Holiday baking season is upon us. Lighten the load, diversify your recipe rolodex and enjoy time with friends and family by hosting a festive potluck-style holiday cookie exchange. Here’s how to organize the swap.
Select your guest list
One of the best parts about a holiday cookie exchange is that everyone gets to bring a flavorful assortment of goodies home with them. Keep this in mind when sending out invites. This is not the time to invite the entire neighborhood over. Hillary Needle, president of Hillary Needle Events, Inc., suggested limiting the guest list to 10 or 12 reliable friends and family members.
Andrea Correale, president of Elegant Affairs in Glen Cove, recommended hosting the party one-week prior to the holiday to ensure the cookies stay fresh for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Lay the groundwork
Two hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is a great time to host a cookie swap because it gives busy guests (and the host) enough time in the morning to bake or defrost their goodies, Needle said. She recommended sending out invitations a month before the swap with the following requests:
- Each guest will need to RSVP at least two weeks before with the type of cookie they will bring. Guests should offer one dozen cookies to share and sample at the party and another one dozen cookies for each person attending to take home.
- Ask the guests to advise of any food allergies so everyone can safely take part in the exchange.
- Ask each guest to email the recipe they selected one week before the swap. Compile them into a booklet for everyone to take home. Note: the host should moderate the type of cookies guests are bringing to ensure a plentiful variety.
Correale also recommended having a few tried-and-true recipes ready to share with guests who don’t have one of their own.
Be sure to have plenty of decorative trays to display the cookies. Design table signs in advance or use a chalkboard at each station with the “menu” for the day. Decorate the space with festive holiday tablecloths and tableware. And establish a designated “drop-station” to place the “to-go” cookies separately from the cookies being sampled.
Serve a variety of coffee, tea and hot chocolate and put a personal touch on the party by inventing a signature cocktail. “A fruit platter is also a welcome addition for those who’ve had one cookie too many,” Needle added.
Finally, the host should have extra zipper bags, plastic containers with lids, wax paper and plastic wrap so guests can pack up their treats, Needle said.