Holidays sweetened with Cookie Exchange

“Cookie Monsters” Peggy Villagomez, Adele Ferrell, Janice Stanton, Diane Fike, Colleen Jordan and Vicki Baker

“Cookie Monsters” Peggy Villagomez, Adele Ferrell, Janice Stanton, Diane Fike, Colleen Jordan and Vicki Baker

Vicki Baker

The most wonderful time of the year brings the most anticipated parties of the year. We’re not talking cocktails or dinners. We’re talking cookies—holiday cookies! One of the holiday traditions most eagerly awaited was the baking of Christmas cookies and candies and the annual Cookie Exchange Party hosted by Peggy Villagomez.

Invited bakers and sweet enthusiasts joined in the fun and delicious cookie exchange to welcome in the holiday season. The house was decorated from top to bottom, and Bing was crooning in the background as we all arrived with a large batch of made-from-scratch cookies, candy or other festive treat. For a few winter hours sweet treats were our sole focus as we went gaga over cookies and candies.

This was a sweet time for fellowship and laughter as refreshments were served. All those sweets were offset by a variety of savory foods and holiday beverages: homemade potato soup, fiesta corn dip, petite cranberry and cream cheese sandwiches and sparkling wine.

After everyone had eaten and socialized a bit, Peggy called the group to order, and we gathered in the dining room where the cookies had been laid out with place cards identifying each treat. We oohed and aahed over the decorated cookies. The table looked beautiful with all the colors, fragrances and trays covered in gingerbread cookies, decadent chocolates and fragrant crescents, every conceivable round, bar or log dusted, laced, sparkled, twisted or snowflaked.

While the cookies at the exchange are mostly meant to be taken home, of course there was plenty of sampling during the party and some friendly competition. Winners were determined by votes cast:

Most creative – Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups by Diane Fike

Most festive – Sugar Plum Shortbread Christmas Cookies by Debbie Baronet

Best tasting – Salted Caramel Brownie Bites by Peggy Villagomez

When the actual cookie swap happened we were elbow to elbow with our empty platters and slowly went around the table selecting five to six cookies from each plate. By the time we rotated around the table a few times, the cookies were gone! Once the swap ended we continued to celebrate in another delicious way—sharing our cookie recipes, which were assembled in a booklet for everyone to take home.

Between all the shopping, parties, wrapping, decorating and travel, most of us would put “more time” as the number one item on our holiday wish lists. We killed two turtledoves with one stone at the cookie exchange party—we traded batches of a single treat and ended up with a great new assortment of sweets. The get-together with friends for a fun fete and leaving everyone with enough baked treats for the rest of our holiday festivities was a terrific way to kick off the season and a delicious way to turn a memory making get-together into a beloved holiday tradition. And our wish for next year—to grow the cookie party bigger and better and share our holiday treats with those fighting their battle against cancer.