I once attended a truly overwhelming cookie exchange party. After laboring for several days over the required 12 dozen cookies and packing them in the requisite zip-lock plastic bags (“for easy swapping!” the invitation said) I arrived and discovered that the seasoned exchangers had already ransacked the cookie table. After several of them swooped in on my ginger thins, I surveyed the leavings: a dozen well-fingered baggies of animal crackers topped with canned frosting.
So you can understand my trepidation when several girlfriends invited me to join their annual fancy Christmas cookie exchange a few years ago. But these smart women have this holiday ritual figured out, and their execution is so simple and brilliant I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s the gist: we each bake five dozen of our best cookies and package them prettily. (I baked coconut macaroons and drizzled some with melted chocolate.)
Next—and this is an extremely important element of a simple cookie exchange—we meet at a great restaurant. We drink Mimosas, we catch up, we laugh, and we present each other with our cookies. Later we each return home with a stunning selection of five dozen fancy, delicious cookies like these:
Here’s what I love about this newfangled cookie exchange:
- Reasonable quantities. Making a single batch of 5 dozen cookies is doable, even with a busy schedule. And 5 dozen cookies limits the amount of temptation at home, too (even though I’ve already eaten 15 cookies since yesterday).
- Off-site location. Meeting at a restaurant means no one has to clean the house.
- Planning ahead. The girls get the date on the calendar at least two months in advance so everyone can be there.
- Festive annual event. It’s important to make time for friends, and this gathering insures that we all get to see each other during the busy holiday season.
- Champagne. Need I say more?
I’d love to hear about your updated traditions, and I hope you’re finding simple, joyful moments during this busy holiday season.
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