Kitchens are beginning to smell like heaven as treats are prepared for the holidays. Many of my friends will soon participate in annual cookie exchange parties to share favorite recipes and goodies.
These cookie exchanges can be an intimate affair with just a handful of guests. As more lucky women make the guest list each year though, these nights can add time — and unneccesary stress — for a busy woman during a busy season.
One of my friends spends more than three days making multiple batches to bring along to the party she goes to. In between working, holiday shopping and her usual routine, she spends hours preparing her assembly line for the end result — almost 300 cookies for more than two dozen guests to take home in beautifully decorated (sometimes handmade) containers.
I must admit I hosted a very small cookie night a few years ago, and I'm not sure I will have one again once I learned the rules from veteran hosts. No chocolate chip cookies, no brownies, nothing out of a box.
There are ways around these events though. Several Decembers ago, I was talking with my co-worker about the Christmas holidays that were fast approaching. On that particular workday, she said she had to make sure she left work in plenty of time to make preparations for the cookie exchange party she was invited to attend that evening.
She said she was really looking forward to this event and rattled off some of her favorite holiday treats that she knew she'd be coming home with — gingerbread men, shortbread tidbits, linzer tortes, biscotti and the like. It was enough to make anyone's mouth water as she rattled off the list.
My cube mate was adamant that she had to be out by 5 p.m., no later. She explained that she needed enough time to stop at the bakery to pick up the decorated butter cookies she had ordered for the occasion.
No one ever told her they had to be homemade, she said with a smile, and raced out of the office with plenty of time to spare.
Now THAT's a great holiday recipe. Nobody said we have to be Martha Stewart!