I don’t suppose it has escaped your notice that there is a lot going on at this time of year! We always have tons going on in the last few weeks before Christmas-2 school parties for the kids, a work party for Yankee Bill, concerts for each of the kids, church pageant rehearsal and pageant, neighborhood party. . . the list goes on and on. It’s almost too much.
I still wanted to have a get together with a few of my friends, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune doing it (after all, there are presents to be bought) and I didn’t want to get all stressed out. So I decided to host my first, hopefully annual, cookie swap.
Now you can do really neat things with a cookie swap. The basic premise is everyone bakes a whole bunch of one type of cookie, then you all exchange cookies & go home with a variety!
My friend Denise over at Wholesome Mommy put together a lovely cookie swap with a pretty winter wonderland theme. She had food, flower arrangements, prizes for different cookie categories (most original, prettiest etc) and even a wrapping station with different decorated containers for taking the cookies home. She is such a great hostess!
I decided to go a slightly different, more casual route.
I live in the country (well, in a small town in the middle of country) and things are very informal here. I just wanted an excuse to get together with friends. The idea of the cookie swap was to LESSEN all our work around the holiday, not to stress me out with planning. Hence the “low stress” cookies swap!
I invited 5 of my friends over to the house both by Facebook messaging and good old telephone. I would have loved cute invitations, but then I would have had to either deliver them or mail them-and that was more stress, not less. I just told everyone to bring 6 dozen cookies to my house and come prepared to hang out, chat and swap cookies.
First, of course, I went shopping at Walmart to gather all my supplies then baked 6 dozen of my no chill gingerbread cookies. I made four batches and almost ran out of molasses-which was a first. Instead of my typical icing I made some royal icing and did a quick “snowflake” design on them all. (note: you can buy “meringue powder” with the cake decorating stuff at Walmart. It’s dried pasteurized egg whites, so you don’t have to worry about having raw eggs in your icing)
Please, ignore my girl beer in the photo 😉
The house was already all decorated up for Christmas, so I didn’t have to do any decorating. I did run around and straighten up-to include (*gasp*) vacuuming & sweeping. However the mop stayed in the corner-I had intended to mop but there just wasn’t enough time.
I spent a few minutes clearing the ever present “stuff” off the dining room table and laying out a pretty Christmas tablecloth and lighting some big candles in the center of my Advent wreath.
I got creative and decided to write the beverage choices on one of my plates with dry erase pen. I was just so impressed with myself for this idea!
Then I moved a bunch of chairs into the living room so we’d all have a place to sit, pulled out my pretty dishes and a gold tray I purchased last year after Christmas on discount at Walmart, turned up the heat, turned the “Sounds of the Season” station on the TV on and called it good.
Folks started showing up at 10 (that’s a.m.) with lots of delicious cookies.
There was a good variety of cookies. My gingerbread, two different kinds of thumbprints (apple & raspberry), chocolate chip, chocolate no bake, and even linzer cookies!
We all sat down in the living room to drink some coffee and chat. This was sort of a “mid morning coffee break” party, so I didn’t really plan a bunch of food. Instead I had a few of my “extra” gingerbread cookies on a plate, along with some little key lime cookies I had gotten from the Walmart World Table brand. I purchased a box of the “Holiday” themed Green Mountain coffees for my Keurig at Walmart, so I was able to offer everyone their choice of coffee or tea types.
Then we sat around, talked, drank coffee, talked, held my girlfriend’s 3 month old, talked, ate a few cookies, talked. . .well you get the idea.
Three hours later. . . we realized it was almost time for the kids to start arriving home from school and maybe we better actually divvy out the cookies!
Again, to keep it low stress I just threw a box of gallon sized zipper baggies on the table and we all dove in dividing them up. As we divided them we put them in plastic Walmart bags to take home (I swear, those things reproduce in my basement).
When the trays were empty and the bags were full, folks started gearing back up in boots, coats and gloves to head off.
Everyone had a good time, my house only took a few minutes to straighten up, I didn’t wind up totally stressed and I have 6 dozen different cookies to freeze for Christmas morning!
I’d say that was a success!
See, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great holiday party!
Disclosure: This post is part of a campaign I am participating in with the Walmart Moms. Walmart has provided me with compensation and product for this post. My participation is voluntary and opinions, as always are my own.
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I found these really cute cookie trays on EcoFreek! Plus everything is free or swappable for items you already have.