Holiday baking and cookie swaps are a highlight of the season! I can’t think of anything more fun than getting friends together to bake fresh goodies, and giving them to teachers, colleagues, friends, and family. After several years of hosting an annual Holiday Baking Day & Cookie Swap, I decided to jot down 10 tips that make the day a delight for everyone. Here’s to sharing many happy cooking memories with your friends!
Invite friends who’ll enjoy getting their hands dirty, baking, cleaning, decorating, and of course sampling. Plan 3-5 hours total, typically from noon to 5 on a weekend day. Invite the right number of people so your kitchen is bustling, but not overcrowded.
Put each guest in charge of the ingredients and preparation for 1-2 of their favorite cookies or candies (with enough ingredients for 3-4 batches of each). Depending on your budget, you may want to provide the basics, like flour, sugar, leavening, vanilla and eggs. There should be plenty for everyone to share. Focus on variety, with cookies and candies that have different flavors, textures, and colors. Use Pinterest and your favorite food blogs for fresh ideas.
3) Optimize Use of Appliances
Candies usually require the stove, not the oven, so you can spread out the use of appliances by making candy and cookies. Include no-bake cookies in your line-up too to increase productivity while ovens and stoves are in use.
Prepare cut-out cookies in advance so they are ready to decorate when friends arrive. Undecorated cut-outs can be frozen and then defrosted on the day of your cookie swap.
5) Be Prepared
Print copies of recipes in advance. Put bakeware, measuring cups, bowls, mixers, and utensils out so guests can find what they need.
6) Feed the Cooks
You don’t want your friends fainting from sugar overload! Serve munchies and mimosas while you’re cooking. For non-alcoholic drinkers offer hot apple cider. Cider and cinnamon sticks add to the aroma of the kitchen while warming on the stove.
7) Maximize Space
Set up a decorating station so guests can take a break and decorate while their cookies are baking. A “packing station” is also helpful so friends can leave the party with all their goodies ready for gift giving. Be sure you have plenty of cooling racks and space to put them. Folding tables and chairs work great for this.
Have guests bring tins, bags, jars, ribbon, festive paper plates, cellophane, tissue paper, plastic wrap, and/or boxes so they can wrap up their cookies at the end of the swap – ready to gift and give.
9) Gift Exchange
At the end of the afternoon, you can enjoy the sweets of you labor while you toast your friendships, and exchange small tokens of affection. Tree ornaments are an easy and inexpensive gift that will remind friends of the fun they had!
10) Classic cookies and candies we share each year at TheBrownLounge.