Hosting a Holiday Cookie Exchange

Tips on baking and exchanging for gatherings big and small

High-end bakery cookies now come with sticker shock. “Sixty dollars?” you might gasp as you turn over the three-pound red, green and silver package.

That’s one reason why holiday cookie exchanges are so popular. Cookbook author Roxanne Wyss Bateman, who blogs at pluggedincooking.com, hosts one every year. But she has even more reasons to love cookie sharing.

“You get to try some really amazing cookies. And it’s one of the easiest ways to entertain,” she says. “You just need a pot of soup or chili. Everybody else is bringing dessert.”

Wyss Bateman urges her guests to bring homemade, not store-bought cookies. “The great thing with cookies is that you can make and freeze them a month ahead. I just ask my friends to bake and bring a cookie they love along with the recipe. If you’ve invited friends by email, you can scan the recipes and send them to everyone later.”

For a gathering of eight people, she asks each guest to bring at least two dozen of the same cookie. “The idea is to sample one cookie at the party, then go around the buffet table with a tray and take one of each guest’s cookies until they’re all gone,” she says. Each person ends up with multiples of eight different cookies.

Wyss Batemen makes her cookie buffet table festive with greenery. To display the cookies at different heights, she uses props underneath and on top of the tablecloth. She gives each guest a clear plastic cookie tray she buys at a dollar store, then lines it with a paper doily so it looks pretty.

You end up with a tray of colorful, flavorful, festive cookies that you nibble to your heart’s desire, serve at your own gathering or freeze for entertaining later in the month.

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