It’s a universally accepted truth that Christmas time = awesome food. And the sweet tooths in the room will agree with me on this – Christmas baking is the perfect way to put yourself in the mood for the season!
Whether that means setting your kids loose with a big batch of Christmas-shaped sugar cookies and tubes of coloured icing, dusting off the old family gingerbread recipe, or painstakingly creating the picture-perfect swirl cookies of Pinterest’s dreams, most of us find ourselves elbow-deep in batter at some point in December.
1-2 batches of cookies later, we hang up our aprons for the season, Christmas baking checked off the list. But after demolishing our first couple of gingerbread men, we remember why it is that we only pull out that special recipe once in a year! It all starts to taste the same pretty quickly – and there’s still a giant biscuit tin of gingerbread men staring us down, daring us to take them on.
This is why I love an annual Christmas Cookie Swap!
For those not in the know, a Cookie Swap is an event where everyone brings a couple of batches of Christmas cookies, the cookies are all put out on the table, and people make up a big selection of baked goods to bring back home with them. The concept is pretty genius – everyone’s a winner! (Unless your friends are terrible bakers of course…)
I have hosted a few Cookie Swaps over the years, and have got it down to a fine art. If you haven’t attended one before, be the first in your group to host one – I can guarantee it will quickly become an annual tradition that your friends ask you to organise for years to come.
1. Invite People Well in Advance
I don’t need to tell you that December is a crazy time of year – so the sooner you send out invitations/set up the event on Facebook, the better!
2. Collect RSVPs and pass them on
Make sure everyone knows how many people are attending, as this may affect how many batches they plan to bake.
3. Send a friendly reminder
As the event draws nearer, remind people that it’s on the horizon. The friend who remembers the night before is going to be the friend who doesn’t end up coming, because she’s run out of time to bake anything. (Side note: it’s OK for a couple of people to show up empty-handed – in my experience you will never be short of cookies at a swap!)
4. Provide containers
Grab a supply of boxes, tins, takeout containers – whatever works – so that your friends can easily transport their treats home.
5. Keep the decorations minimal
Don’t cover your table with elaborate centrepieces – it will soon be completely packed with cookies! Instead, enhance the festivities with some Christmas tunes and a seasonal scented candle or stovetop potpourri.
6. Offer some savoury treats
A cheese board, antipasto platter or even finger sandwiches will work well to help counteract the inevitable sugar comas that will ensue as your guests sample the wares!
7. Consider allergies
If any of your guests have a nut allergy, ensure everyone knows to avoid baking with nuts. For guests who are gluten intolerant, take it upon yourself as host to make a couple of small batches of gluten-free treats so that they are able to participate in the fun of the swap too.
8. Stock up on tea & coffee
There’s something classic about the combination of a sweet treat and a hot beverage – even in the thick of our hot Aussie Summers! Keep the kettle boiled and make sure you’ve got plenty of coffee and tea on hand – consider buying a couple of exotic teas for a nice touch.
9. Prepare yourself for the sugar hit
As the host, be prepared for the onslaught of those ‘extra’ cookies that are left behind after the swap is over – if you play your cards right, they’ll keep you going all the way through to Christmas!
When it comes to how your Christmas Cookie Swap runs, the sky is the limit! You could host a ladies-only evening affair after the kids have gone to bed, or do a big family-style afternoon tea event complete with kid-crafted cookies. However you choose to host it, your Cookie Swap will be a fabulous opportunity to have a good catch-up with your friends before the chaos of the season really hits – so have fun!