Have you ever wished you could have an amazing cookie spread to showcase to your family and friends during the holidays? My Italian God Mother always has an elaborate cookie table, all homemade which takes her weeks to prepare. I always wished to have that in my home without having to spend the time on making dozens of different holiday cookies. Between buying all the ingredients, making the dough, baking the cookies and decorating them, (whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it) you could have it all in one night. Yes! It’s true, it’s The Cookie Swap and it’s the way to go! If you’re lucky you will be invited to one this year, if not, host one, you won’t regret it! The Cookie Swap will become your new favorite holiday tradition and I promise you, your kids and your partner will be so happy to see the variety of wonderful homemade goodies you bring home.
Now that I’ve hosted a one and as a guest of a few, I have some “Do’s and Don’ts” that will help you if you get the best invitation of the season or decide you would like to host one. Luckily, I have an Italian God Mother and a Pizzelle press handed down to me from my Pop-Pop, so I’m pretty set each year with our traditional recipes. But, between the internet and Pinterest, I’m sure you will find just the right cookie to make if you don’t have a family favorite.
FOLLOW THE RULES
If you get an invite to a Cookie Swap, by all means, follow what your hostess has asked of you. If she asks for 3 dozen, you better show up with 3 dozen! I don’t mean to sound like a cookie nag, but you have to bring the exact amount (or more) to be fair when swapping. It may seem like a lot of cookies to make, but that means you will be walking home with 3 dozen amazing cookies that you didn’t have to make! WIN! Also, some Cookie Swaps I’ve been to have asked to bring a few extra cookies for a sampling tray, that way the guests can taste the cookies without digging into the “swap cookies”. Those tasting cookies could be part of prizes for Best Tasting, Most Original, Prettiest Cookie and more, depending on what your hostess has in store. And of course, try to bring a hostess gift, she is saving you from making a ton of different cookies just in time for the holidays.
MAKE AHEAD DOUGH
When it comes to the task of making the cookies, try to choose a cookie dough that you can make ahead of time. That will leave you with the baking and decorating the day of the swap, less mess and more time to look fabulous and not like you just made 3 dozen cookies before walking in the door (I made that mistake…once). Some of my favorites make-ahead cookie doughs are gingerbread, peanut butter, and good old sugar cookie. Some cookies you can make ahead, bake and freeze and they will do just fine (just remember to give them plenty of time to defrost). If you’ve got a recipe that you can do that, double WIN!
DON’T FAKE BAKE
For goodness sake, don’t walk into a Cookie Swap with store-bought cookies and think you are going to fool anyone! I’ve seen it, it’s embarrassing for the swapper and it’s tacking. It also isn’t fair for all the other swappers who took the time to make homemade goodies to swap with a store-bought cookie (even if it looks pretty and perfect). So, if this is your first Cookie Swap rodeo, just know that the swappers take this pretty serious so don’t fake bake.
HIRE THE KIDS
Who couldn’t use a few extra hands when you’ve got more cookies to make then the doughboy? Kids love to help in the kitchen and it gives them so much joy especially this time of year. You might be creating memories that will last a lifetime (when else are going to have a house full of more cookies than they could eat?) So, turn up the holiday tunes, put on the aprons and get them working (remember to have them wash their little hands first, of course)!
COOKIES, COOKIES & COOKIES
It can be a little overwhelming to come home with a huge box full of cookies, so here are some of my tips on spreading the cookie love. First, I take all our favorite cookies, usually around 2 dozen and put them in a tin or Tupperware for our Christmas Eve and Christmas day showcase. Usually, the Cookie Swap is a few weeks before Christmas so I put those in the freezer. I then take other dozen and save for New Years. Of course, this all depends on how many cookies you received during the swap and how many people are in your family. If there are any cookies you don’t care for, don’t waste them…it’s a nice jester to give some to your neighbors, even you’re not so friendly ones (just kidding… kinda)
And that’s it! I hope this has helped you with your Cookie Swap preparations. If you have any questions, comment below and I’ll be happy to help! Thanks for reading and Happy Cookie Swapping!
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