Now is the time to set a date and send out invitations for your Christmas cookie swap (the earlier the better). The more cookie-toting guests at your sweet affair, the more varieties and quantity of cookies you'll have. For a unique array of Christmas cookies, encourage your cookie swappers to go beyond the basic chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin or sugar cookie and bring cookies that offer something extra special.
To make sure there are enough cookies for the actual Christmas cookie exchange and for guests to take home, on the invitations, ask each guest to bring at least a half-dozen for each guest attending the cookie swap plus an extra dozen to enjoy during the confection exchange. For the most delicious Christmas cookie swap, also indicate that all cookies must be homemade (we can all go to the store and buy dozens of cookies; a homemade cookie swap gives people the satisfaction of biting into fresh baked cookies that they didn't have to slave hours in the kitchen baking).
When your guests RSVP for the cookie swap, follow up with them to see what types of cookies they will bring. Keep a list and make sure there are no duplications. You can also keep a list of cookies you'd like to have at your party and share it with the guests that don't know what type of cookie to bake. Tell each guest to pre-package cookies in half-dozen bunches to make it easy for guests to pick them up when the party is over and to bring a sampler platter of cookies that will be enjoyed during the exchange.
On the day of your Christmas cookie exchange, brighten up the room in which you'll be hosting your cookie swap with Christmas ornaments and other holiday décor. Set up a main table where you and your guests will sit down and enjoy the array of cookies; cover it with a Christmas themed tablecloth and top with a pretty holiday centerpiece. Set the table with Christmas-themed plates and napkins. Set up and decorate two or three smaller tables for beverages and pre-packaged cookies.
The tasty array of cookies lends itself to many choices for beverages. Milk, coffee and tea are givens, but you can add an elegant touch to your exchange with red wine (especially good with chocolate), sparkling wine or Champagne, and sherry or port. If kids will be attending, include a holiday punch. Keep a glass of iced water with lemon slices on the main table for guests to cleanse their palate in between types of cookies, if desired.
Your guests will most likely bring containers to package up the different types of cookies they glean from the party. However, keep some Christmas-themed containers on hand just in case. You can pick up decorative tins, boxes or even baskets at your local dollar store or supermarket Christmas aisle.
As your guests arrive, arrange their sampler platter of cookies on the main table and set their pre-packaged cookies on one of the additional tables. When it's time to start nibbling, direct guests to get their beverage of choice and gather at the main table. Pass cookies around and let the cooking sampling begin.
Have each guest describe their type of cookie and what makes it special. Every recipe has a story behind it and the holidays always seem to be the opportune time to share such stories.
While the cookie talk is commencing, ask guests if they would like to share their cookie recipes. If so, pass out a tablet and gather each guest's contact information (email is easiest). Once the party is over, email the list to all of your guests, including a cookie recipe of your own to get the cookie recipe exchange started.
At the conclusion of your Christmas cookie swap, make sure each of your guests picks up their collection of cookies, providing containers if necessary.
If you have more cookies than you can possibly eat or serve at upcoming holiday gatherings, repackage cookies in airtight containers and freeze them. Having a Christmas cookie exchange doesn't mean all the cookies have to be eaten during the holidays.
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