Second Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange

Last week I hosted my second annual Christmas Cookie Exchange! Every year while I was growing up, my mom would go to one of our neighbor's houses for a holiday cookie swap and she would come home with a big box of cookies of all different types, decorated in so many different ways. As someone who loves to bake, and loves dessert, I looked forward to this party every year-- and I wasn't even the one going.

So last year, I decided to host my own for the first time. It was just myself and I think five girlfriends, and it was a really nice sort of test run. We didn't take ourselves too seriously, and the term "cookie" was used lightly (one woman showed up with banana bread... looking at you Melanie). To be fair, though, everything was delicious!

This year, I decided to step up my game a little bit. I had a slightly larger guest list (12 women were invited, 7 could come) and added a little friendly competition! Here's how it worked... Each guest was asked to bake two dozen of their treats to share, and send me their recipes the day before so I could compile them all into little take-home booklets. I hosted the party on a Thursday night after work and served apps and wine! Les even helped me make a red winter sangria to serve.

When everyone arrived, they placed their cookies on our buffet table behind a number. We had a great night eating, laughing, catching up... enjoying libations... and then toward the end of the night, we all got up and sampled little pieces of everyone's cookies. Then, each person got to cast their vote for the most beautifully decorated, and the most delicious. I took myself out of the running 1) because as the hostess I bought the prizes and 2) because I had no chance. As cute as the reindeer faces on my cookies were, they just didn't have a ton of flavor! They were supposed to be a classic sugar cookie, but I don't think they were sweet enough. And this is after I scrapped the first batch for accidentally only using half the amount of butter that was called for.

What's funny, though, is that I think almost everyone else had a disclaimer about how their bake went, but they were truly all spectacular. My sweet older sister almost unanimously took home the prize for the most beautiful (hello hot chocolate cookies dipped in white and dark chocolate and sprinkled with candy canes!!) and my boss and bridesmaid Sarah won for best tasting with her peanut butter cup cookies! Each of our winners took home a festive bottle of Prosecco to enjoy during the holidays.

Our trusty voting cups!

Don't worry, though-- the other girls didn't go home empty handed! I bought cookie boxes for everyone to fill with each other's treats to bring home. I'm hoping that their boyfriends, roommates, or family were just as excited as I used to be when my mom came home with all sorts of cookies.

That's a wrap on this year's exchange. I'm planning to go even bigger and better next year, so let me know if you want in! Bakers of all abilities are welcome. :)


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