my first cookie exchange was a day I will never forget. My husband took the day off work to take the kids to school and my yhoiunger one to pre-school. My cousin was coming from High Point and was going to set out her Mary Kay items if people wanted to do some early christmas shopping.
I was upstairs and I put the Hot Wassail on the stove to warm while Oi was finishing getting ready. My cousin comes in and yells for me to come downstairs fast. My hot wassail had overflowed all over the stove top, down into my cabinets. I had wassail everywhere. It happened 10 minutes before people were to come to my swap. I was mopping and cleaning so uch wassail it was unbeleivable. It had gotten under my pots and pans and they were sticking to the cabinets. When they came up, part of the cabinet came with them. It was a mess. I finished cleaning it just in time but you could feel how stick it was by walking through my kitchen.
After we did our exchange and everyone was talking and eating. My mother in law was in another room talking to her family and the others were in another. I was at the sink washing up some dishes and stuff and then my best friend came in and said "FIRE! FIRE!" My mother in-laws basket of cookies had caught on fire when a candle hit the napkin. We put it in the water asap and with smoke in the kitchen my mother in law looking from the other room asked is something on fire? I said yes, your basket of cookies. We had that under control and then everyone left. That was the most exciting cookie swap I had ever been to!!!
To this day we all talk about it. I do Christmas Trivia at my swaps and will put questions about me(the host) and I will refer to the first swap.
I have been doing this for 4 years now. My 4rth one will be Decembe 17, 2006 on a Sunday. Everyone is looking forward to it!
I had my first Cookie Exchange yesterday (Dec. 2/06), and it was wonderful! I invited 12 people and 6 were able to attend. Several of those who could not come this year asked to be invited next year. I think it will be quite the gathering next year! The ladies did a great job with their cookies. We had Lavender Shortbread, Ginger Spice, White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal, Fruitcake Slice & Bakes, Gingerbread Biscotti, Stained Glass and Chocolate Chippers. We played the candy cane necklace game, and prized were awarded for most festive attire, most delicious cookie, and most festive cookie. The only thing that didn't go as planned was the food! I made WAY to much, and it hardly got touched! Oh well...people will know for next year!
Just had my 3rd Annual Cookie Exchange! It was fantastic! I had a total of 19 guests. We had cookies galore!! I served lunch to my guests (soup, french bread, drinks, etc). I had prizes for the Tastiest and Prettiest Cookie and the Prettiest Xmas Tray (this tray is exchanged among the guests). Everything went 'almost perfect'. I still have a couple of guests that arrive late but other than that, we all have a wonderful time eating, chit-chatting, and planning the next event.
Best wishes to all for a wonderful holiday season!
I hosted my 2nd Annual Cookie Exchane today and it was even more fantastic than the first. I had 20 people attend and 3 people who were unable to be here dropped of their cookies.
We love our games, and this year I created a short story and left two different people read it and then they had to go tell it to someone else and so on. It was a great way to open the day as people were arriving and saying hello, also gave me a few extra minutes to get those last minute items from the oven before eating. When the food was ready, before having eveyone go to the kitchen I asked someone to tell me the story, it was funny how the story changed from one person to the next. :-) After we enjoyed a menu of Hot Broc Cheese Dip, Hawiian Sweet Bread, BBQ Beef, quich, sasuage in dough, mexian cheese dip with nacos, crackers and dips, chocolate fondu, cookies (not from the exchange) wine, strawberry daquaris (really big hit) coffee and soda.
We played Christmas Trivia, Left Right game (I didn't think I would like this game; but, it really turned out to fun and funny) Who knows how to make Nestle Choc Chip Cookies, Count the Bowes ( i tie bowes all around my house and give people 2 minutes to go around and try to add them up) and then what everyone looks forward to Dirty Santa.
Parting gifts to everyone; Christmas Eve tea bags, choclate spoons, Chrimstas Music CD, and a copy of all the games with answers)
This years exchange was so much better than last year. We a much better mix of cookies and even the Dirty santa gifts were so much nicer.
