Katie Kline getting ready to pounce on the cookies when the signal is given!
It’s a crazy, loud party, but we love it! It’s our annual Christmas cookie exchange — held the Sunday after Thanksgiving weekend each year at high noon. We eat salads, drink wine, mimosas and Bloody Marys, and swap cookies — and gossip! After 20 years, we have it down to a science.
Here are some things we have learned over the years, in case you would like to plan your own cookie exchange:
- Have everyone make six dozen cookies. I know it seems like a lot, but it’s really just a double batch of most cookie recipes.
- Folks should bring all their cookies on one platter or in a container. Don’t divide them up into individual baggies because we never know exactly how many folks are coming and you’ll just end up having to re-make the bags.
- Do provide Ziplock sandwich bags for folks to place their cookies in when they leave. This is important because if you put all the cookies together, you’ll end up with a mess as strong-flavored cookies like peppermint, peanut butter, or ginger will leach their tastes onto the other cookies. Plus, soft cookies will make hard cookies get soft!
That’s about it. I find that having two friends help with bartending duties is a godsend — one to staff the wine and mimosa station; the other making Bloody Marys. And, get this, you never know what drink will be the most popular each year. One year we had to send out for more Bloody Mary mix. One year a lot of folks drank beer. This year, I don’t think we had a single beer-drinker!
Annette Winston wearing her mother’s belt. Isn’t it great? She’s had it for years and says it goes in and out of fashion. I think it’s terrific!
But, I digress! Here are the cookies!
Margaret Rodgers, left, and Gay Lyons during the pre-game.
From left, Julia Bentley, Cathy Briscoe, and Erin Donovan.
Tasha Blakney, left, and Jennifer Holder.
The Barefoot Contessa’s smoked salmon dip is always a hit.
These are supposed to be cheddar cheese olive balls. But they spread out during the baking process, so I called them “olive hills!” Folks still liked them. They were all gone at the end of the party.
We usually mingle for about an hour before lunch.
Janet Testerman, left, and Mary Ellen Brewington.
I have had this Gail Pittman pattern called “Hollylujah” for decades! The cookie party is its first appearance each year.
Lunch was four kinds of salad. Clockwise from top left, Tuscan pasta salad, Mediterranean white bean salad, macerated fruit salad, and apple, blue cheese and walnut salad. With Sister Schubert rolls, of course.
More lunch chatting. You get the idea!
Love this picture of Janet Testerman, right, and her mother, Janet Testerman Crossley.
From left, Lynne Fugate, Annette Winston, and Shaun Fulco.
We had one more piece of business before the actual cookie swap: to recognize Jacque Hawks’ birthday!
She turned 55 that day!
Just look at some of the delicious cookies!
Every year someone nervously contacts me and asks if they have to actually make the cookies themselves. My answer: “The cookie police will not be on site. No questions asked!”
I know it seems impossible, but they get better every year!
I don’t even want to think about the number of calories on that table! That’s why we have salads for lunch.
The main event: grab your selection of cookies!
The cookie collecting is serious business! From left, Sara Rose, Kathy Darnell, Cathy Briscoe, Mary Ellen Brewington, and Annette Winston.
Margie Nichols is concentrating on the task at hand.
Mary Pat Tyree, left, and Sheena McCall applying themselves.
From left, Katie Kline, Sara Rose, and Sheena McCall.
Thank you to my generous and talented friends Susan Brown, left, who served wine and mimosas, and Dawn Ford, who handed out Bloody Marys.
And to my sweet husband, Alan, who goes to Walmart on Chapman Highway every year and buys all the cookie tins they have!