Phyllis Nichols, left, and Shaun Fulco seem happy with their haul of cookies. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
It’s the craziest thing what a bunch of cookies and a few glasses of wine will do to adult women! After 14 years, I am no longer too surprised by the noise level and the enthusiasm with which my friends throw themselves into the annual rite that is our cookie exchange. But it still impresses me.
I know we say this every year, but I swear the cookies were the best EVER this time! So were the Bloody Marys. I switched from Zing Zang mix to V8 Bloody Mary mix and like it so much better. It’s lighter and easier to drink. (Maybe that’s not such a good thing!)
Check out our cookie exchange and see tips for planning your own. If you are like us, it’s a tradition you won’t be able to stop. Your family members won’t let you.
Ranee Randby unloading her Naughty and Nice cake cookies.
Sara Hedstrom Pinnell’s cookies reminded me of Heath bars. Yum.
Sheena McCall and Rachel Ford waiting for the exchange to begin.
From left, Mintha Roach, Monique Anderson and Annette Winston.
From left, Pam Rhoades, Shaun Fulco and Tami Hartmann.
Margie Nichols, left, and Sara Rose.
Janet Testerman, left, and Susan Brown. Susan, who doesn’t bake, instead contributes by serving as our bartender, which is an important job at this event.
Susan gave me these cocktail napkins — perfect for the occasion.
Kristin Grove, left, and Margaret Rodgers.
Jennifer Holder brought her famous cracker candy. Not technically a cookie, but we all love it.
Dawn Ford, right with Bloody Mary in hand, greeting an enthusiastic Ellen Robinson and her cookies.
Christi Branscom, left, and Julia Bentley unloading their treasures.
From left, Janet Testerman, Gay Lyons, Dawn Ford and Ranee Randby.
Gay helped me out by passing around the bruschetta.
Lunch was a brunch casserole, ham sandwiches, fruit and banana bread. Folks needed to keep their strength up for the upcoming challenge. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
After lunch, it was time for the main event. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Ellen Robinson brought the most unusual cookie: bacon fat ginger snaps. When you first bite into them, they taste like ginger. But then the bacon flavor rises up and takes over. The leftovers were a big hit with the guys at the office.
Sara Rose brought Scottish shortbread. Elegant.
Julia Bentley’s peanut butter chocolate chip cookies were fantastic.
These beauties had a lemony flavor. I recognize the platter as belonging to Monique Anderson.
Margie Nichols’ cookies were called Mudslide Cookies. They were the deepest, darkest chocolate. I loved them.
Rachel Ford’s peanut brittle brought raves.
A frenzy of cookie grabbing.
Janet happily making her selections.
Rachel Ford had to consider a husband and two children when making her choices.
Katie Kline, left, and Margaret Rodgers deliberating.
Michelle Hardin, left, and Susan Brown seriously considering the options.
This process doesn’t take very long. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Dawn and Janet grabbing Ziploc bags from Mintha.
You might think Mintha has an important job as CEO of the Knoxville Utilities Board that provides gas, electric, water and wastewater services to more than 445,000 customers in Knoxville and parts of seven surrounding counties. But on this particular Sunday, dispensing Ziploc bags was the most important job of all!
Here’s why. We have learned from experience that you need to separate your cookies and put each in a bag with similar cookies. Otherwise, the cookies with peppermint, ginger or peanut butter spread their flavors to the other cookies. And the soft cookies end up turning the crisp cookies soft. See why the baggies are so important?
Here’s a nice looking batch prior to being sorted. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Shaun seemed pleased by her assortment.
Rachel wasn’t putting down the cookie tin — or the wine glass!
Thanks to everyone who came. And to Katrina Roberts of Moxley Carmichael who designed our great invitations. I recommend this kind of holiday gathering for everyone. It really kicks off the season! Here’s the invitation with some of the “rules” in case you decide to do this next year.