Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hosting a Successful Christmas Cookie Exchange

WHAT IS A COOKIE EXCHANGE?
Many would agree that baking is an essential part of Christmas preparations, but it can be time-consuming and expensive to create the variety of goodies needed for attractive cookie trays for your celebrations. A cookie exchange can be an efficient solution. Instead of baking 12 dozen different cookies, I can bake 12 dozen of my favorites and get 11 friends to do the same. We simply get together for an exchange and each person goes home with 1 dozen each of 12 different kinds of cookie.

DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE:

Do you want your event to have a social dimension or is it primarily functional? (i.e. get the cookies and go home)
CHOOSE YOUR PARTICIPANTS:
I participate in an exchange advertised through my home school co-op. An email goes out to about 80 families and there are typically 10-20 who are interested. These are divided into 1 or 2 groups depending on the number. (Since we've agreed, we neither want nor need 20 dozen cookies ;-) It sounds a little anti-social, but we really do just trade cookies and go. There is lots of social time with this group at other events.
I know someone else who uses her annual cookie exchange as an excuse to get together with old college friends. It's the same invitation list every year and they have a high participation rate.
Co-workers, neighbors, and members of your parish could all be good focus groups for a successful cookie exchange.
It's very common to invite participants to bring a few extra goodies to serve with some tea or coffee during the exchange.
COMMUNICATIONS:
  1. WHEN: Include date and time. If your exchange has a more functional character, be sure to stress that everyone MUST be on time. You really can't complete your trading until everyone is there. Social gatherings can be a little more relaxed in this regard.
  2. WHERE: Make it a central location with space to spread out a little.
  3. R.S.V.P.: This essential step will allow the organizer to determine how many cookies each person bakes.
  4. DEFINE WHAT YOU WANT PEOPLE TO BRING: Is fudge okay? Are chocolate chip cookies okay? Are bars okay? (For those of you who are not mid-westerners, bars are basically cookie-like things baked in a cake pan and cut into serving sized pieces.) My exchange specifies "something a little different than the usual 'brown & round'."
  5. REPLY TO YOUR PARTICIPANTS with the final number they should bring and remind them of the details.
A FEW OTHER THINGS TO COMMUNICATE:
  1. Choose a cookie, bar, or candy that stores well. Festive, colorful Christmas goodies are appreciated.
  2. Don't stress about duplication-make what you love! It's fun to see all the creativity!
  3. Packaging: please put in re-sealable plastic bags, disposable plastic containers or on a sturdy disposable plate wrapped with foil/plastic wrap.
  4. Add a label to identify the goodies & include the recipe, if you'd like. You could also bring a few extras for sampling.
  5. Bring a large basket/box to carry in and out your goodies.

3 comments:

Molly Koop said...

I've been hosting an exchange for the past several years and I think I'm committed for life now. Several of my friends plan their entire season around this event. And we always enjoy each other's company immensely. We have a few doozies and baking disasters, but in the end, we always get a ton of yummy treats!

Margaret Mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margaret Mary said...

Half the work is organizing the event. It would be great have a consistent group. How many people are involved?