Forget wine tasting. (Did we say that?) Okay, don’t forget it. But just this once, switch up your party style and host a cookie exchange, the cookie equivalent of a wine tasting. A cookie exchange allows you and your guests to sample and share a variety of cookies and recipes (and yes, you can still serve wine). Here are 10 easy tips for hosting a successful and scrumptious cookie exchange.
Set the date
Send out invitations for your 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. If you’re really crafty, make some fun invitations cut in cookie-cutter shapes or attach an invitation to a spatula or cookie cutter (and hand-deliver the party request).
Ask each guest to pre-package at least half a dozen cookies for each guest, plus an extra dozen to enjoy during the exchange. For the most delicious cookie swap, require that all cookies be homemade. After all, what’s the fun of simply picking up a store-bought package? Homemade cookies are so much better!
Cover your cookies
When your guests RSVP for the cookie swap, ask them to tell you what kind of cookies they’ll be bringing so you can eliminate duplications. Encourage your cookie swappers to go beyond the basic chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin or sugar cookie and bring cookies that offer something extra special. If guests are feeling uninspired, keep a list of cookie suggestions or pass along an interesting recipe that you’ve wanted to try.
Set the stage
On the day of your cookie exchange, set up a main table where you and your guests can sit down and enjoy the array of cookies. Set up a buffet table or other area where your guests can set out the cookies they bring for take-home, as well as a serve-yourself beverage station (more on that below). Put out a small stack of index cards and some pens on the main table so each guest can label her sample plate of cookies.
Let there be wine
A 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 (see, we told you!), sparkling wine or Champagne, and sherry or port. If kids will be attending, serve a yummy punch or have some juice on hand. Keep a pitcher of iced water with lemon slices on the main table for guests to cleanse their palates in between cookie samples.
Your guests will most likely bring containers to package up the different types of cookies they glean from the party, but having a few extras on hand just in case is a good idea. Pick up decorative tins, boxes and baskets at your local dollar store, craft store or discount store for a steal.
As your guests arrive, arrange their sampler platters 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 help themselves to their beverages of choice and gather at the main table.
Share a story
Ask each guest to share why she chose to make this specific cookie recipe. Does it have a story behind it? Was this the first time she’s ever baked this cookie, or is this her grandmother’s secret recipe? Sharing stories about the cookies will help you learn about more than just the chocolate chips.
Propose a recipe exchange
If guests are willing to part with their recipes, encourage them to jot their email addresses on a provided notepad. Once the party is over, email the list to all of your guests, including a cookie recipe of your own to get the recipe exchange started.
Don’t let anyone lose her cookies
As the cookie exchange comes to an end, make sure each of your guests picks up her collection of cookies and containers.
If you have more cookies than you can possibly eat or serve at upcoming gatherings, repackage them in airtight containers and freeze them.
- Butter Pecan Cookies
- Shortbread Drop Cookies
- Truly Old-fashioned Molasses Cookies