Have A Calmer Christmas

Are you one of those people who already have a dozen varieties of treats baked and stored in the freezer in anticipation of your holiday entertaining? If so, I envy you. I love the idea of Christmas entertaining and by early November I am pouring over glossy magazines and beautiful blogs to pick out this year’s recipes, like these festive cranberry curd bars.

(Photo: The Kitchn)

But before I know it, I get caught up in the holiday craziness and end up rushing around to get cards mailed, invites sent, gifts purchased, and goodies baked. It all becomes so stressful that I can hardly enjoy the festivities.

(Photo: Big A little a)

While it sounds counter-productive, adding one extra party to your list can actually make your life less stressful. A cookie exchange is a wonderful way to see friends and fill your cookie jar at the same time. This weekend I invited seven baking buddies over and asked them each to bring four dozen cookies as well as copies of the recipes for each guest.

(Photo: Joey Roth)

I set out a cheese plate and some other no-cook nibbles and served warm cider and wine. This would also be a great occasion for tea, especially if you are lucky enough to own a stunning tea pot like this one by Joey Roth. For dessert, I simply set out a plate of cookies that were brought by my guests. At the end of the day, everyone got to take home a half dozen of each type of cookie.

(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

Not only did I get to spend a lovely afternoon with my girlfriends but I now have a cookie jar filled with delightful treats to serve at next week’s open house as well as seven new tried-and-true recipes if I need to whip up another batch.

(Photo: A Sonoma Garden)

If you want to make it extra special for your guests, you can wrap up your cookies in little boxes or even paper bags tied with some ribbon.

(Photo: Vintage Pretties)

If you aren’t a baker but still want to offer your guests something special, I think these Santa brownies are adorable. All you would need are some store-bought mini brownies, a jar of icing, and a pint of strawberries. Everyone will be too busy admiring them to even notice that the ingredients aren’t from scratch although if you have the time, Daisy’s recipe for mascarpone buttercream sounds delicious.

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