Swap this Cookie for that Cookie

I absolutely love the holiday season and everything that comes with the holidays, the music, the lights, and of course the FOOD!

Over the years the holiday traditions have changed/ evolved and with that the holiday traditions you grew up with are either no longer or have expanded along with family members. I know for me on Christmas Eve it was hosted at my grandparents home, than over the years my parents would host, and then most recently about 3 years ago, I started hosting at my house with my fiance and his family members too.

Over the years family dynamic has changed and the different traditions have emerged. I recently have decided since the holiday season is a challenging one to try to get everyone together that I would start a new tradition, a Cookie Swap or Cookie Exchange.

I started doing some “pintrest homework” how to host the perfect Cookie Exchange.

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Here are some of my tip’s on hosting.

  • Make a digital invite, almost everyone has Facebook now adays or an email. Save money and send the invites out digitally!
  • Request your guests to make ingredients/ directions cards so if there is an allergy a guest will know
  • Don’t know how many cookies to have your guest bring, basically that is up to you but what I did was ask my guests to bring 6 dozen cookies, I had 6 women come so each of them brought a dozen of each cookie home

All of your guests want some kind of guidance!  Some are pros and some are baking for the first time.  Usually, you get someone that breaks the rules, but it’s okay.  As long as you let all of your guests know what you expect, it will all go smooth.

  • Decorate your home, at this time I am sure your home is decorated for the holidays so you may not have to do too much
  • When guests arrive with the cookies have them set up all the cookies in a designed area on the table, I had chalkboard labels to display each cookie name. This makes it easier for guests to know which cookie is which and make it easier for grabbing and voting!
  • Provide a festive drink, you can do hot cocoa, but I just stuck with wine.
  • Provide food/appetizers, while they are eye balling all of those cookies before the trade!  You may choose whether you want your guests to taste the cookies or not at all. Depending upon your budget, you may serve some light appetizers, other sweets, or even a meal. I choose an array of pickings.
  • If you are having a contest, give your guests voting ballets for the categories to vote
    • provide prizes or winner ribbons.

Some Prize Categories can be,

  • Most Amazing Display
  • Prettiest Cookie
  • Most Unique Cookie
  • Most Outrageous Holiday Outfit
  • Door Prize (Ask each guest to bring ONE cookie cutter.  Collect all of the cookie cutters and give them away as a prize!)

Some Idea Prizes can be,

  • Cookie Cookbook
  • Cookie jar
  • Cookie baking sheet
  • Cookie cooling racks
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon and/or spatula
  • Measuring cups and/or spoons
  • Cookie cutter(s)
  • Cookie sprinkles
  • Pretty apron
  • Rolling pin
  • Parchment paper
  • Oven mitts

Now the time has come to exchange/ swap the cookies!

  • Take a moment to ask each of guests to share a story of the cookie recipe they brought, or their adventures of baking them.  Also, your guests may love to share some of their family holiday traditions.  This gives the others new ideas for their families!
  • Time to trade and exchange the cookies!  I hand each of my guests an aluminum disposable to go container with lid– found at any kind of dollar store.  I line each of them with holiday decorated tissue paper and now my guests are able to go around and fill up their containers!

I hope you all find this information helpful on planning a holiday cookie exchange party! If you are thinking of hosting one, take some bits and pieces from my experience of hosting and make them your own. Enjoy your time with you family and friends, this gathering should be a fun time to kick back and show your baking skills!

. . . .

The cookies I had made were Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies, below is my recipe

Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 (11 oz.) bag caramel bites
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream/milk
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate baking bars
  • sea salt, for sprinkling on top
Instructions:
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract until combined.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each egg.
  4. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!
  5. Using a spatula, stir in chocolate chips until combined.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough into balls about 1 Tablespoons each and place onto prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  8. Immediately after taking cookies out of the oven, using handle of a wooden spoon, make indentation into center of each cookie. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet.
  9. In a medium-sized bowl, combine caramel bits and heavy whipping cream. Microwave for 1 minute, stirring until caramel is completely melted. Spoon 1 teaspoon of caramel into each indentation.
  10. In a medium-sized bowl, microwave chocolate baking bars for 30 seconds, stirring after each 30-second intervals until chocolate is completed melted. Drizzle chocolate over cookies and sprinkle with sea salt.

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The Budget Friendly Bride

I recently got engaged 4 months ago and the first thoughts in my mind were, “how do I get my Pintrest board ideas to become reality” and pay only a fraction or in my case, a faction of the fraction of the cost. By no means do I consider myself “cheap” but I do consider myself “budget savvy”.

After my first initial “Is this really happening, I have to plan a wedding” shock, reality started to settle in. And not the reality of being someones wife, okay that is shocking too but the reality of “where the hell am I getting the money for a wedding!” I took a deep breathe and reevaluated the situation and of course my Pintrest board.

Since I had a whole year and 3 months away until my wedding day, I decided to handle the deposits of my vendors first. I did a TON of research on vendors (Photography, Videography, DJ/Band, Flowers, and Catering) I contacted close to 20-30 people in each individual vendor category, looked at their samples, met with them, and contacted their references. Since I was getting a jump start on booking, I requested immediate quotes, asked for military discounts (my fiance is in the Army), and/or special pricing since I would be booking with them immediately. I must say if not all, A LOT of the vendors were able to provide me discounts, its all in the approach.

I also knew I wanted the following things for the decor at my wedding:

  • Unique Centerpieces
  • A Bridal Bouquet I can keep for years to come
  • Beautiful personal wedding gifts for parents
  • Shabby Chic decor
  • and anything I can get a discount on

For the centerpieces, I decided to look at my local thrift shops, craigslist, and tag sales. I wanted something unique and not your typical flower arrangement. I decided on lanterns, I found a bunch of different colors and styles and decided on instead of putting the same color/style lanterns on every table, each table will be different.

For my bridal bouquet, as much as I love fresh flowers, I decided to make a brooch bouquet. I found a ton of ideas and designs on Pintrest and Etsy. Instead of paying $500 for someone to do my bouquet, I decided since I am design savvy, I got this! and I did! I requested brooches from my grandmothers and my mother in law so I can incorporate them in my bouquet as my something old and something borrowed. I am still in the process of creating this amazing piece and will update with pictures once it is completed.

The beautiful personal wedding gifts for my parents, I don’t want to spoil it too much with what I came up with but I will say, it is something very meaningful and apart of my childhood with both of my parents, my father always carries a handkerchief with him. I will leave the rest up for your imaginations.

and the Shabby Chic Decor, Pintrest has a plethora of ideas, I have since decided on the vintage ladder and twinkle lights, mason jars, and our initials in wood decorated on each step, as well as the old vintage windows with pictures throughout our relationship. I am still happily “pinning” more as I type.

My wedding is not until May 26, 2017 but I wanted to get a jump start on designing and getting decor since the budget is tight. I will definitely be providing more blogs about my Savvy Wedding Ways in the future, I think I may have a passion for this Wedding planning stuff after all.