Margaret Rodgers brought thumbprint cookies, which were a big hit. (Especially with my husband, Alan!)
It was year 16 for the cookie exchange, and this year we moved it to a bigger venue — our new condo in the J.C. Penney Building on Gay Street downtown. Yep, the one we haven’t moved into yet. We call it our “event center” because we mostly entertain there. But, I swear, we ARE moving in. Maybe in January.
Anyway, it was a lot less crowded. Nobody had to sit on the floor and, because we have a bigger table there, we didn’t have to use window sills to display the cookies. But, despite the larger venue, the volume was just as high as always.
This is a fun event and one that many of us consider to be the unofficial launch of our Christmas seasons.
I will put the invitation at the bottom of this post. It contains all the “rules” that you can use if you’d like to host a cookie exchange yourself. Cheers!
Wow, look at these beauties!
And these! From left, Erin Donovan, Judith Foltz and Kristin Grove.
Thanks to Katie Kline for helping out with bartending duties!
Michelle Hardin arriving with a festive haul.
Jennifer Holder, left, and Margie Nichols with pre-exchange libations. (Photo by Annette Winston.)
Janet Testerman, left, and Julia Bentley. (Photo by Annette Winston.)
Annette Winston, left, and Margie Nichols.
Brunch was a breakfast casserole, honey baked ham sandwiches, and two kinds of fruit dishes. In line, from left, Jennifer Holder, Lila Honaker, Pam Rhoades and Erin Donovan.
Margaret Rodgers, left, and Katie Kline. (Photo by Annette Winston.)
OK, go! Everyone grabs a tin from beneath the tree and fills it up! From left, Lila Honaker, Sheena McCall, Sara Rose, Mary Ellen Brewington and Lauren Miller.
From left, Pam Rhoades, Christi Branscom, Mary Pat Tyree and Sheena McCall. (Photo by Annette Winston.)
Someone cheated and had caterer Holly Hambright make their cookies. But we didn’t mind. We love Holly’s food!
Kristin Grove brought Snickerdoodles. I don’t think we’ve had a cookie exchange in 16 years when someone didn’t bring Snickerdoodles! Love ’em.
Erin Donovan brought festive bark.
Martha Buchanan’s strategy? Hang back and relax until the frenzy dies down! (More on those Ziplocs later!)
There were some damn good bar cookies!
These dark chocolate coins were unbelievable.
Pecan spice cookies brought by Annette Winston.
Pam Rhoades brought ginger-oatmeal-raisin cookies. Oh, with a bourbon glaze drizzled on top! Hubby Brian made them. (Thanks, Brian!)
Monique Anderson, left, and Mary Ellen Brewington considering their choices.
Julia Bentley brought holiday snowball cookies. They were delish!
Janet Testerman brought eggnog gooey butter cookies~ Holy cow!
From left, Pam Rhoades, Lila Honaker, Mary Pat Tyree and Michelle Hardin.
Cute shortbread stars.
Every year the cookies get better and better. But, every year one stands out above them all. This year those standouts were these cream cheese cookies that Lila Honaker brought. Aren’t they beautiful? Recipe will be at the end of the post.
Julia Bentley looks serious about this. So does Lauren Miller, pictured behind her.
About those Ziploc bags: Experience has taught us that you must separate your cookies into individual Ziploc bags. If you don’t, peppermint, ginger and cinnamon tend to transfer their flavors to other nearby cookies. And soft cookies make the crispy cookies get soft. So, we always provide a lot of Ziplocs for sorting.
Here’s that invitation with the “rules.” Thanks to Katrina Roberts of Moxley Carmichael for the design work.
Here’s the breakfast casserole recipe: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/company-breakfast-casserole. Only changes I made were to saute fresh mushrooms instead of using canned ones, which gross me out, and substituting turkey sausage for pork.
Here’s Lila’s recipe for cream cheese cookies: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/cream-cheese-cookies-3556003.amp.