Last year, I don't think people really knew what to expect and this year eveyone was really looking forward to it, I even had someone ask if I knew the date for next years.
I started my notes for 2007 :-)
Robin, thank you so much for this site... I am glad I gave it a try last year, I look forward to the day that my exchange is big enough that I have to look at renting a large party area.
Oh the story I had everyone tell each other: Dixon and Prantzer were flying and saw Santa, Frosty and Mr Jingles. santa was holding the North STar in his right hand and coal in his left hand. Dixon said " Who is getting the coal?" Prantzer said "Mr. Jingles is getting the North Star."
No one was even close in repeating this story back to me, but the stories that were told me were FUNNY.. My 9 year old daughter actually created it. :-)
I had my first exchange yesterday. I invited 30, 10 showed up and one brought her cookies early to exchange. None of us really knew what to expect. We really had a good time. I served an appatizer buffet with sweet and sour meatbals, smokies, almond cheeseball, candied nuts, chocolate fountain, assorted little wrapped candies, tea, coffee and champagne punch. I typed up each persons recipes into a little book and made a mug with snowman soup for each to take home.
We played the christmas song trivia, left right and each person was given a bell to wear when they came in. If anyone was cought saying the word cookie, they had to give up their bell. At the end of the day, my daughter (11) had the most bells. She was sweet enough to give the prize to the next person. She got the box of assorted cookie cutters.
Everyone had a fun time. And, they all said they want to come back next year.
One thing that I will change for next year is that I said it would last for 3 hours, way too long, 2 hours is plenty. Also, even tho I said no duplicate cookies, I ended up with 3 batches of sandies. Everyone had called them something different and even the directions and ingredients were different, but they all looked the same.
Post by jennifers399 on Dec 11, 2006 11:07:56 GMT -5
Unfortunately, my exchange did not go as planned. I had many people respond that they would be attending, but not exchanging. Then, I had about 6 people not show up and not call. Then, to make matters worse, only 2 people brought 6 dozen cookies. One guest brought her botched batch, and presented it as the "cookies that suck." One guest argued with me about wanting to bring chocolate chip cookies, decided not to but brought one dozen grocery store sugar cookies! The nerve!
My invitation was very specific--we ended up with three versions of 7-layer dream bars! Only 7 people brought treats, and only two were actually cookies!
UGH! I am having one next weekend with my mother's group but I've already had people tell me they are bringing sugar cookies! I DON'T WANT SUGAR COOKIES! I don't care HOW they are decorated, they are still sugar cookies!
I don't know if I am going to do this again. It's been very discouraging this year. People don't follow the rules, they are losing interests and it's just so much work with nothing but gross cookies in my jar!
Hi Jennifer, Wow. I am really sorry that you're having a hard time getting a cookie exchange going. I applaud you for posting it on the board. I usually get the "horror stories" by private email. It's good for others in similar situations to see that they are not alone. Trust me, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
It's always about the hostesses expectations and there's nothing wrong with that! I aim high and my friends know that. Because in the end, when people go home with high quality baked goods, they are likely to come again next year and make a better effort themselves. If they go home with two Oreos stuck together by peanut butter with sprinkles on top, chances are, future years will have fewer attendees. In other words, when people get that annual invitation, they won't be excited, because they know they won't be getting anything special. "Why bother"?
In closing Jennifer, you're going to become this boards "pet project." I'm shouting to all the hostesses who have successful cookie swaps!
Please give Jennifer your best ideas for high attendance, cute invitations with rules that are easy to follow but have the requirements to yield high quality cookies.
Here's a few from me as a starter.... State in the invitation that you will be giving out prizes for: Best creativity in overall presentation, a prize for most unique cookies, or colorful cookies... things to inspire more than simple sugar cookies. There's a lot of possibilities.
I particularly enjoyed the year everyone brought a treasured family recipe cookie. We got to try cookies we'd never had before. Plus, it's a familiar recipe that attendees know, thereby eliminating their stress to come up with a new cookie recipe.
