The Best Christmas Cookie Exchange Recipes

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.

Download the PDF filled with cookie recipes right here!

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!

Styling and photography by Tina Fussell for A Subtle Revelry, The Holiday Issue.

Posted November 27, 2012 4 Comments
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five easy cranberry recipes

Combine this tart holiday fruit with everything from cheese to chocolate and quickly whip up holiday treats that everyone will love. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to make this traditional fruit great.

Sugared cranberries make a perfect seasonal treat. Wrap them up and soak in Bourbon for great gifts. Bowls of them sugared on the table make everyone happy.

Cranberries threaded on simple kitchen skewers make wonderful additions to holiday drinks. They are festive looking and lend a tart touch to sweeter juices and cocktails this season.

Cranberry and popcorn threading is a beloved tradition to adorn Christmas trees, but when made in small form the kids will be thrilled with a festive treat to wear and eat. The best cranberries for this simple kids project are dried ones, which you can purchase at most stores.

A simple cranberry adorned Christmas cake has become a staple of the season for us. Here are a few tips for making it just right.

The sugared variety is a great partner to many cheeses. Serve these sweet treats at your holiday party with simple holiday flags. Your guests will be asking for more in no time!

Styling and Photography by Melissa Coleman. Art direction by Victoria Hudgins for A Subtle Revelry, The Holiday Issue.

Posted November 27, 2012 Comments Off
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Simple Cranberry Christmas Cake

We often think of stringing cranberries for the Christmas tree, but the tart fruit is good for so much more! In our coming holiday magazine I’m directing an entire story on cranberries. The fruit is one of my favorite this season. As an introduction – a simple cranberry lined Christmas cake.

Recreate this look with any cake, homemade or store bought, for a pretty display this season. To make the cake, thread a needle through the cranberries to form a line, wrap around the sides of a cake, then unwind when it’s time to eat! The polished look of the cake completely betrays the ease and simplicity of creating it.

Photography and styling done in collaboration with Melissa Coleman.

PS. The countdown is on for the holiday magazine – coming out November 27th (SMILE!).

Posted November 16, 2012 6 Comments
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merry Christmas morning

We are hosting Christmas this year and busy finishing up the last minute preparations for the weekend. With all the festive meals to be eaten, it is Christmas morning breakfast that I am most excited about. We are carrying on our family tradition of waking up to Cinnabons. I stamped ribbons to adorn each bun and have built a small thrift store collection of plates to serve their warm sweet goodness on.

PS. Last year’s Christmas breakfast table.


Posted December 22, 2011 12 Comments
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making merry painted bucket

A simple project for this last week before Christmas. It only takes a couple minutes to throw together (plus dry time) and you can easily use an old glass vase you have on hand. I’m hoping it will be perfect solution for that centerpiece or a quick hostess gift you may still be in need of.

To make the bucket give an old glass vase a quick swipe of colored paint. I used a party pitcher that had lost its lid and painted underneath in black. Stick alphabet stickers onto the vase with the wordage of your choice and then spray paint the entire vase in white. Leave out to dry for a day and peel off the stickers to reveal the painted greeting. Fill with Evergreen clippings, Poinsettias or other winter flowers.


Posted December 20, 2011 5 Comments
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reason to celebrate | floral and bright Christmas

Bold floral, neon accents, and wrinkled linen add up to a perfectly set Christmas dinner table.

Photo by Sharyn Cairus, styled by Glen Proebstel for Inside Out Magazine.

PS. I am hosting Christmas dinner and searching for great recipes to include. Suggestions?


Posted December 19, 2011 7 Comments
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reason to celebrate | reverse lights

Christmas lights with their twinkling in the night are the loveliest this time of year. For day, hanging felt balls and bunting outdoors allows for the celebration to continue even while the sun is bright (love!).

Photo by Primoeza


Posted December 14, 2011 2 Comments
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layered paper balls

I’ve had a stash of these purchased paper balls for years that have slowly dwindled down each holiday season. They are such a pretty addition to our Christmas decorations.

To revive the couple left, I set out to recreate them and found it to be a very easy process. Once you have the system down you could make a handful of the balls in less than 20 minutes. They are perfect for decorating anything from trees to tables this time of year.

To make the paper balls you will use thick raffia curling ribbon readily available at crafting stores this season. Cut five pieces into one inch pieces and gently curl into ball form. Attach the first two pieces at their center with a small amount of glue. Next pull the ends up overlapping them and glue each set together. Then take the last three pieces and starting from different parts of the circle interweave them through the double base and the others as you go. Once the glue is dry, dip each ball into a bowl of Mod Podge and let dry again. This will set the shape and make the balls very durable for the crazy Christmas season.

String up in a Christmas tree or use them in pretty piles to decorate around the house.



Posted December 08, 2011 7 Comments
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