Christmas Cookie Exchange Tips

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I am gearing up to start my 1st of 2 full days of baking over this next week to satisfy almost 20 dozen cookies for two different cookie exchange parties, one that I have attended for the last 8 years and the other a new tradition to my family that I started last year. As I get myself ready to begin the first batch tomorrow afternoon I decided to share a few of my tips & best practices for cookie exchanges! Hopefully it helps any newcomers  to a cookie exchange or any of you on the fence about starting this fun tradition!

The goal behind a Christmas Cookie Exchange is for each of guest to bake one kind of cookie each and then everyone comes together to celebrate the season and still manage to leave the party & go home with a variety of cookies without the extra effort! Plus it makes a fun and yummy excuse to get together during the holidays and helps you have a variety to fill those last minute cookies trays to take to all your Christmas festivities! The exchange cookie for the other one I attend is my family’s spritz recipe passed down from my great grandma, an absolute Christmas staple in our home and a recipe I will not share but most families have a version of it and if all else fails scope out Pinterest or Google for a suitable alternative! I will bake my Pecan Fingers, staple #2 for this exchange next week! You will find that recipe at the end of this post for your enjoyment. I enjoy these with my morning coffee in the days after the holidays to stretch the season out a little longer.

Here are my top 5 tips for pulling off a successful baking session SPECIFICALLY for a Cookie Exchange

1- Decide on a cookie you are comfortable with and feel capable of achieving without adding too much stress & chaos, the point is to join a cookie exchange to save you stress without sacrificing variety with your cookie baking during an already busy time of year! I like to choose a cookie with a pretty good # yield per batch to eliminate a bunch of ingredient multiplying or tons of batches needing to be separately prepped & baked. Less room for error and an easier process for you!

2- Plan to have a window of time within 2-5 days of the party to do your baking to ensure you are swapping the freshest cookies possible because freshest is bestest! 😍🍪😍🍪😍 depending on the cookie you choose, you may be able (or need to) prep a dough and let it rest, this may help break up the task (if need be) and allow you to have some work done ahead of the actual baking day!

3- Be sure to mark your calendar to attend because the main reason I began hosting one annually was to have a fun & functional holiday excuse to get together for fun & laughs with my girl friends & family! Attending is far more than half the fun I PROMISE! Games, food and a white elephant gift exchange that guarentees laughs!

4- Once you pick a cookie and decide on a safe and airtight way to seperate your cookie by the dozen for exchange (ziplock bags, plastic container, tin, or gift box ect.) Then you are ready to bake & bag! Preheat the oven, Gather ingredients, Wash hands, Don the apron to save your outfit, Turn the Christmas music on & bake away! Again try to pick a low mess & low fuss cookie to prep, bake & decorate!

5- Once cooled prep for bagging & set aside in a safe place away from all kids & husbands until it’s party time! 🎊🎈🎊 When party time arrives kiss the fam goodbye, don’t feel guilty & come have so much fun you never want to miss a year!

 

Pecan Fingers

*Preheat oven to 350*

  • 1/2 # Margarine (softened)
  • 6 Tablespoon Confectioners Sugar
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Finely Chopped Pecans

Cream together the softened margarine & sugar. Begin to add the flour gradually, once all flour is incorporated add the chopped nuts be sure to mix well. Once all ingredients are blended shape the dough into finger sized and shaped cookies and place on an un-greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 mins. Once the cookies are cooled entirely place them a few at a time in a shallow bowl of powdered sugar and coat each finger. Enjoy with coffee, tea or milk & store any remaining Pecan Fingers in an airtight container.

Pecan Fingers Printable Recipe Card

 

As a BONUS little added tradition, because I am all about traditions new and old  (especially this time of year!) last year just before Christmas and my 1st annual cookie exchange, I told my husband that I wanted to start a Christmas Cookie Jar collection so that I can have a variety to decorate my kitchen for the holidays and double purpose to store all my delicious Christmas cookies from this cookie exchange and other holiday traditions! Some day when my girls have homes I can pass one down to each for them to decorate the kitchen counter too!

