“ Christmas bells, sleighs, Santa, trees and stars, too.  All with sprinkly things on top.”  These holiday words are from the song, “Christmas Cookies,” by George Strait.  Really?  A song devoted to Christmas cookies?  So why not a Christmas cookie exchange party?

That must be because making and sharing Christmas cookies are part of those bright memories and traditions that Christmas offers. Remember those days of yore when bowls of various colored frostings and decorations were set out on the counter? Everyone would gather round, to bake Grandma’s favorite sugar cookies.Then we would cut them into the shapes of holly leaves, Santa faces, and Christmas trees to name just a few.  Do you remember your favorite design? I do. It was a holly cut out and I remember the bright green frosting with the cinnamon candies, that I placed on those cookies, as if it were just yesterday.

Sadly, though it seems that today our baking takes a back seat to all the other activities that Christmas places on our to-do lists. Those Christmas plates with several dozen varieties of cookies seem only to be a part of the memories. It doesn’t have to be that way though. It’s time to put on some Christmas music and your thinking cap for some planning ideas. This particular party idea is guaranteed to add cheer to this wonderful time of the year.  

Christmas Cookie Exchange Party

Now that you have music and memories dancing in your head, it’s time to use both to host a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party. After all, the music is playing, shopping is well on its way, and almost done, Santa’s visits are upon us, lights are twinkling, and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care. In addition, the house is decorated from top to bottom. Everything is just like a Norman Rockwell painting.  Well, maybe, not all of this is done quite yet, but it’s time now to have a relaxing fun get together with your friends.

Invitations

In my case, I sent invitations for A Christmas Cookies Exchange Party to ten friends about two weeks ago and asked them to bring ten dozen cookies, plus another half-dozen or so to sample on our party day. Can’t skip that sampling idea!  After all, it’s Christmas! So ten friends are coming for a fun fete. You can have, of course, more or less people on your guest list, depending on whom you want and how much baking you think you and everyone else would like to do. This was a doable number for the guests that I had in mind, so ten was the magic guest list number.

In the invitations, I asked my friends to RSVP with the type of cookies they were bringing, to avoid duplication of varieties. It definitely must be a magical time of the year, because no one had the same.  And, tomorrow is the big day.  Everyone will be bringing their cookies, along with their cookie recipes. They are invited to come ready to sample, eat, and relax. What fun words to hear at this hectic time. Breath deep will be the order of the day and in doing so it will be a time to connect with each other. Holiday spirit in all its finery.

Preparations

I have everything prepared for the party because I have already set my largest table with festive bowls, platters, and all holiday-related paraphernalia.  I did use a few footed crystal cake stands with red and green paper doilies for visual appeal. I also have several sets of green and red tongs for each platter.  I purchased inexpensive paper bakery boxes that I decorated with Christmas bows, ribbons, and twine. My friends will be able to package their cookies and take them home in style. It’s definitely the holiday theme and the whole atmosphere is one of “Deck the Halls.”  Yes, it’s perfect.

Party Refreshments

So the next step was to decide what else to serve at this party.  With those extra cookies that each guest is bringing, I’m sure the sweet tooth that I possess will definitely think it’s Christmas in heaven. And, knowing my friends, I can say it’s a pretty good bet that they won’t be following diets too stringently either.  I thought though that I would offset these sweet treats with a brunch casserole, granola, yogurt, and fruits for the 10 am party. The menu of snacks and refreshments should change depending on when the party will be held.   Serving beverages and food that compliment the time of the day is a must.  Hot tea, coffee, and a fun hot chocolate bar are what I will be serving. A festive martini with cranberry skewers and a sparkling wine would be in order for afternoon hours.  Come to think of it,  I think a hot chocolate bar would be a must whatever time of the day.  After all, isn’t hot chocolate a cookie’s best friend? Indeed, it is.

It’s decided then, a hot chocolate bar to compliment the cookie exchange no matter the time. I went to Sam’s Club and bought the cutest ceramic inexpensive mugs in the holiday theme of course. They range from penguins to Santa, to snowmen, and even Christmas trees. I plan to have hot water and hot milk in different dispensers on the decorated bar area. You could add an alcoholic mix such as Kahlua, Baileys, Peppermint Schnapps, a dessert wine… Just an idea. I also found at World Market flavored marshmallows with Vanilla, Gingerbread, Peppermint and Neapolitan Ice Cream. Oh, yum. What a find. Also there I purchased different flavors of hot chocolate including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, salted caramel, gingerbread, and white mocha. Delightful!  I then will add peppermint sticks, cinnamon sticks and chocolate hazelnut pirouettes for stirring these delicious concoctions.  Toppings include peppermint Andes cups, candy bar (Twix, in my case), chocolate chips, caramel bits, peanut butter chips, nuts, Christmas sprinkles, coconut, and don’t forget the whipped cream. You can use your favorite ideas too.  Decadence?  Awww, yes!  No better way to top off those cookies.

Music and Party Favors

I have the playlist ready on iTunes with all the favorite Christmas music so it’s almost time to get together for a low key, no activity type party. We’ll be just sitting, relaxing, chatting, and eating.  Then everyone will go home with ten dozen cookies in a cute, decorated festive box, along with a little party favor.  

Christmas Cookie Exchange Party

In addition, and just for a little apropos flare, I decided to get little party favors which are a simple little cookie cutter, a Christmas spatula, both of which I placed in a Christmas oven mitt. I tied it together with a large candy cane and ribbon. I found these at Target, but I saw similar items at Home Goods, and Hobby Lobby. Gift-giving at this time of the year is so contagious and just something as simple as this adds cheer and fun at this holiday time. I also saw some darling red and white polka-dotted aprons on Amazon that would have been such fun too, but I will save that for an idea for another year.

It’s Time

It’s ready!  The ideas that you might have could be all personalized by you for this great party. This just gets you started. Maybe you’ll want to  add a white elephant gift exchange, wear ugly Christmas sweaters, decorate gingerbread houses or cookies at the gathering, play other Christmas related games…or just sit and relax like we plan to do.  These are just a few variations that you might want to try at your very own and perhaps annual Christmas Cookie Exchange Party. Whatever you do and whenever you decide to host this party, I hope you enjoy.

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas everyone. Christmas get togethers with cookies is part of the wonder. Don’t forget to sing that new song…after all it’s that wonderful time of the year.