Break Out Your Mixing Bowls and Pre-Heat Your Ovens!

Because it’s time to get ready for our Cookie/Candy Exchange!

After our December 17th Staff Senate Meeting, we will be having a cookie/candy exchange, in celebration of the holiday!  I’ve heard of cookie/candy exchanges in the past, but this will be the first time I’ve had the opportunity to participate in one.  I feel silly admitting that I had no idea what a Cookie/Candy Exchange was until last week!  Especially since I’ve now discovered how common Cookie/Candy Exchange Parties are.  It seems I’ve been living in a cave, because Cookie/Candy Exchanges have been around since 1936 (if you are interested in learning about the origins, click here) AND for years, most of the popular “Women’s” magazines have devoted large portions of their December issues to Cookie Exchange ideas and recipes! 

I may have been uneducated about the Cookie/Candy Exchange idea, but I can assure each of you, I know a little something, something about baking cookies!  I’m from a huge mid-western family and was always “grandma’s helper” as she pumped out 200-300 dozen cookies, to give away to friends and family each year.  We would often start the day after Thanksgiving and mix and bake almost every evening through December 30th.  On good nights, we were able to crank out 20-25 dozen, on other nights, when the little ones wanted to “help,” we were happy to do 10 dozen.  Grandma would let all the cookies cool on the dining-room table over-night and in the morning, we would delicately pack them up and freeze them (often discovering that we had lost 1-2 dozen through the course of the night as people came in and out sneaking some each time grandma looked away :)).  The weekend before Christmas, we would start assembling boxes, with 4-5 dozen cookies in each.  After Christmas, we would assemble smaller boxes to give as hostess gifts at my grandparents’ annual New Year’s Eve Party (this was huge, because “friends of friends” would come, sometimes just for the cookies!).  I don’t ever remember anyone bringing cookies, either as gifts or to exchange.  But I do remember how everyone looked forward to their cookie boxes each year (I even remember the priest talking about his cookie box during Sunday Services!).  Now days, my grandmother has scaled back significantly, but still manages to produce cookie boxes for each of her children and grandchildren and she always makes certain to send a few extra cookies in mine 🙂     

Since moving to North Carolina, I don’t have much of an occasion to bake cookies, so as you can probably tell, I am SUPER excited about our Staff Senate Cookie/Candy Exchange!!  AND I’m dedicating this post to the subject in hopes of MAXIMUM participation (I love cookies and want to make sure there are plenty to choose from 😉 )! 

Many of us probably have our own wonderful family cookie recipes to bake from, but if you didn’t happen to have a grandmother who ran a cookie-sweat-shop like mine, then you may enjoy finding a recipe from one of these web sources:

If you are the traditional type and look forward to delicious, timeless, cookies, you may want to check out these Old-Fashioned Classic recipes which include hits such as sugar cookies, wedding cookies, and gingersnaps.

You may enjoy making a recipe from England, Poland, FranceAfrica, Asia, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Mexico (here are many other cultural favorites to browse through for inspiration)!    

Maybe you prefer to enjoy your cookies without a side of guilt or the need for a New Year’s diet after indulging?  Check out these awesome lightened-up recipes from Cooking Light or these Healthy Recipes from Eating Well.

If you are looking for something new or maybe even a little unusual, you cannot go wrong with one of Betty Crocker’s Prize Winning Holiday Cookie recipes.

If you are not much of a baker, or short on time, step away from the refrigerated “break and bake” section of the grocery store and give one of these simple cookie recipes a go.

Maybe you don’t know what an oven is?  You could always choose an oven-free, delicious, recipe such as no-bake cookies or cookie-cake balls!

And of course, our list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include plenty of candy recipes too!  There’s fudge, brittle, bark, divinity, caramels, nut clustersturtles and so much more here, here and here!

Looking forward to seeing you, and your cookie/candy exchange goodies on December 17th!!