I’ve been hosting a Christmas Cookie Exchange for over a decade. My mother-in-law introduced me to this lovely idea, as she has attended one every year since my husband was a boy. The fellowship is always sweet, and the party enables friends to share the baking workload. It is easier to make a large batch of one type of cookie than it is to make several different varieties.
This party requires a little bit of math. Each woman should be instructed to bring exactly 6 dozen of a single variety of cookie and an empty tin for taking cookies home in. I usually instruct women to bring something fancy or special for the holidays, rather than the usual chocolate chip. Count the number of participants and subtract 1, as women will NOT take their own cookies home. (Be sure to let your guests know ahead of time that they need to bake extra to save back if they want their own cookie.) Divide the number you get into 72; this will tell you how many cookies of each variety that guests can take.
For example, if you had 11 guests, you would subtract 1 and divide 72 by 10. Each woman would take 7 of each type of cookie. After everyone has gathered their cookies, there should be a remainder of 22 cookies, so each woman could go back and take two more of any variety, including their own.
Many times my friends and I have chosen to wrap all the remainders up for a woman who was unable to join us, due to sickness or a new baby.
At my cookie parties I always have a few simple games with wrapped ornaments for the winners. I also like to do an optional white elephant gift exchange. Those who choose to participate bring a $10 wrapped gift for the exchange. Numbers are placed in a hat to determine the order of gift selection. Ladies draw numbers and go in order, choosing which gift they want. The first woman chooses a gift from the pile. The second lady can choose a new gift or take the first woman’s gift, enabling the first woman to choose again. Some years we play nice and keep the gifts wrapped until everyone has chosen; other years, we unwrap as we go along and people fight over which gift they’ll take home. Either way, it’s always fun.
The evening ends with yummy desserts, like my favorite Peppermint Chocolate Pie. At some cookie exchanges, women are asked to bring an extra dozen cookies on a separate plate for a “cookie tasting.” Party guests can sample the goods before going home!