Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Cookie Exchange - Lessons Learned, Tips, and a Giveaway Sneak Peak!

One of my favorite holiday traditions is baking Christmas cookies, and I like to share them with others at a cookie exchange. While cookie exchanges are meant to be a time to relax with friends, exchange recipes, and eat yummy food, many people find them frustrating and stressful.

However, Hershey's has launched a new campaign to make cookie exchanges easy for everyone! I recently had the opportunity to interview Linda Stahl, who is the baking authority at Hershey's kitchen. She had some great tips and ideas for both the host and the attendee (see video below)!

I have been hosting cookie exchanges for the last 6 years so I've learned lots of things to make the whole thing more enjoyable for the host. Here are my top 5 tips for hosting a cookie exchange:

1. Plan your menu well in advance so you have plenty of time to grocery shop, pick up the festive plates & napkins, and figure out if you have enough platters on which to display the food.
2. Plan a menu that doesn't require much last-minute prep work. As guests arrive, you should be able to greet them, chat, and invite them to start eating. Don't get yourself stuck in the kitchen taking the hors d'oeuvres out of the oven and miss the party. I try to make things that can be served at room temperature so it can all be set up 30 minutes before guests arrive.
3. Bake your cookie for the exchange at least a day in advance. The cookies will stay fresh as long as you store them properly, and this will allow you plenty of time to prepare the rest of the food for the party.
4. Keep your guests informed! Let them know how many people are coming to the party so they have enough cookies and recipe copies. Also, let them know if you'll be serving a sit-down meal or just hors d'oeuvres so they can plan accordingly.
5. Relax and enjoy your guests! Abandon the kitchen during the party so you can chat with your guests and enjoy the holiday ambiance.

If you're attending a cookie exchange, don't make the assumption that the cookie you bring needs to be complicated or "impressive." Often, the most simple recipes are the tastiest ones! Unless you have plenty of time on your hands, don't try a cookie for the first time the day before or the day of the exchange. Stick to a family recipe or one you're familiar with! You'll arrive at the party in a much better mood, and you might even have a great family story to share about your cookie!

If you're hosting an exchange or have been to one this year, think about 1 tip you'd share with others. And stay tuned because I'll be posting a giveaway from Hershey's in the next few days! To enter, you'll leave your suggestion in the comments section of the giveaway post (not this one) start thinking now!

In the meantime, you can go to Hershey's website and register for a chance to win TWO $10,000 kitchen makeovers - one for you and one for a friend!

Also, check out my friend Julie's interview with Linda Stahl on her blog thelittlekitchen. She's got her giveaway up now so head on over!


miso said...

I have been following your blog for quite some time now. : ) Thank you for the wonderful tips!

Gabby said...

I have found some very cool things sense finding your site earlier today, I have added your button to my blog( ) and liked the facebook page.
Have a great day.

callbr549 said...

I love a good cookie exchange.

The Girl from the Ghetto said...

Wow, that is so cool you got to do this!

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