Monday, 4 December 2017

Planning a Cookie Exchange Party!


Each year I love throwing some sort of Christmas holiday party. Last year we invited some friends from my kids school over and we asked them to bring a gift to donate to our local charity.

This year, I decided to do a cookie exchange party! While I've never hosted or been part of one, I was up for the challenge. We invited 8 ladies and their sweet daughters over to share some delicious treats and exchange some cookies! I thought it would be such a fun way to mingle and take home some delicious baked goodies as well.


As I was doing more research (after all, I had never done one before!) I realized that there is so much information out there. I ended up deciding that there had to be some basic ground rules so that no one is left feeling hurt and that everyone leaves with lots of delicious cookies to share with their families.

INVITATIONS

Here were the rules I sent out in my invites...

1. Please bring 6 dozen cookies to share and exchange. I know it seems like alot, but you will leave with almost the same amount you brought to bring home. (This is basically triple most basic cookie recipes)
2. Cookies need to be handmade and baked. Flour must be the main ingredient. (That way all cookies are about the same quality!)
3. If something comes up but you would like to attend, please bring cookies from a bakery (as long as they are still handmade)
4. There will be some really fun prizes! There will be a winner for prettiest cookie, fan favorite and most creative.
5. Please bring cookies in a sturdy container. I will have cake stands for us to use for tasting and cookie judging. I will also have packaging for us to pack up cookies at the end of the night.
6. Do not eat before you come! There will be lots of cookies (obviously!) and I'll have some savory food as well.

I asked guests to come with 6 dozen cookies. I know, no easy task for the working lady or busy mama. But I wanted to make it worth each person's time for all the baking. The plan was to put out about a dozen of each cookie for tasting and snacking on. This way everyone could get a taste and be able to cast their vote. The rest of the cookies got divided evenly between the number of guests. So for 72 cookies, we take out a dozen to taste and so 60 cookies get split up between 8 ladies (which leaves about 6-8 of each cookie for the guests).

PRIZES AND VOTING

I decided to have a little fun by doing some cute prizes for 3 categories: prettiest cookie, fan favorite, and most creative. I thought it would make it really fun for the kids to vote as well! When I was thinking of what the prizes could be, I decided to keep it baking related. A trip to my local homesense and local grocery store (Superstore) was all I needed to find some cute goodies. We ended up choosing holiday inspired cookie cutters, adorable sprinkles (these are a major step-up from your regular sprinkles!) and mini spatulas. Perfect for cookie making!








CREATING A DISPLAY & TABLE SETTING

This is by far my favorite part of parties! I love creating a little space that is festive and fits in with the celebration. It works great for a fun background to take your pictures in front of. And it always ends up being the gathering place for guests - big and small.

I always try for one big element - like a banner, balloons, or some big art work. Then I add in smaller elements like stands (which adds depth and height), cake stands, baskets, platters and bowls. For the cookie party I planned to use a Merry Christmas banner with 2 small table top trees. Then I planned to add in some bowls and containers for milk, candy canes, small bottlebrush trees and snacks. I love having a fun little backdrop for pictures.

And I ended up borrowing a few white cake stands from my friend to set up the cookies. I placed them down the middle of my table. I knew there would be lots of cookies and that a simple setup would be enough.

PACKAGING UP COOKIES

Wrapping them up! I thought it would be really fun to have some cute wrapping elements for the cookies the ladies would be taking home. I got some clear bakery boxes for the ladies to use when packing them up. I also had smaller cello bags for stacking up same styles of cookies if they didn't want them to be all mixed up. I had a collection of gift tags, washi tape, scissors, and ribbon that they could use to dress them up a bit.



CHOOSING YOUR COOKIES

And finally the cookies! Probably the most fun part of the exchange. I would recommend cookies that are festive and fun. And make sure your cookies are fairly easy to transport. Thin delicate cookies may not transport easily!

We decided to make our favorite chocolate chip cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction. They are the chewiest, softest best cookies ever. My entire family loved them so much. We wanted to spruce them up a bit for the party and added alot of sprinkles to the mix (We just cut back on the chocolate chips...) The kids absolutely loved adding in sprinkles and they made them look really really festive.

The party was on Saturday, and we made the the dough on Thurs, rolled them into balls and chilled them overnight, and just popped them into the oven Friday. This made sure they were fresh and it made for a fun and tasty Friday. I have done this a few times with baking and love that the next day you don't have anything to clean! It feels like wonderful. Just warn your little helpers that there will NOT be any cookies that same day.




Side note: I ended up tripling my cookie recipe. I usually use my mixer stand, and didn't realize how much dough it would actually be! Once I started on my wet ingredients, I knew that there was no way I could mix it all up. Sadly, I had already premeasured all my dry ingredients and I couldn't split it up. So I ended up mixing them by hand, which I was cursing myself for. I feel it's my duty to warn you so this doesnt happen to anyone else!

Cant wait to share the post of the actual cookie exchange! Stay tuned this week!

HAPPY PARTY PLANNING!


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