With dreadful winter weather greeting us each morning, it may be becoming increasingly hard to drag ourselves out of bed to work, and even more difficult to force ourselves to dress up for a night out. The thought of walking through snow and slush to the nearest bar, only to stand in line or have to pay an exorbitant cover fee seems too much of a hassle for a simple Friday night. Especially when all the while you’re wishing you were cozy at home with some close friends. For all the closet-homebodies who really just want to stay in this weekend, here’s the perfect winter activity: a cookie exchange with friends and family!
It’s simple and fun, and much more satisfying than going out in this weather! Here are some tips and tricks for organizing and hosting your own cookie exchange this season. From invitations to cookie take-home gifts, the cookie exchange party planning process requires some proactive steps! We’ll guide you through:
Step 1: Invite your guests!
- This should be done 3-4 weeks in advance, giving everyone ample notice so they can clear their schedules. A manageable number of guests is in the ballpark of around 10 people. Let them know in their invitations to bring along their recipes to share!
Step 2: Cookie Baking
- In your invitations, let everyone know to make a dozen cookies for every guest, plus a couple extra for sampling on the night of! Every guest can leave the party with several dozen in plenty of varieties. To make sure there are no duplicates (or as little as possible, because, come on, everyone loves chocolate chip), make sure everyone states their cookie of choice, and coordinates with other guests.
- Ask your guests to forward you their cookie recipes, so you can print them all out beforehand. You can even make a small book with all of the recipes from the night, and hand them out to your guests.
Step 3: Make Your Display Cards
- Beforehand, make your own folding place cards for each variety of cookie that’s coming. You can write the name of the cookie and baker on the card, so everyone knows who to compliment! You could also make a master card that lists every type of cookie available.
Step 4: Gift Station
- Set aside a station near your cookie table for guests to pack up a “doggie bag” before they leave. At the station, you can include boxes for storing cookies, ribbons, stickers, markers, tissue paper, etc. Get creative! The whole process should be fun. The guests can each decorate and design their own take-home gift, and include their favourite cookies of the night.
Step 5: Prepare the Party Area
- Spend a few minutes decorating and preparing an area to display the cookies.
- Have platters ready for cookies brought for sampling.
- Choose music ahead of time and have it playing when your guests arrive.
- Clean your house the day before the party so that on the day of the exchange, you can just tidy.
- Have a section of delicious quick and easy appetizers to serve your guests.
- Have a selection of sparkling water, fruit juices or other refreshing beverages to enjoy while you taste your cookies.
Just to prove what a successful cookie exchange party looks like, we’ve taken the liberty of showing you a recent exchange from an online blogger.
The Party Area:
Make Your Own Crock-Pot hot chocolate recipe:
Ingredients (8 Servings)
- 2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 (14 Oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 6 Cups Milk (use whole milk for extra thick hot chocolate)
- 2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
- In a large Crock-Pot combine all ingredients and stir.
- Cover with lid and cook on low for 2 hours, whisking every now and then to combine the melted chocolate chips with the milk.
- Ladle into mugs and serve with marshmallows or whipped cream.
Treats on the Side:
Make Your Own Cookie Dough Dip!
Ingredients (for Base Dip):
- 1 pkg of cream cheese (8 oz)
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar (if you have it, otherwise increase powdered)
- 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tea vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Any additional mix-ins you’d like!
For Salted Caramel Cocoa variety, add:
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup of Trader Joe’s Fleur De Sel Caramel Sauce
- Soften your butter in the microwave and combine with all the sugars, cream cheese, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
- Fold in your chocolate chips with a spatula. At this point, it is traditional cookie dip – ready to be enjoyed.
- (To make it Salted Caramel Cocoa flavor) Stir in your cocoa powder until thoroughly incorporated. Then, heat your caramel sauce for approximately 5-10 seconds in the microwave to make it pliable. Add it to your dip and fold in gently using a spatula.
- Serve with sliced granny smith apples, graham crackers, or even a bagel! Hey, it’s basically Cookie dough cream cheese after all! Nom!
Print on White Card Stock and attach to paper straws of your choosing. For the blank ones, use a white paint pen to personalize.
Print the stickers below on adhesive paper (Staples brand sticker paper) so your guests can decorate their cookie boxes with them…
For a full look at the cookie exchange pictured above, click on the first three links below.
Sources (images included):