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How to host a fun and easy cookie exchange

Tis the day after Thanksgiving and holiday baking is officially in season. As we gear up for all the hoopla and fa la la la la-ing, who has time to bake cookies?

You can kill two partridges with one pear tree and share the cookie duties with friends by hosting a cookie exchange party! You’ll all save money and time, get a great variety of cookies and have a low-effort, high-return holiday gathering. Here’s ho, ho how:

Decide who to invite and send invitations. Your invitation should state clearly that you are having a cookie exchange and that each guest is expected to arrive with cookies and that they will be taking cookies home. Each person bakes and brings the same number (multiple dozens) of one kind of cookie to share. I find if everyone brings four dozen cookies; that works nicely. You know how ambitious your friends are when it comes to baking in quantity. If you think they can happily bring more, do so.

Ask each guest to bring one dozen on a plate to enjoy at the party and three dozen in a large zip top bag for you to divide and send home. This way, no matter how many people attend, everyone goes home with three dozen cookies and a sugar coma.

Send invitations at least three weeks beforehand. Asking friends to bake dozens of cookies at the last minute is not very Diva.

Ask each invitee to let you know in advance what cookies they plan to bring to avoid duplications. Ask them to print the recipe to share, noting any allergens and put their name on it in case there are questions.

Before the party pick up plates, napkins and cups and cover your largest table with a festive cloth to present the cookies. Make place cards for each cookie. Bonus points if you can find inexpensive holiday platters or containers you can send home with the cookies as a little gift to each guest.

Serve an assortment of beverages; coffee, tea, hot cocoa or cider and of course – ice cold milk! It’s also important to offer a contrast to all the sweet with a light meal like soup and sandwich and some savory snacks.

If you’re expecting children at the party, set up a cookie decorating station with sugar cookies, icing and sprinkles and have a holiday movie ready to keep the little ones occupied. Prepare a kid-friendly protein-rich snack, like chicken nuggets, to minimize the sugar melt-downs.

Once all your guests have arrived you will have a head count. Set out that number of plates and divide each bag of three dozen (36 cookies) among the plates. For example, if you have 12 guests, you will have three of each type of cookie on each plate. No matter how many guests you have, if they all bring the right number of cookies, they will get the same number of cookies to take home. Wrap your plates in plastic wrap and be sure each guest leaves with one at the end of your frugal and fabulous party.

Frugal Festivity contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.

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