Last year one of my gifts was a fun Santa Lumberjack Cookie Jar, this is one of my hopes for this year. But more than a new cookie jar this year, I want YOU to join in on this fun Cookie Exchange Tradition in your own bubble! Be sure to follow my blog page so you don’t miss any future recipe’s, tips, tricks or best practices to dazzling your way through the holiday season this year and for seasons to come!

 

HAPPY BAKING my DAZZLING friends! As always, thanks for reading and I hope it inspires you to start or join a Christmas Cookie Exchange so that you can be apart of a beautiful & fun tradition like this!

~Rebecca

 

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To Do List Tuesdays

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In an effort to get myself into a consistent pattern of writing this summer and do a better job of continually updating my blog with current & relevent posts through our summer adventures, I have created a blogging schedule that will be producing several different blog series within different themes to be released on each day of the week through out this entire summer. It will be a challenge, I am sure I will stumble, but over-all it is in an effort to follow God’s will for me and my writing and share my fun ideas & occasional anecdote with you all. You may have seen my previous blog posts about some of those other blog series’ like

12 Weeks of Virtues Summer 2017 Challenge and Mindset Mondays, well I decided Tuesday’s I would write a short blog about something in my To-Do List. This may be any number of things, but it won’t be a terribly long blog and it will tackle something on my “to do list” for the week. A project, a chore, a task, ect. if you have anything on your to do list you would like helpful tips or advice tackling ask away and I will do my best!

My first To Do List Tuesday Topic is…

Summer Freezer Meal Planning!

I love to cook but during the summer I hate to be in the kitchen too long, and we are typically so busy that I need to be prepared in advance or we will go broke by the end of summer eating out or making a million trips to the store in a month wastefully buying a few days at a time. After I discovered this past fall that with some planning and a little prep, my husband and I were perfectly capable of prepping 40+ freezer meals for our family of 6, I knew I needed to apply this same method to a summer menu to stock up for June & July at least.

When my husband and I tackled this meal prep project back in the fall (just before I restarted my blog) we prepped over 40 freezer meals across 2 days of actual prep & assembly and one full day of grocery shopping. Essentially 3 days took the hard work of making dinner out of our lives across about 43 meals. Most of the meals had leftovers which doubled as second dinners or lunches for my husband or myself. With the addition of the handful of times that we still went out to eat or ordered in for something special during the fall and winter, we didn’t use the very last freezer meal until February of this year (which wound up being very helpful through our challenging start to the year with two close losses; Heartbroken…. When heartbreak strikes again…too soon ) All together because of a little planning and some thought out prep & help from the hubby with assembly, 3 days of work translated to almost 90 days not having to stress over making dinner in the think about it, find the right ingredients, prep and assembly sense. In most cases they were crock pot meals with very minimal day of effort needed and no more advance thought than the night before to pull them out & thaw.

My To Do List Task for this week (aside from preparing for my youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday & Memorial Day cookout) is to begin gathering recipe’s that will be quick and easy to prepare, allow easy addition of fresh seasonal produce, feed at least 6 people and can be mostly prepped ahead and frozen. If you have any recipe’s you love during the summer months please feel free to share! Here are the few recipe’s I began gathering so far this evening.

Freezer to Grill Shish Kebobs

Ranch Burgers

Buffalo Chicken Wraps (I have used this freezer recipe before and it is one of my favorite, especially for summer!)

Slow Cooker Pineapple Pepper Chicken Stew

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Buffalo Chicken Wraps recipe and picture courtesy of Once A Month Meals

Friendly tip…one of my favorite places to go for recipes of any kind but specifically freezer recipes is : Once A Month Meals, they have an enormous selection of great recipes with tips on how to properly prep for the freezer. They have an incredible team of contributors who track down some great recipes and test them and you can even join as an official member to take advantage of their shopping lists, ingredient prep steps & menu planning tools available.

I look forward to sharing with you the full meal plan & prep day process documented in a future blog! Also as we get closer to fall I will be turning our previous freezer meal experience that I spoke of earlier, with you into blog form as well because I did photograph our fun & I still have those meal plan documents saved!

Again if you have any recipes for summer that we may love please share those ideas below in the comments! I would love to try some of your favorite go to summer dishes! Alright now off to the rest of my “To-Do List” items for the week! My kids start summer break in just one day! Go forth and get ready for your summer but don’t forget to check back for more of our adventures!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca