Mary Ellen Brewington loading up her tin at this year’s cookie exchange.
This was the 11th year for our annual cookie exchange and, by now, it just wouldn’t seem like Christmas without it. Our spouses and families have come to look forward to it, and we know all the “rules” for getting the cookies home in the best condition. Most important: Don’t mix them all together!
Rather, separate them based on type: All peanut butter cookies together in one baggie; all peppermint cookies together; all ginger cookies together. And, for goodness’ sake, don’t mix the soft cookies with the crisp cookies — or they all will turn out soft! Trust us on this. It comes from years of experience.
We highly recommend that everyone either organize or participate in a cookie exchange. It’s easy. If you are the host, just enlist a friend to help you with bartending and then serve a light lunch buffet — either a brunch casserole or a number of quiches and salads. If you are a guest, bake six dozen of your favorite cookies and bring them to the exchange. After an hour of socializing and a few bites to help keep up your stamina, it’s a free-for-all as everyone races to the table to collect a wonderful assortment of cookies.
It’s fun to watch because each woman has a different strategy. Some go straight for the kill, tossing cookies into their tin without much thought. (Of course, they sort them out later!) Others stand back and meticulously decide which cookies to select. But the bottom line is that this is, as one guest observed, “the best girls’ party of the year.” The cookies are just the excuse — and a great byproduct to bring home.
Olive the topiary reindeer keeps watch over the main cookie table.
But we had so many cookies this year that we even had to use the window sills to display them!
But first, cocktails. Here are Gay Lyons, left, and Susan Brown, who served as the bartender. A funny thing: You never know what drink is going to be most popular. This year, Bloody Marys were the hit. Nobody drank a single beer. Sometimes, it’s mimosas or white wine.
Ellen Robinson, left, and Dawn Ford.
Ranee Randby, left, and Dr. Martha Buchanan.
From left, Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, Monique Anderson and Sara Fortune Rose.
Shaun Fulco Hyver, left, and Tami Hartmann.
Then, food. Here’s the Barefoot Contessa’s smoked salmon dip, a favorite of many of us. (Click here for that easy recipe.)
Susan and Martha getting their brunch on.
Sara Rose, left, and Phyllis Nichols seem rather intense.
Monique Anderson, left, and Mintha Roach grabbed seats at the window.
Michelle Hardin, right, brought her mom, Dortha. She was a fun addition.
From left, Annette Winston, Dawn Ford and Sheena McCall.
Janet Testerman Creswell, left and Gay Lyons plopped on the floor. (We do have limited seating in our downtown condo. But it’s cozy!)
Anyway, I guess they liked it. Here’s what was left of the Christmas Brunch Casserole, a Pinterest recipe. Click here, if you’d like to see what’s in it.
The cookies were awesome, as usual. Tami Hartmann made these thumbprints.
She also brought these Christmas mice — a tradition for our group by now.
Julia Bentley brought peanut butter kiss cookies.
These shortbread cookies were festive.
These sugar cookies by Monique Anderson look great on the tray she selected.
I was proud of Shaun Fulco Hyver. She usually buys her cookies, but this year made these Oreo cookie balls herself — and they were fantastic.
Smoky Mountain Snowcaps.
Ranee’s contribution: peanut butter chocolate chip. What’s not to like?
Not sure what these were, except dang good!
These coconut numbers by Phyllis Nichols were big hits.
Sara Pinnell’s were supposed to be Linzer trees. But she discovered she didn’t have a tree cookie cutter — so she made Linzer fish!
Mary Ellen Brewington brought delicious lemon lavender cookies.
These were some kind of lemon cake cookies. Yummy.
Sheena McCall contributed super tasty chocolate shortbread cookies.
Margaret Rodgers made the most adorable gingerbread people!
It’s cookie time! Here’s Sheena, followed by Shaun.
From left, Julia Bentley, Monique, Ellen Robinson and Janet. This is very serious business!
Phyllis Nichols, left, and Michelle Hardin.
Susan Brown, left, and Kristin Grove were taking a more deliberative approach.
This cracked me up! Margie Nichols is among the smallest at the party — but she had two tins to fill up. (Actually, one was for Annette, Margie’s neighbor who had to leave early to catch a performance of “The Nutcracker.”)
Haha! Phyllis only had one tin — pay no attention to whatever is under that aluminum foil!
Julia Bentley sampling the wares.
And, after the volume died down as folks drifted out with their plunder, Rexie, the shyest cat in the world, made an appearance.
Great job, everybody!
Love the photo of Phyllis. Ha!
Made me sad all over again that I couldn’t make it.
My family looks forward to the cookie exchange as much as I do. Sure glad that Dawn shared her baggies with me. EVERY cookie was delicious. Thanks for a great party too!
…Rexie was the star!!
Not a bad cookie in the bunch. I know I tried them all over a period of several days.
I think this was a record year for good cookies!
Mickey: We missed you! And not just because of the Razz-Ma-Tazz cookies you usually bring! (Well, we missed them, too.)
Phyllis: Glad you got to separate all those cookies! Thanks for bringing the macaroons! Big hit!
Melanie: She always is!
Alan: No kidding!
Monique: I agree!
Rexie looks so happy and the cookies look delicious!
Best girlfriend party of the year! Love the socializing & the brunch casseroles. The cookies aren’t bad either! Thanks for hosting.
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