For anyone who enjoys baking, the Christmas holidays are prime time for indulging. Everyone has two or three favorite cookie recipes, but few of us have time to bake as many as we would like. And forget about trying out a new recipe!
If this sounds familiar to you, a cookie swap may be the answer.
What Is a Cookie Swap?
A swap is a party where a number of friends gather before the holidays, each one bringing several batches of cookies. During the party, they systematically exchange cookies so that everyone goes home with an equal number and large assortment.
As well as cookies, these bakers also exchange recipes.
Additionally, the swap is a low-key party where friends can meet for a few hours to celebrate the holidays.
For the hostess, it's an easy event. She need only supply light refreshment and a home for the gathering.
How It Works
Decide on a date as soon as you can. Send invitations that clearly outline how the party will work. Most important is that everyone participates. Equally important is that everyone brings an equal number of cookies.
Most hostesses request that guests bring from four to eight dozen cookies. This usually represents two or three different kinds. They also ask that guests bring their own containers for carrying the cookies home.
Once everyone arrives, the cookies are assembled on a central table. Take a picture of the spread -- it is quite a sight!
For the main event, guests line up around the table with plastic bags and cookie tins and take three, four, or more cookies from each batch. The goal is to have an empty table!
During the cookie exchange, party guests might describe the cookies they baked, or tell a story connected to the recipe. Perhaps a cookie has ethnic or religious significance.
There are no actual rules! But it helps to establish guidelines for a cookie swap. Other than deciding on the number of cookies every participant should contribute, the hostess must decide on the type of party.
Many people make this a women-only event. For others, it's a family affair, where children are welcome.
Some groups alternate the party every year, with different people acting as hostess.
Some hostesses serve coffee, tea, and fruit juice, while others pour wine and serve spiked eggnog.
At some cookie swaps not a cookie is eaten. Instead, savory hors d'oeuvres or a light meal are served. The cookies are exclusively for taking home. At others, the cookies are sampled with glee.
At many parties, no store-bought cookies are permitted. On the other hand, some hostesses encourage their guests to bring cookies from a fine bakery if they have no time to bake.
While the parties operate in different ways, nearly everyone who has participated in a cookie swap agrees: These gatherings are fun, festive, and, yes, a little fattening!