Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Advent Calendar, Day 4: Host a Holiday Cookie Exchange!

Last Friday was one of my favorite days of the year -- Cookie Party Day! I've hosted a holiday cookie exchange for the past seven years and I simply cannot imagine a December without it. It's the best way to celebrate with all my girlfriends during the holiday season. Life gets so busy this time of year, so it's great to have a few hours together to talk, eat & drink, laugh and swap delicious cookies with one another.

This year, for the first time ever, I hosted my holiday cookie party on a Friday night. I thought it would be easier for my friends to sneak away for an evening, but I actually think it might've been more difficult. Lesson learned! Not to sound all puffy-chested about it, but everyone I invite typically attends the party (minus one, maybe) and this year I had three friends not able to make it. Even so, eight of my favorite ladies dropped by for a fantastic evening together.

Each year, I try to have a theme of the party or coordinate a fun activity. This year, I organized a taste testing and voting for best cookie(s). Everyone seemed a little apprehensive at first, I think because they were nervous about their dessert being tasted and rated in front of every else. But, it was truly all in good fun and I don't think anyone felt put on the spot.

I printed these free paper awards, and purchased small gifts for each winner in the following categories:

The Most Creative Cookie - Laura, White Chocolate Peppermint Oreos
The Best Tasting Cookie - Janie, Fresh Cranberry Lemon Cookies
The Most Festive Cookie - Mirjam, Spitzbuebe (a traditional Swiss cookie)
The Most Original Cookie - Jenny, Chocolate Peppermint Cookie
The Best All-Around Cookie - Tie: Sarah, Cranberry White Chocolate & Julie, Peanut Butter Blossoms

Well, technically the chocolate fudge won the "Best All-Around Cookie" prize but then Laura confessed: she'd purchased the fudge at Lund's (a local high-end grocery store) as a back-up for her white chocolate peppermint Oreos in case they were a flop. Turns out, they weren't -- she won most creative cookie as well (!!), but we all had a great chuckle over whether she should accept the award on behalf of the great bakers at Lunds anyway. They'd be so proud!

The cookie tasting turned out to be a really fun way to try everyone's cookies. I don't know if I've ever tried them all in the past since I usually gift my allotment to our neighbors in decorative Christmas tins. Plus, they all looked so lovely displayed on my dining room table.

Additionally, I served a meat and cheese platter, bruschetta, roasted shrimp, chocolate-stuffed raspberries, wine and this refreshing non-alcoholic cranberry spritzer which was a hit with everyone. My friend Val brought a brie en croute with red pepper jelly that was really delicious, too.

Such a fun night with great friends! I'm thankful for this holiday tradition which brings us all together.

More advent calendar activities to come ...

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