From the attendees point of view (in my listening to their comments before the party) they stress out about what to bring. They know there are going to be some good cookies and they don't want to disappoint. Also, I'm sure there is a stress involved (I'm guessing, no one has directly said) in knowing their cookie photos and recipes are going to be up on my web site and thousands of people are going to see what they brought.
I'll try to think of more later. I had my party yesterday afternoon. It was wonderful, but I am exhausted today! Great pictures, everyone went all out. Can't wait to share after I recover. I also did what I always do, collapse on the sofa and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" with my family by a roaring fire and eat party leftovers for dinner. I usually don't eat much at my party, too busy being hostess.
Post by jennifers399 on Dec 12, 2006 12:12:35 GMT -5
Thank you so much! This was my FOURTH exchange, and I have not changed a thing in that four years! I use your rules, but change them to add butter as a mandatory ingredient!
My first exchange was great! People were super creative, very excited and were so great about everything. The second one was fun, too! Last year was a little slower, but the cookies were good. This year was just awful! I am throwing away most of the stuff people brought--my kids won't even eat the left-overs! I just couldn't believe it when my friend walked in with 1-dozen grocery store sugar cookies. My invitation was very specific and we talked about this, too! She walked away with tons of cookies but contributed 12!
Oh well. I have one more exchange this coming weekend. One woman is insisting on bringing sugar cookies. I've explained that sugar cookies, fill-in-the-chip cookies, and peanut butter cookies are NOT ALLOWED, but she thinks her cookies are special. Ugh!
Post by NicksMommy on Dec 12, 2006 15:01:21 GMT -5
I held my 3rd exchange this year(Dec.12,2006.)This year on the request of my 7 yr. old son I made it "family" style. There were 12 adults and 11 kids who came. My buffet included:
Rigatoni and meatballs in sauce
Hot pepper Queso dip with tortillas
Veggie platter with dip
And a platter of cheese, pepperoni,crackers and dip
Hot spiced cider along with coffee,soda,juice,etc...
After about an hour of chatting, we played the left/right game with the adults using various ornaments and kitchen items I had bought on sale at various stores throughout the year. I also had a left/right game for the kids to play using Christmas ornaments I bought earlier in the year as well. I then held a raffle that I found on this website using points (1 point for holiday attire, 2 points for putting cookies on a holiday platter,etc.)I also gave gifts for Most Creative Cookies-and ended up giving out 2 of those because the ladies did such a great job this year! I also gave out gifts for Most Creative Displays-and had 3 winners for that! I couldn't just give out one--they all were so pretty.I let the winners pick from a basket of gifts I had bought just for the party.
After the food and games, we started the swap.I asked everyone to bring 7 dozen cookies. I also had containers for everyone to take their cookies home in. I have to say this was the best exchange yet--the cookies in the past have been great,don't get me wrong--but this year they were awesome!! Everyone went all out!! What a wonderful day of friendship and sharing!! I can't wait for next year!!
Even though there were 11 kids in my small house--they were all on their best behavior. The only thing I wish I could have fixed, was my new floor wasn't installed in my dining room before the party--but to be honest it was all friends and family so i'm sure it bothered me more than it did them. LOL
I know last year I was very discouraged after my swap--one lady took 3 dozen more than she was supposed to--and another didn't even read the rules and brought some really nasty cookies. Unfortunately because they are close to the family I had no choice but to invite them again this year. Once again--one lady(same lady) brought 3 dozen and took 7 and the other one did exactly what the invitation asked for. I decided after last year's fiasco that because I didn't start having an exchange just to get good cookies--I was doing it because I wanted to have time with friends and family and enjoy the spirit of the hoildays.....that this year it didn't matter what happened I was going to be happy and enjoy it! And you know what? I did--oh, things are never perfect-some things could have been better--but everyone-including me enjoyed ourselves and had a great day!!Please don't get discouraged--some years will be better than others--and you can always change your invitation list next year-LOL. My niece even jokingly said what a pain it was to make the cookies, and I said ok then, I won't invite you next year--but you know what? I think she had the best time of all!! After all, the cookies are nice to have--but it's the friends and family and the smiles on their faces that make it all worthwhile. I had 5 new timers this year and each one did an outstanding job! One brought nutter butter cookies dressed up to look like Santa Claus--normally I would have not let them bring those--but after she told me she spent 12 hours working on them to get them just right--I feel she more than made up for the fact they weren't "homemade". As far as i'm concerned they were. LOL Sorry for the long post--here's hoping everyone has Happy Holidays!! Merry Christmas!!
