With Christmas holidays coming up, many cooks will be looking at lots of baking and preparations for parties and get-togethers not to mention big day itself. How can you reduce stress and still put out a variety of tasty treats for family and friends? Try a cookie exchange.
The general idea of a cookie exchange is a group of friends each bake a batch of cookies to be shared amongst group. Each member concentrates on and only has to purchase ingredients for one recipe but still gets a variety of goodies to offer at their own home. You need ground rules and everyone has different ideas so it is a good idea to discuss details in advance so everyone knows their role.
For some parties there is a strict rule about cookies being homemade. At others gathering is more important so if a member feels a time crunch at last minute they can choose to buy something from bakery. Store bought bagged cookies would be taboo but bakery, homemade-like would be okay.
First, agree on a timeline. Make sure each member can make commitment and ask that they each set aside baking time at least a few days before scheduled exchange (that way they have time to bake and time to fix it if something goes wrong). Another reason you might want to bake cookies early is they "cure" a bit. Fresh cookies don't really transport well and tend to crumble badly during exchange.
Ask your members to send you their recipes so you can make copies for others and ensure that no two are making same cookies (don't forget, variety is key!). They don't all have to bake cookies either, bars and macaroons work really well too. It is a nice idea if they include a few lines about why they chose this recipe or any memories they have of making or eating these cookies. Sharing details of how recipe was once grandma's or how you set fire to kitchen one time while baking them is half fun of party! Create a booklet of recipes and memories for each member to keep. If you have a digital camera you could even take pics at party of cookies and members to include in booklets.