**PLEASE NOTICE EVERYTHING IN RED IS A LINK TO A RECIPE**
When to plan your Cookie Exchange Party
I always plan the party either the first or second Saturday in the month as I know that December calendars fill up for most people. I hold my exchange in the afternoon. However, you could do a night exchange and incorporate dinner with it. I plan to do that once my kids get a little older. Also you could do a cookie exchange at your work or even at your church.
I always have a big buffet of food with my exchange. You have the option to either serve food or just serve drinks. This year my food 'theme' is appetizers so I'm making an array of appetizers for everyone to enjoy. Themes are always fun but you don't necessarily have to go with one. You could do brunch if it's a late morning party, or a dinner for an evening affair. Here are some menus to consider:
A Chocolate Affair - In addition to the cookie swap, you can have a chocolate buffet with chocolate cake, a chocolate fountain with fruit, hot chocolate, chocolate fudge, brownies etc. I bet your guests won't be disappointed.
Foods of the World - Make it a 'cookies from around the world' theme and have your guests make a cookie from another country and incorporate your food menu with it!
Holiday Feast - Turkey or Ham as the main dish and then have each guest bring a side. This would be a great idea for a night cookie exchange.
Brunch - Breakfast and lunch items! Yum! You can let your imagination run wild with this idea. And don't forget the mimosas!!
If you don't have time to cook, don't want to ask people to bring a dish, or just want something easy, consider ordering platters from your local deli at the grocery store or platters from your favorite restaurant. This saves time but may cost you a bit more.
Here is my menu this year:
Baked Brie with Raspberry Jam
Fruit and Brownie Trifle
These are the rules that were on Robin Olson's website. I used some of these the first year. However, I have since adapted my own. Here are her rules and then you'll find my rules :)
Robin Olson's RULES OF THE COOKIE EXCHANGE
1. All cookies should be homemade, baked and main ingredient must be flour.
2. No plain chocolate chip cookies, cookie mixes, no-bakes, meringues or bars.
3. Please bring 6 dozen total cookies.
4. The theme is "Christmas Cookies" (You can make any theme you like.)
5. Arrange cookies in a basket or platter and be creative! Bring a large container to carry away your cookie, (or the hostess can provide a take away container.)
6. Email a copy of your recipe before the party (or bring recipe to the party)
7. Christmas (or theme) attire is encouraged!
8. RSVP as soon as you can and let me know what type of cookies you are planning on baking - no duplicate recipes allowed
9. There's a prize for the best Christmas outfit. (Give prizes!)
10. If you don't have time to bake, or have burnt your cookies, but still want to attend,
you must go to a real bakery and buy 6 dozen yummy cookies.
^^^^Note that I copied and pasted this from www.cookie-exchange.com.^^^^
I DO NOT USE THESE RULES! I am not anal about the cookies that my guests bring. I just want everyone to have fun. Here are MY rules:
1. Cookies should be homemade. No bake cookies are okay, but definitely not preferred.
2. Bars and candies are fine and definitely welcomed.
3. Store bought cookies may be brought, but only if you burn your cookies or if you don't have time to bake or in general are just not a good baker.
4. Please bake 6 dozen cookies. This can change depending upon the # of guests attending your exchange. I have heard of hostesses asking guests to bring anywhere between 2 to 12 dozen cookies. I think 6 dozen is perfect.
5. Please bring copies of your cookie recipe with you. (This will be the first year I will be incorporating this as trying to get everyone to email me their cookie recipe in time for the party is always a pain in the butt)
6. NO KIDS ALLOWED!!!!
7. RSVP ASAP!!!! (this is a must and one of the biggest issues I have every year)
8. Christmas attire is optional. Just be comfortable!
9. Please bring a large container with you to carry away all of your cookies.
That's it. Those are the rules that I follow every year. They seem to work out and since I have repeated guests they know the drill :) One year I had everyone wear their favorite Christmas PJ's and that was a ton of fun. I would do it again but some of the ladies had to run errands either before or after my party and they didn't quite like doing the errands in their pj's. LOL!
Reindeer Antler Game - This game is HILARIOUS and always ensures lots of funny pictures and tons of laughs. Here is the link for the directions of the game and some pics from my last cookie exchange. http://www.santalady.com/xmasgame/reindeerantler.html
Can't say cookie game - Make necklaces using small candy canes and red ribbons. When the guests arrive, give each person a necklace to wear and tell them they're not allowed to say the word cookie. If a person says "cookie", they lose their candy cane necklace to the person who caught them saying it. At the end of the cookie exchange, the person with the most candy cane necklaces gets a prize. **For the necklaces I got mardi gras beads in Christmas colors.**
Two Truths and a Lie - (courtesy of www.cookie-exchange.com) - This can even be played with friends that know each other well. Everyone writes down two truths and a lie about themselves. When everyone is finished, you go around the room and read the 3 things you've listed about yourself. One by one everyone guesses which is the lie. After everyone has guess your answer, you reveal which is the lie and you move on to the next person. Each guest keeps a tally of how many lies they've detected. The person that guesses the most lies, wins.
Here are some other ideas:
I am incorporating a new game this year. This is courtesy of my friend Dawn. I will give everyone a plain large index card and a pen. They will place the card on their head with one hand and then with the other hand they will draw Santa. I will give everyone 1 minute to do this. The best drawing of Santa will win.
Good prizes for games:
Christmas Money Scratch Tickets
Christmas Kitchen Towels
Bath and Body Products
TABLE DECORATION IDEAS!!!!
Here are some links for some great ideas for decorating the cookie table. I did this one year and it was fun, however you can also just let the cookies be the decor ;-)
Wine Glasses and Tea Lights
Christmas Ornament Bowl
Christmas Candle Ornaments
These are my 'standard' cookies I make every year.
CHERRY BONBON COOKIES
Here are some my friends have brought:
Eggnog Filled Cookie Cups
Chocolate Dipped Brandy Snaps
Pumpkin Walnut Cookies
Lemon Frosted Ginger Cookies
Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Peppermint Bark Cookie Tartlets
Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies
Ukrainian Sugar Cookies
Orange Ricotta Cookies
IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS!!!!
* Make sure to send out "Save the Date" reminders at least a month or two in advance. Holiday calendars fill up fast so to get the most yes RSVP's, you must make sure your guests have time to plan.
* To help get RSVP's in, promote a prize for the first to RSVP. This does help because don't we all like prizes?
* Have a prize for the person who wears the best Christmas Socks.
* I have stopped giving prizes out for "Best Tasting Cookie", "Cookie with the most ingredients", "Most Unique Cookie" etc. You can definitely do this, but having my guests vote for their favorites never seemed to work out too well.
* Take LOTS of pictures!! And don't forget the group photo! This is a must for my scrapbook. And you can always send everyone a nice thank you note and include a photo of the group.
* Shop the after Christmas sales for prizes and decorations for your next cookie party.
* Incorporate a gift exchange or ornament exchange!! I DO THIS EVERY YEAR! The first two years I did a Christmas ornament exchange. Last year I did a gift exchange. I love doing this and last year was such a success that we're doing a gift exchange this year. I advise the ladies not to spend over $15. It's always a good time stealing gifts from each other ;-)
* Instead of doing the gift exchange, have your guests bring a toy or stuffed animal so you can donate them to a local children's hospital or a homeless shelter.
I'll leave you with some pictures of my cookie exchanges. I hope I have inspired you to throw your own holiday cookie exchange party!
1st Year Table of Cookies
2nd Year Table of Cookies
3rd Year Cookie Table (well one of them)
The serious part of the party - the cookie swap!
My 1st Year
My 2nd Year
My 3rd Year