Last Edit: Dec 12, 2006 15:03:02 GMT -5 by NicksMommy
For those of you who had problems with people taking more cookies than they brought, here's what worked for me. Instead of the "go-round-the-table-and-pick-your-cookies" exchange, I had each guest bring 1 dozen cookies for every other guest. When everyone had called to confirm their attendance, I printed off a little letter asking them to bring 6 dozen cookies, and to put each dozen in a bag, ziploc, or paper plate covered with saran wrap. At the party, I had 6 bakery cake boxes set out, labeled with each guest's name. When guests arrived, I asked them to place a cookie packet in each guest's box (except their own!). It worked perfectly!
Also, my invitation was very specific about what was expected, but in a friendly way!
Jennifer don't give up on your cookie exchanges they will get better over time. Eventually you will be inviting and getting the same ladies back each year that truly know what a real cookie exchange is all about and it will be great.
The last few years I have not had one because now my friends want to host and there just isn't enough days in the month.
I went to one on Tuesday and it was fun. My friends house was so festive and she even had a male friend serve as bartender (dressed in black and white and even the black bow tie). The drink of the evening (or drinks I should say) were peppermint and chocolate martinis.
The only problem was that there were only two appetizers - cheese and crackers and a veggie tray that was sitting in the kitchen near the bar area. Some of the ladies came straight from work so drinking and not eating - not good.
The dinning room table was beautifully decorated and we all brought extra cookies to sample which was nice but again I would have put out more real food for the guests.
Everyone brought 4 dozen cookies (wrapped in half dozen individual bags). The bags were very decorative but some you could not tell what the cookies were inside. I was very disappointed with the quality of the cookies brought - some store bought, one that was basically a graham cracker covered with a maple, pecan frosting, fudge and haystacks. A few of the ladies really went all out but again I was a little disappointed.
The hostess handed everyone a lovely holiday bag to put our cookies in which was nice. But about 30 minutes into the party I noticed that some of the ladies were already going around the table picking out their 8 bags of cookies to take home. I was shocked. The hostess said "oh that's fine actually it's better to get to the table first before the best ones are gone."
I really didn't mind since I usually do so much baking myself at Christmas so I just picked out 8 bags/containers and went on with the party.
There was a gift exchange which was fun and then we all left one by one. I knew only about 6 or 7 of the ladies the others (21 in all) were from her neighborhood. I love getting to know new people but for some reason it seemed hard at this party because all the "neighborhood" ladies really hung together and didn't see to want to interact.
My friend put a lot of work into her party and I appreciated being invited but I think next year I hope to do my own.
I like a smaller crowd. I like to set out lots of food and I am specific about my invitation (what type of cookie) and the time we collect our cookies (the end of the party when everyone can participate together).
Thanks for posting everyone. It's nice to read about everyone's exchanges. Robin I can't wait to see the pictures for 2006.
Hi y'all!! My best sister friend, Rosan and I hosted our 3rd annual cookie exchange this year. I'll post picture later. I never did post last years but the first year (2004) is under Lori and Rosan.
We had 12 show-up this year. We've had such a mix of friends and family come throughout the last three years. We've only had about 3 "regulars". That's okay though as we seem to be spreading the joy and cheer!!
