Many years ago, I went to my first cookie exchange. I brought a tray full of cookies and a stack of cards with the recipe on it. So did all of the other guests. We nibbled cookies, drank coffee, laughed a lot and left with a slew of holiday cookies and new recipes!
Salt and Sugar Chocolate Bars, or Harper’s Surprise, is a recipe from my friend Heather. It has become one of the things that I must make every holiday season. It is so easy and addictive. Sweet and salty is my favorite combination and this recipe is just that.
Not only is Harper’s Surprise a holiday tradition, so is hosting a cookie exchange. Cookie swaps do not have to be fancy occasions…just serve some coffee or tea and a few appetizers. The point is to get into the holiday spirit by listening to festive music, by spending time with friends and by eating cookies. Lots and lots of cookies!
I have had many parties through the years, and each time, I get better at hosting them. Here are a few tricks and tips I have learned:
Send out your invites early. Holiday schedules fill up quickly. By having your party on the calendar early, guests can most likely make it and have time to bake their cookies. Tell guests to RSVP with the kind of cookie that they are going to make so you can avoid duplicates.
Keep the guest list small. I would usually say the more the merrier. But when you have more than 10 guests, the amount of cookies that need to be baked is daunting. With 10 guests, you’ll come home with 10 dozen cookies and 9 new recipes. Sounds good to me!
Give guests the guidelines. Have each person make a dozen cookies for each guest and an extra dozen for the cookie tray to be served at the party. That way, everyone can sample all of the goodies without dipping into their take-home stash.
Remember the recipes. Remind guests to bring copies of their recipes for each person. Small, inexpensive holiday binders for the recipe cards make great party favors.
Offer cookie containers. Make sure to have containers for guests to fill with their cookies. There is nothing worse than having dozens of gorgeous cookies and no way to get them home! You could also ask guests to prepackage their cookies before coming to the party.