As I thought about this though I realized something, not everyone might know what a "cookie exchange" is or how it's organized or plays out. As with any fun, festive, and traditional activity - one cookie exchange might be very different than another yet the ultimate and most important similarity...you acquire an assortment of holiday cookies to share with friends and family.
Basically, you and a group of your friends, co-workers, neighbors, church family, club, or who ever decide you want to have an assortment of cookies when you entertain without the work of making ten different types of cookies. By doing an exchange like this, you bake only one type of cookies but after the "party", you have a platter of cookies any bakery would pay for.
Who do I invite?
Anyone you enjoy spending time with and you wouldn't mind spending time with during the Christmas season in a relaxed, fun, and super-delicious manner.
How many cookies do I have to make?
This depends on how many people choose to participate in the cookie exchange. If 6 people sign up, then you make 6 dozen. If 12 people sign up, you made 12 dozen.
How do I make sure there aren't duplicates of cookie types?
You create a sign up sheet. When someone agrees to join the cookie exchange (aka PARTY), you ask, "What type of cookie are you going to bring?" and then write them down for that cookie. When the next person joins, you let them know what is already on the list and they pick something different.
There are many ways to do this. It's usually unique to the person bringing the cookies and the type of cookie they are sharing. I've placed a dozen on a paper plate, put the plate in a zip lock baggie, sealed it, and placed a Christmas bow on top in the past. I've also bought the decorative containers and used those. It all depends, there is no right or wrong way to separate and wrap your cookies for the exchange - as long as you have a dozen for each person sorted and sealed in a way the other people can bring them home without losing them in your driveway on the way out the door.
I'm confused - you said one dozen cookies for each person but I don't need a dozen of my own - where does the extra dozen go?
This is probably the greatest perk to a cookie exchange. The extra dozen is to eat while exchanging. Have an empty platter in the center of the table. As people bring in their cookies, one dozen is opened and added to the large tray. Once everyone has handed out and collected their cookies - you have a "sample" cookie platter to enjoy over coffee, tea, milk, or your favorite drink with Christmas cookies.
This, like the way you separate and present your cookies is up to you and your inner creativity. We've had cookie exchanges at school - we meet in the school's library before school one morning, divide up the cookies, carry them out to our cars, put the extra dozen in the teacher's room, and then get back to work. I've also gone to one where we met a friends, swapped cookies and then enjoyed a time of fellowship with the kiddos watching a Christmas movie in one room and the husbands watching sports in another. It's your party - have fun with it and make it as big, or small as you need it to be.
In a nutshell - the cookie exchange is an opportunity (or excuse if you need one) to get together with your friends and/or family to enjoy a time of laughter, festive cheer, and just plain togetherness. The bonus, you'll get to eat cookies you probably would never make.
Tomorrow's blog is an opportunity for you to share your favorite Christmas cookie recipe. Oh yeah, get out those recipe cards and share them with others. Who knows, your cookie might become a cookie exchange favorite across the country just because you shared the recipe here.