Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Advent Calendar, Day 14: Host a Holiday Party!

Months ago, when I told my friends I was expecting my second baby in November, one of their first questions were if I planned to host my annual holiday party. No lie. It's kind of become my thing - I'm the cookie party lady - and the holiday cookie party is something I really enjoy hosting every year. Could I pull it off mere weeks after having a baby? I wasn't sure ....

What started as a "holiday baking party" five years ago has transpired into a holiday cookie exchange we all look forward to attending. Year One and Two were a small group of women baking treats together. The third year, Andi and I hosted a couple's cookie exchange and last year was the grand-daddy party of them all, with 20 women and 25 kids in attendance. If I planned to host a holiday party this year, I knew I had to keep it simple for my own sanity. I just had a baby three weeks ago for goodness sake!

Simple meant I had to keep the party details small and easy. I made the difficult decision to only invite 10 people to the party this year. I felt a serious amount of guilt about this because there are so many people I wanted to celebrate with, but more people = more work and I just couldn't swing it. I also kept the menu simple (another hard-for-me part because I love to cook and bake at the holidays) with individual store-bought cheesecakes, Belgian chocolates, homemade biscotti and fruit.

This year's party theme was a "holiday tea" Christmas cookie exchange so I served peppermint, gingerbread spice and cranberry apple hot teas, coffee and mulled red wine. I also handmade the invitations to look like tea bags to correspond with the party theme.

I made this cranberry pistashio cookie recipe and there were many other delicious treats exchanged like molasses crinkles, reindeer sugar cookies, Russian tea cakes, and peppermint chocolate chip cookies to name a few. Surprisingly, no one brought peanut butter blossoms this year ... maybe it was because there were the most popular cookie at the exchange last year!

I was having so much fun chatting with all my girlfriends, I took zero pictures of actual people at the party. You'll just have to trust me when I say everyone had a fabulous time. I know I sure did.

Today, Tory and I boxed up all the cookies into Christmas tins and we're headed out into the neighborhood to spread holiday cheer by delivering them to the neighbors. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

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