Its cold, its blowing, there’s snow on the ground, ice on the windshields and us summer lovers need to keep looking for things to keep us occupied until we can dig in the dirt. Now that all the holiday hustle and bustle is over, we are getting ready for our New Years Eve parties, lets think food… cookies particularly today! Forget the resolutions and enjoy life… like a wise one once wrote, “Life is short, eat desert first!” The gyms and the weight loss programs are gonna be there next week… so just have some good, homemade fun with friends you enjoy being around!
What could be more fun than gathering together with a group of our close friends and family when you include cookies and lunch? Well of course the getting ready for it… making the invitations, decorating the tables, preparing the food and baking those pretty cookies. Not to mention buying just the right containers for your guests to package up all your love in!
How many cookies do I tell my friends to make? This is usually the hardest part to decide. You don’t want to overwhelm your friends and family, yet you want a decent amount of cookies to keep. Here are two simple ways to decide how many.
1. If you are having a small group of say 6-10 friends, then simply tell them to make a dozen per person. So if you invite 6 people,plus yourself tell everyone to make 7 dozen cookies. This will give everyone there a dozen of each variety.
2. If you are having a larger group of a dozen or more then choose a comfortable number to bake; when you know how many guests are planning on attending you will take the number of dozens and divide by the number of guests. That will give you the number of how many cookies each person will get. So, if you choose to have every one make 12 dozen cookies and you are planning on 20 guests you will take 12 dozen multiplied by 12 cookies= 144 cookies divided by 20 guests = 7.2 cookies of each variety for each guest. With the odd number you can figure there will be a few extras… take those and make a plate for a friend that maybe wasn’t able to attend, or give to an elderly neighbor.
*My personal recommendation is stick to 8-10 guests. This keeps it quaint and personal, especially in the cold months where we are going to be inside. If you are going to plan this for the warmer months and do it outside, then go big!
The Invitation will set the whole tone for your Cookie Exchange…it needs to be cute, fun and inviting! Here are a few idea’s to make it super special!
~Be sure to invite your guests at least two to three weeks in advance. This will give them time to find the perfect containers. Have your guests include a copy of the recipe on a recipe card for each guest with their name and date on it. Be sure to stress that they would be so extra special if they are hand written. A friends hand writing is so special…
~Mini cookie cutters make invitations a keepsake too! Tie unto the front of the invitation with a length of raffia or ribbon.
~Be sure to include that you are each to bring the cookies in containers ready for each guest… give some suggestions (see below). Tell them how many cookies to put for each guest.
~If you are a Stamper or Scrapbooker, then you probably have oodles of supplies and ideas. If you are having a theme, New Years, Holiday, Winter, Think Summer in January (my personal choice), Tropical/ Hawaiian, Vintage Kitchen (my second choice) or whatever you choose- make your invitation to reflect that theme. Be sure that you let your guests know this theme in the invitation.
~Use vintage postcards; put all the info on the back of card.
~Use die cuts that are the shape of cookies that would fit your theme; get a rubber stamp that has Invitation info on it; or print off your computer with a cute font.
~Photo Greeting Cards make beautiful invites as well. Take a photo of your cookie, a bowl full of vintage cookie cutters or whatever your theme might be. Have enough 4×6 prints made for the amount of invitations you need. Crop about an inch off the photo and then adhere to a piece of card stock. Too cute!
~Be sure to include how many dozen they are to make and remind them that they are to be all the SAME KIND of cookie or bar.
A couple great sites for Card Making ideas are:
Setting The Table:
The cookies are the stars of the table but you can certainly add some festive cheer by adding those special decorative touches! Here are a few ideas for the table:
~Take large, clear cookie or Apothecary jars and fill with brightly colored glass ornaments.
~Scatter vintage style postcards over the table.
~Set one bowl upside down and then place another really cool old stoneware bowl on top of it carefully, then fill with cookie cutters.
~Use blue mason jars with tea lights in them to add charming light.
~As a center piece, use a large old crock and put baking utensils in it… rolling pin, whisker, wooden spoons, etc. If you have one of those old metal sifters, graters, etc. add those too!
~Display a row of old mixing bowls lined with checked linen napkins or doilies and fill with assorted cookies for munching.
~Use cake stands, stacked or singly, to display pretty tarts and bars along with old fashioned ribbon candy.
~If you happen to have a chandelier or even a ceiling fan above the table, decorate it with greenery and colorful berries and hang vintage cookie cutter from it.
~Be sure to have little tent cards for each guest to write their name and the variety of cookie or bar on; place in front of their stash!
~Guest Book: If you keep a guest book, be sure to write the date and the event name & theme. Have each guest sign their name and the kind of cookie or bar they brought.
Here is a simple yet elegant and fun menu! Think finger foods.
~Have luncheon size plates ready for guests, along with pretty napkins to match your theme. Have tea in pots with pretty tea cups; display several varieties of tea in a basket lined with a pretty linen napkin; put sugar, honey and cream in pretty bowl & pitchers; have several tea cups and saucers available. Put coffee in pretty carafes;
~Coffee and Tea of course. Make a punch as well. I have a beautiful clear glass 5 gallon jug that I use at my parties. Use what you have. Use food coloring to make your punch the right color to fit your theme.
