One of my very favorite holiday traditions is the hosting of an annual cookie exchange and this year I decided to throw one in true Scandinavian style.
The tradition started as a way of saving everyone from baking hundreds of cookies for the holidays all alone. In the past few years it has snowballed with the addition of many international friends.
Everyone bakes a batch of their favorite cookies and brings them to the party along with the enough copies of the recipe for everyone attending. Once the table is filled with cookies, we grab pretty containers and fill up with a little of each kind. After everyone has had her share it is time to do a little taste testing!
This year we were all amazed by Nina’s Swedish Pepperkakor, which looks just like the variety so many of us have become accustomed to through Ikea… except as a homemade version it tastes so much better!
Everyone ooh’ed and aah’ed over Anya’s Danish trilogy of cookies, which used one basic dough and then was divided into three portions so each could be flavored a little differently. Karen delighted us with a traditional Canadian oatmeal raisin cookie that was soft and chewy while Heidi laughingly told us that her chocolate biscotti was not really so Norwegian, but something she makes every year.
Host a Cookie Exchange this year with a few simple tips:
1) Pick a day that is childcare friendly if your friends are moms. I’ve discovered over the years that dads are especially willing to watch the kids for a few hours in exchange for cookies!
2) Keep your party décor simple. The cookies should take center stage!
3) Maybe you do not live near your friends or family? Host an online event where everyone must exchange a photo of their cookies and the recipe. Or better yet, engage your friends to send baked boxes in the mail to one another.
4) If you have extra time, add in the materials for cookie wrapping to the event. It will give ladies an excuse to chat a little while longer and everyone will come home with ready-made gifts.
5) Have a friend that wants to come but claims to be hopeless in the kitchen? Volunteer to bake with her! Baking is bonding and two make cleaning up half the work!