I don’t know because I did it, but because I have been to one, well, more than one, but this was exceptional. No pressure on the hostess for the next cookie swap I attend intended!
First, invite a good number of people and have it at the time of day that works best for you. Our hostess today had it right after school drop-off (8:30am) and her warm and welcoming, and beautifully festive home smelled of coffee and a Christmas Morning Breakfast (baked gorgeousness with eggs, sausage and sourdough bread – this is not her exact recipe – it is a variation). There were huge bowls of fruit; grapes, clementines, and bananas for healthy snacking (to offset the breakfast of cookies) and in addition to tea and coffee there was cider and orange juice. Pretty holiday mugs were perched on a tray near the coffee and tea on the kitchen counter. Fruit and egg deliciousness (I offered to be the first to dig in to it – I am useful sometimes if not self-serving – no pun but kind of if you want to take it that way – go ahead) on the kitchen table and pretty sideboard. The cookies reigned in a place of honor on the dining room table which meant we had to move around and not all gather in the kitchen the whole time (which always happens). Great space planning – sort of like when you think about where to put the bar at a cocktail party to make the flow of the party work.
There were extra platters for people to use for their cookie displays, (we are all not so experienced) and there was saran wrap, foil and holiday tins (a huge gorgeous assortment to choose from (she gathers them throughout the year) to take home your loot in if you failed to bring a container large or secure enough. Brilliant, really, and so easy to do. Little tags were attached to these darling ornament placeholders identifying cream, milk, coffee, etc. Perfect.
Hand-knitted stockings (one just like the one my mother knitted for me – same pattern!) hung on the mantle and the beautifully decorated tree was lit and added to the spirit of the morning.
The mix of women was wonderful and fun and our hostess was able to fully participate because she wasn’t cooking or explaining which pitcher has the cream in it ten times over. Some of us see each other daily and some only catch up at a fun gathering such as this one. What a lovely start to the day, including how much sugar I consumed before noon…grin.
The cookies I made (my granola bars) were an epic fail because I ran out of parchment paper mid-way through and used waxed paper which does not share all of the properties of parchment paper. Basically, despite heavy buttering, the wax paper remained on my granola bars. Flash forward to ten o’clock at night I was still hand peeling the paper off the back of the bars when it occurred to me to toss it all and make more cookies – in the morning. So, at 5 am, I made Barefoot Contessa butter cookies. I used adorable cookie cutters from IKEA – $5.99 – cute and practical – the smaller cookie cutters nest inside the larger ones.