~Little Sandwiches~ Take white, whole wheat and rye breads; cut off crusts; cut several with cookie cutters and leave some whole; use tuna salad, chicken salad and yummy cucumber cream cheese mixture for the fillings; use two different breads to make sandwiches so they are colorful; for the whole slices, cut them in an ‘X’ to make triangle shaped sandwiches; stack on cake plates. Be sure to cover just before serving so bread doesn’t get crunchy!
~Roll Ups- take soft flour tortilla’s, spread cream cheese in a thin layer; lay single slice of ham to cover tortilla; roll up and then slice into 1″ pieces. Place on pretty platters.
~Cheese Ball and crackers
~Fruit bowl- mixed fruit always adds charm to the table.
~Relish tray with raw veggies, olives and pickles with a veggie dip.
Take The Cookie Home Tips:
It’s fun to make your cookies ‘ready to go’… here are some really cute idea’s for containers you can give your friends!
~Metal Cookie Tins– these can be found by the hundreds at most Thrift stores. You can find every shape and size imaginable. The fun part will be finding a tin for each family or friend that just fits their personalities. It will then be a nice keepsake for them to remember the special day by.
again think Thrift shops! You can find gobs & gobs of them. Look for pretty linen napkins while your there to line the baskets. Again a useful keepsake that they can re-use.
~Cookie Jars- I’ll say it again, Thrift shops! There are endless lines of the cutest cookie jars that you will be able to choose one that is just right for each guest… and again useful and re-usable!
~Crocks, Platters or Mixing Bowls- Yes, thrift shops! So cheap yet so awesome. Your guests will think you went all out for them.
~ White or Craft Paper Bags;If you don’t want to go to that extreme, simply use white or craft paper bags; stamp a cute picture, use die cuts or stickers to decorate. Fold the bag down twice, punch two holes in the top and string raffia or twine through to secure the bag.
~Vellum bags would work the same as well. Top with a vintage post card for the gift card.
~If you have several extra Christmas ornament boxes, those would work great to stack the cookies in each divided section and then with the clear plastic lid, they will be able to see the lovely cookies.
~Take colored Cellophane paper; roll stacks of cookies in and tie the ends with ribbon, twine or raffia; tie a gift card on.
Here are a few Cookie recipes that our family enjoys!
Makes 14 Whoopie Pies
Here’s an all time favorite at our house!
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine milk and flour in a small saucepan. cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
Let cool; beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy; add vanilla. Gradually beat in milk mixture;beat on high for one minute, or until smooth and fluffy.
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
‘1 tsp.baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1. Beat together shortening, sugar, baking soda and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed; beat in buttermilk, egg and vanilla; set aside.
2. Stir together flower and cocoa; stir into shortening mixture.
3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until edges are firm; cool on wire racks. Cool on wire racks.
5. Spread 2 tbsp filling on flat side of cookies; top with another cookie, flat side on icing.
6.Store, covered, in a cool place or the refrigerator.
Enjoy these rich, peanut buttery balls dipped in milk chocolate!
Yields about 5-6 dozen
1 pound creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
12 oz. package milk chocolate chips
1/3 bar paraffin
1. Blend together peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar, mixing with hands.
2. Shape into one inch balls;chill.
#. Melt together chips and paraffin over hot water in a double boiler. Use a toothpick to dip each ball in chocolate, leaving a small spot uncovered. With the tip of a small knife, smooth over hole left by toothpick.
5. Arrange on wax paper lined baking sheet. Place in cool area or freezer to set.
Holiday Snack Mix
10 1/2 oz. package bite size crispy honey nut corn and rice cereal squares, like Chex cereals
8 oz package candy coated chocolates, like M&M’s
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisins, golden or red
12 oz jar dry roasted peanuts- salted
Mix all ingredients together; store in an airtight container.
Brown Sugar Shortbread Bars
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup brown sugar,packed
2 egg yolks
4 cups white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Cream sugar in butter and shortening; blend in egg yolks, salt and vanilla. Mix flour in thoroughly with hands, chill for 1 hour.
2. In a 10″x15″ ungreased bar pan, roll out dough evenly to fill pan. Sprinkle with sugar over entire top. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-17 minutes. Do not over bake.
3. Take out of oven and place on cooling rack; let cool 5 minutes; using a sharp knife, cut into pieces; let cool 20 more minutes. Take out of pan carefully; place on cooling rack for another 10 minutes. Place in air tight containers. Keeps in freezer for up to 3 months.
Tea Party Sugar Cookie Sunbonnets
This is a ‘decorating’ recipe!
Your favorite Sugar Cookie recipe
Your favorite decorators Icing
You need to decide how many bonnets you want and adjust your cookie and icing recipes to suit.
Cut out an even amount of 4 inch circles and 2 inch circles. Bake as directed in your recipe. Decide how many colors you want for your flowers,leaves, and ribbons on the sunbonnets.
Divide your icing into bowls accordingly. Leave enough for 12 heaping tsp.per 2 cookies (1 small and 1 large) of plain white. This is your ‘paste’. Put 1 heaping teaspoon of white icing on flat side of small cookie; gently press down on a large cookie until attached and sticks. do this to all of your cookies, until your have your desired amount of bonnets.
Mix/make your colored icing now. Pipe a ‘ribbon’ around the seam line of small and large cookie. You can make bows, streams, etc. Pipe on your flowers next; ten leaves. Let stand until firm.
These are a lot of fun to make and very special.
TIP: Remember, if you want several color ribbons and flowers, you will need to either have several tools, or plan out which ones will be what color, so you don’t have to keep changing your icing. Lots of work but well worth it!