We had ours this year on a Sunday afternoon from 3 - 5 pm. I was not working outside the home when we started this 3 years ago but am now working and am more respectful of the working woman! And since it was my turn to host again (we take turns) I needed the weekend to ready my house!
We started with a display of wonderful foods to eat. A meat tray, artichoke dip, crackers, a chocolate truffle pudding , magic cookie bars and a veggie tray. My sister served a wine punch. I'm not a drinker so I served a simple punch of 7up and fruit juice.
After visiting and eating, we did something different this year. I added a simple craft to the mix. It was a snowman head ornament made from warm and natural batting. I had all the supplies readied and the main sewing done. It took all the ladies about 10 -15 minutes. They loved it as it was something they had made and could take home.
After the craft we exchanged ornaments using the right left game that are in the games suggestions here. We then presented three awards for best presentations and then topped it off with the dice game.
We then exchanged our cookies and went home!! We finished right on time at 5 pm!! Many of the attendees work and so this was a perfect time for them.
The only thing we would do differently next year is we are going to require each lady to bag approximately 6 cookies in individual bags. Then we will have them bring 12 bags each or more depending on how many we are expecting. We wanted to make exchanging faster and easier. We can't wait until next years exchange.
This is for Jennifer who had such an awful experience. I've had a few not so good experiences too. But don't give up. The first year my sis and I did this, several women were "mad" because they said there were too many rules. Fine. We didn't invite them the next year. Several women made perfectly crappy cookies. One made a potato chip cookies. They were horrid little burnt rocks. Even the dog wouldn't touch them! So as bad as it sounds , we didn't invite these woman again. That's a tip. Do not invite people you know can't cook. It sounds mean but often women who can't bake are relived when you don't ask them to perform. Also, on the invitation we send out, we state that if they do not respond by a certain date, we will assume they are not coming. Second, we state clearly in the invite that they will not hurt our feelings if they decide not to come. Cookie exchanges are not for everyone. Last year a lady came who bought store cookies and sprinkled chocolate on them. Sorry, but she broke the rules and did not get invited this year. I go to lots and lots of work as do others baking my cookies. It's not fair when someone shows with storebought and then expects to get homemade. If you don't want sugar cookies, then specify what you do want. Maybe the suggestion for bringing a treasure cookie recipe would help. good luck Jennifer and don't give up!!!
Yesterday was my 4th cookie exchange, and it was simply wonderful. There were 10 of us 8 were bakers. The food was fabulous, cookies came in super packages and the warmth of friendship was a blessing.
There were 5 girls who were first timers and they will surely be back next year. As far as rules, mine are pretty simply in that the cookies must be homemade, and to dress festivally. The four years have brought great cookies, except for one year one girl brought cookies that after a few phones calls from some of the other girls, we agreed that her cookies were RANCID, and I will not invite her again.
So, I have started planning for next year, you have to while things are still fresh in your mind.
I will post pictures in a few days.
The exchange is such a heart-lifting experience, and I hope I can keep doing it for years to come.
Saturday was my first exchange and I have mixed feelings about it--mostly VERY positive!
Response: I invited 22 women. Clearly asked for RSVP providing THREE different phone numbers (next year will spell out "call me if you are coming or not" etc--I'm not sure people understand RSVP!) and got a total of 11 responses. All 5 that stated they would come did so, so that was a blessing. One of the Noes called at 9am and the party was at 10! She's a Chinese national, so I will give her a bye, but geez.
Baking quality: clearly my mom and I are the best bakers! One of the worst was some kind of graham cracker thingy that my BOSS made. When I started my planning, I thought Robin was such a hard-@** about the types of cookies, but I can really see why now. We had:
oatmeal scotchies and snickerdoodles (mine) russian tea cakes and peanut blossoms (Mom's) graham cracker things a bad rendition of the legendary (and ordinarily fantastic!) Mrs Field's cookie oatmeal raisin an iced sour cream cake thingy
Its nice to have a variety and, as another poster stated, it's not ALL about the quality of the baked goods but about spending time with friends and family, so I suppose the result wasn't so bad. Plus I got a great ego boost because mine were the best (but then, everyone thinks that, right??)
We played the L/R game. I had initially planned to make salt dough ornaments to pass and paint them all differently so that one could be designated (in a sealed envelope in advance) as the winner...have the guests pick up their ornament in a bag (with name tag, ballot, pen, etc) upon arrival. BUT since the advance notice was so poor I had zero idea of how many to make, so I nixed it and just sent the prize itself around. Everyone really enjoyed this game.
Played xmas trivia and a game that Dell usually calls Spell-a-Thon (how many 4+ letter words can you make from "Merry Christmas" in 5 minutes--no plurals or proper nouns) and I had both of them printed up really cute in advance.
I served: artichoke dip w/tortilla chips and wheat thins spinach dip w/crudites pumpkin roll coffee (caf and decaf) coke and diet coke eggnog (which NO ONE touched!)
Let's see...we played trivia then ate then L/R then spell-a-thon then we did the exhange (taking 2 at a time) and that was just right about 2 hrs. It really all went very nicely and everyone seemed to have a nice time (we'll find out next year when they get their invitations, wont' we??)
I would have liked 2-3 more participants but it really wasn't too small as it was. Things that I will modify for next year:
get invites out 2 wks earlier date party 1 wk earlier be more explicit in response instructions find better amusements for my 2 dogs (I had a friend come walk them for the first hour but one of them sat at the back door and whined and barked for the last hour) I really like Jennifer's "count the bows" game idea, may try that one next year, thanks!
And thanks to everyone on this board and Robin for the site, there are so many great ideas here!!
I had my first Cookie Exchange in many, many years a couple of weeks ago. Out of 16 invited, only 4 showed up (one being my mother). Is that normal? Of course, I have to give credit to the 4 who said they couldn't come - at least they RSVPd. What do you do about favor bags when you don't have an exact number coming? I sent out the invite by email - I think next year I will send them out by mail. Anyone have any pointers?
I think for someone not to RSVP to a cookie exchange is just wrong! I would not invite them back unless they had a really good reason. I think unless you have hosted one before you just don't get how much work and planning goes into a swap.
Keep the favors simple and things you can use again. One year I gave out cookie cutters and had purchased extra. I used them to decorate gifts and bags the next year. Another year I gave out honey do lists (the ones with magnets for the fridge). They were cute gingerbread ones. The left overs I included in gift bags for friends and some I kept and used myself. Always better to have extra just in case.
If you do a swap every year you could keep all the extras and one year put them in a huge basket and let people pick their own favors as they leave.
WOW is All I can Say! My first exchange was Tues Dec 19th I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR! Thanks to this awesome website and everyones ideas my first exchange was a HIT! I used evite which worked very well for me. I invited 15 and 9 were very excited about attending and did. We started with cocktails at 5pm and I served dinner at 6 which was a soup/sandwich buffet. three different soups, mini turkey & ham sandwiches, several types of crackers. For dessert I had everyone bring one dozen chocolate chip cookies, since they weren't allowed for the exchange but they are a favorite and sooo many varieties i gave everyone a bag and they took home a dozen chocolate chip, not one of them was like the other. I gave everyone a holiday kitchen towel and made recipe books with the cookie recipes in attendance. I had prizes for several games, holiday movie trivia, right left game, best dressed (christmas spirit) best packaging ( as I had everyone prepackage their dozens ) This was really spectacular and everyone went home with nice little containers etc with their cookies. guess the number of M&M's in the jar, Using old christmas cards we guessed Christmas Carols that went with the cards. Everyone told a story about their cookies and the assortment was spectacular. Snow bites, Gooey Butter Cookies, Potato Chip cookies, Red Velvet Cookies, Chocolate Truffles, Italian Holiday Cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Anzac Cookies, Pecan Crescents, Stain Glass Cookies Will definitely do this again next year!