Create a Community Event: Holiday Cookie Exchange

The sweet smells of baking in the kitchen is a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. This year, invite friends to a low-key, high-payoff cookie swap where everyone will reap the rewards with an array of delicious desserts. Here are a few recipes and tips for throwing a festive holiday shindig that’s anything but cookie-cutter.

Set the Date: Plan the party close enough to the holidays so the cookies will last, but not so late that you get caught up in the last-minute rush.

Ready, Set, Prep: Add a few elevated stands to a large table to help maximize table space and visual appeal. Make place cards that double as a recipe card and place next to platters for easy identification and selection. Use paper bakery boxes and festive twine for guests to take home their cookies.

Provide Savory Sides: Be sure to offset all those sweet samplings during the party by serving a few hearty appetizers to your guests. Drink pairings like hot tea, eggnog, coffee, festive punch and sparkling wine will complement your cookie tasting.

Kid Friendly: A cookie-decorating station will keep the little ones happily entertained. Set out cooled, un-decorated sugar cookies in festive shapes and an assortment of frosting, candies, and sprinkles. Disposable, personalized paper aprons and chef’s hats will allow them to decorate in style. Snacks and cold milk are perfect cookie pairings for the little ones.

Sweet Inspiration: Here are a few delicious festive cookie recipes fit for your cookie exchange and any holiday celebration.

Spiced Ginger Rum Balls: These classic boozy holiday balls are a perennial favorite and pair nicely with a warm rum cocktail.

Raspberry Sugar Cookie Sandwiches: Sandwich raspberry preserves between sweet vanilla sugar cookies for a dessert that’s both pretty and tasty.

Peppermint Meltaways: Chocolate kisses are inserted into balls of peppermint dough before a quick bake. The finishing touch? A roll in peppermint candy-infused powdered sugar.

Salted Caramel-Ginger Macarons: A generous smear of caramel and quick sprinkle of sea salt take these festive French confections over the top.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze: Lemon lovers will appreciate these light, bright ricotta cookies. They travel well, making them great for gifts and cookie swaps.

Eggnog-Frosted Nutmeg Sugar Cookies: Coarse sugar gives these lightly spiced cookies a touch of holiday sparkle.

Follow these steps and you’ll enjoy a perfect party with friends, food, festive cheer, and enough sweets to last you the rest of the season. Plus, you’ll enjoy plenty of new recipes to test out when your stash runs out. Now that’s a sweet deal.

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