I love Christmas baking. I love the new recipes and the tried and true recipes. I love everything about the sweet aromas and time-honored family traditions. That is until I’m three batches into the fifth recipe and I hit the wall, cracked-out on sugar and surrounded by spilled flour and soiled Kitchen Aid parts. I want to provide Santa a bountiful arrangement but I don’t have the patience to create so many different varieties of cookies. What is a Wilderness Girl to do?
Enter the Cookie Swap. The cookie swap is a brilliant event for which each participant bakes several dozens of one type of cookie to exchange with other bakers. You choose your favorite recipe and mass-produce one type, and at the swap, you receive a wide selection of cookies in return. All the variety with none of the hassle of testing and buying ingredients for a bunch of different recipes. The beauty of a Cookie Swap is that it can be as relaxed or as fancy as you want it to be. It can be a small swap between just a few friends, or it can be a bigger group with friends of friends who you’re meeting for the first time. You can do a ballot for cookie superlatives such as best cookie, easiest recipe and most unique, or you can just appreciate each cookie on its own. Whatever you choose will be fun. After all, it’s your party, you can swap how you want to. Regardless of how simple or detailed your party will be, there are a few steps that are crucial to the success of your Cookie Swap:
You must get your Cookie Swap on the calendar early because aint no’body got time for that during the weekend before Christmas. Don’t worry about having the party too early because most cookies freeze really well and you will be grateful for your frozen stash when unexpected guests pop over and you’re able to whip up a cookie tray and hot cocoa bar on short notice.
Take the time to do “real” paper invitations because an invitation sets the tone for your party and it gives your guests all the important details of your swap. There are so many adorable options available online at every price point (including free), that I curated a little collection for you to peruse on Pinterest. The invitation is where you tell your guests the when and where, and how many treats to bring (along with whether to package them separately or bring them all in one big container to be divvied up during the event). If you want them to hold out a dozen for sampling at the party let ‘em know on the invitation. If you have anyone in the group with food allergies, the invitation is the perfect place to spread the word. It is also OK to specify “homemade” on the invite if you suspect someone might go with store bought. After all, the whole point is to swap treats with your friends, not those little guys who bake cookies in the hollow tree, right?
Pre-plan how you want your guests to share their recipes with each other. You can provide blank cards with your invitation or ask your guests to create a recipe card to share. Perhaps you’re collecting all the recipes to include in a little booklet as a party favor. For a more sustainable option exchange recipes via email.
Here’s your opportunity to get creative and reduce the amount of packaging each person uses. Ask your guests to please bring all of their cookies in one large container instead of individual zippie bags. Then, provide cookie tins to each of your guests to take their swapped cookies home in. You’ll still need parchment or freezer paper on hand to wrap up particularly sticky or fragrant cookies that don’t store well with others, but the majority of the packaging can be done with tins which last for ages, can be reused year after year and are recyclable at the end of their useful life.
The Wilderness Girls did a little Cookie Swapping last weekend, and here are our recipes:
Christie’s Recipe: Nigella’s Christmas Chocolate Biscuits
Christina’s Recipe: KISSES Macaroon Cookies Recipe
Jenny’s Recipe: Betty Crocker’s Cream Wafers
Why this cookie is special to Jenny: These were my Aunt Eileen’s favorite cookies, and I remember many a year that my mom and I would go to her house to make them. They are a great kid-helping recipe too. You can have the kids in your family help cut them out, poke the holes in them with a fork, or ice them. We always did the traditional pink, green and yellow icings, but nowadays the icing color possibilities are endless!
Rachael’s Recipe: Mamaw’s Nut Cups
Why this cookie is special to Rachael: When I was a girl, my Mamaw, my Mom and I would sit in Mamaw’s tiny yellow kitchen making nut cups for hours and hours because she never just made one batch. All the time we thought we were making cookies we were really making memories and our own family tradition. This will be Elizabeth’s first year in the kitchen making Nut Cups with Mom and Grandma and the tradition continues.
We had a great time hanging out together and visiting over warm cups of cocoa and more than a few cookies. It was such fun to hear the stories and traditions behind each selection and share some of our favorite treats with some of our favorite girls. Will you try a cookie swap this year? What recipe would you take if you were invited to one?