning the party was only for us ladies. A few years ago, one of the husbands asked if they could come. Since we are all empty nesters, I now include the husbands and they can enjoy brunch. However, they usually congregate upstairs in our game room leaving us ladies’ downstairs to visit.
- For many years we had an ornament exchange at the party. I have so many beautiful and special ornaments that still hang on my tree leaving me with fond memories of past parties. One year we all brought canned/dry food items and donated to a local food bank. If you do something like this, I recommend a putting monetary limit on what guests should spend. I also wrapped a couple of extra ornaments just in case someone forgot to bring one. I never wanted anyone to feel left out.
- I usually send an inexpensive party favor of some sort home with guests. Some of these were cute holiday cookie cutters, DIY bath salts or stovetop potpourri.
2020 has been a tough year on everyone and a little holiday cheer was in order. Since the Covid virus was still present, we were careful and took some precautions. We kept the party to a small group. One person served the lunch for all of the guests. All of us wore gloves when we were exchanging the cookies.
This was the first time any of them had participated in a cookie exchange and what a treat it was for all of us. The look on their faces when they were exchanging cookies was priceless. I am looking forward to doing this again next year.
Here is the menu I served this year and the links to the recipes are below it.
Baby Green Salad with an Orange and Fig Vinaigrette
Baked Cheese Blintz Casserole with Blueberry Sauce
Chocolate Cups with Mixed Berries and Creme Anglaise
Happy Holidays to everyone and I hope you enjoy the recipes!