It is the countdown to Christmas!

Have you been busy planning and organising? If not, get on with it, take the time to plan a celebration. Gather up your family and friends and make sure you all have a good time.

One good place to start is to throw a cookie exchange party. A beautiful tradition that seems to have taken the back seat in the past few years. Cookie exchange gatherings are really fun and will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. A cookie exchange gathering is when you invite your friends and their children over, and ask each guest to bring with them a dozen cookies. All cookies – the ones you make and those brought by guests – will be placed on the table and each guest will bring an empty cookie basket that they will fill with their choice of the different cookies on display. Traditionally, each guest will bring cookies that they have baked at home, and will print out recipe cards, to be handed out to guests. This is awesome, as not only will each guest get to take some cookies home, but they will also learn how the cookies were made should they want to bake some themselves!!

Now there is no limit to the ideas that can be implemented in these exchange parties. You can set up different stations where one table will be dedicated to recipes: recipe cards will be placed in different containers/baskets or plates at this table. The “Recipes Table” can also include old recipe books that you would like to exchange for another. This way ask your friends to bring old recipe books and place all books on this table for each of the guests to pick the one in exchange for hers.

Another station will be dedicated to non-decorated cookies, like the chocolate chip varieties, sandwich cookies, buried cherry cookies, ginger snaps and cookie bars. While a separate table can be dedicated to decorated cookies and colourful designs. If you wish to have a theme for this years’ designs, then make sure to tell your guests to make and decorate their goodies with your chosen theme and colour schemes.

 

Of course what is a party without good food and drinks? Make sure to include a buffet of selections. You can make this food yourself or ask the guests to each bring in a plate/drink… This can include mini sandwiches, mini pizzas, pastries, tarts, quiches, salad cups/jars, it can even include crisps, roasted potato wedges… and of course the desserts. For drinks it can be anything from mulled wine to hot cocoa… it all depends on your theme and mood really.

Cookie exchange parties can be a bash for everyone, however you can have a ladies cookie decorating party instead. If you wish to catch up with some friends, you can simply throw this party where while everyone is decorating the cookies you all get to chat and catch up. Here you can ask your guests to each prepare or bring something specific, so that it takes away from strenuous prep on your behalf. one or two guests can be responsible for bringing the baked cutout cookies. Another will take care of the icing, and someone brings the tips and piping bags, while another takes care of all the decorations such as the sugar pearls, ribbons, and so on. Make sure there are baskets/containers for everyone to take cookies home and make sure to print out the different recipes for each to take home too.

These gatherings are excellent for people to meet and get to know each other, so don’t feel compelled to invite only the ones who already know each other. Delicious cookies, children entertained, catching up with friends, gathering different cookie recipes, and taking cookie varieties home for your own cookie display: wouldn’t you want to join in?

 

Cookie Packaging

While you can always buy containers, boxes, baskets or go for the traditional cookie mug to contain the cookies, I found this really fun DIY video for making cookie packages. Take a look, maybe you will find inspiration for making your own unique cookie packaging this year.

 

If you still wish to go for the mug option, then I like the way it is presented here. You don’t have to go exactly as in the video but use it for inspiration, check it out.

Cookie baskets can go a long way

I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day about Christmas gifts. She was saying that it was becoming harder every year to decide which gifts to give, especially when it comes to generic gifts like those given to children’s friends at school, work colleagues and so on… When it comes to generic gifts, I find that a cookie basket goes a long way! Giving colleagues and children’s friends baskets filled with cookies along with a festive card is a very pretty and thoughtful gift. This is one gift that is always received with much admiration. I even make some to give as party favours on Christmas Eve. Place some under the tree for those who come along with friends and haven’t been counted on the guest list. This way no one is left without a gift, and you won’t have that awkward moment for leaving someone out!

Making Cookie baskets can be a little time consuming and tiring if you have to make it all by yourself. But here is how it can be made easier. It is a tradition at my home, that first week of December is cookie baking week. I bake lots of cookies with my children, and invite their friends for cookie decoration play dates. I prepare Royal Icing, tint batches in different colours, place them all in piping bags ready for use. I place little confections and edible decorations in colourful plates, and tell them to make the most beautiful cookies they have ever seen. The activity is fun, and the children enjoy it tremendously. They can each take a few cookies home, and you will still have lots of cookies to pack into small baskets, or in the packages you make as in the videos above. After the artwork has dried, place the cookies (as many as you like) in those packages and seal/tie with a nice ribbon. Stick a little card with a festive message on each package and there you will have delicious cookie gift ready to be gifted,or placed under the tree…etc.

The festive season is all about joy and family. These are little things that we can do that are fun and help in creating that festive feel. Don’t stress and don’t forget what it is all about. The simple joys of life. The little things we do, and make together with our kids, family and friends are the very things that become joyful memories. The very stories your children will tell theirs, and the very things they will do in their homes. After all that is all I want for my children, to be able to look back and feel joy, to grow up knowing it was fun, joyful and that they have lots of warm memories of home as they go on with their lives. Don’t we all?

 

With this I conclude the Festive Season Cookie Series, with the recipes, tips and inspirations. Hope you enjoyed it .

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Happy Holidays,
Enjoy Baking x

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