There’s a reason why I put the word EXCHANGE in all caps for this cookie exchange party headline. For the second year in a row, crafting superstar, Richard Garay and his wife, Gaby, of Fun Stampers Journey invited me to their annual Holiday Cookie Party. Last year I had to skip because Patrick and I were in Mexico. But this year, as soon as I received Richard’s happy invite, I RSVP’d! (Note: I’ll have party tips at the bottom of this post)
For the past month, I told all my friends and family how excited I was to attend a celebration themed around COOKIES! I imagined Richard’s house like a Willy Wonka wonderland of candy cane bark, chocolate chip nuggets of joy, chunky cubes of buttery shortbread. A total of 15 people would be in attendance – that meant 15 different types of cookies!
By last Wednesday, I had planned out my outfit and selected one of my handmade ornaments for Richard. On Friday afternoon I gathered up all my items for our annual vending booth at Crafeteria. It would be our last show of the season, and what a great way to close it out, with a cookie party the next day!
But right before I left, I noticed an email from Richard about the next day’s party.
“Hi Kathy! The final count for the exchange is eight dozen cookies.”
At first I thought, “Wow, I’m going to come home with eight dozen cookies? It’s like Halloween for Christmas, and you only have to go to one house!” And then I paused. I reread his message and noticed the word EXCHANGE.
“What?” I thought. Then I looked up at the party invite and sure enough it read, Holiday Cookie Exchange Party. My chubby girl excitement had only focused on HOLIDAY COOKIE PARTY. All the glittery party streamers and balloons surrounding that phrase had blocked common sense from entering my noggin. I am such a dork. I told my sister and she was not surprised. “That is typical Kathy,” she told me.
Bottom line? I would return home from vending a long night at Crafeteria at around 11:30 p.m., then would have to crank out 100+ cookies (I would have to bake extra for the family, of course!). I accepted my fate. I would work that batter until sunrise if I had to! But once I walked through the door after Crafeteria, exhausted, I opted to rise with the roosters and bake the cookies in the morning, and hopefully make it to the party by noon.
And then I overslept.
Plan B. *smile*
I hopped in the car, peeled out of the driveway and hit up La Purisima Mexican Bakery! I figured if any place would have nine dozen cookies ready to go, it would be them.
As I drove there, I planned out using small cake boxes with an arrangement of cookies in each one, topped with yarn and an ornament. I vowed to make up for my lack of personal homemade eats with personal homemade decorations.
And that’s just what I did! I set up an assembly center in my art studio and prepped all the boxes.
These cookies were humungus. And they smelled like Heaven trimmed in butter.
Instead of six cookies in each box, I lowered it to four because of the size. And I used tissue paper as a liner. I love these Mexican cookies because each one is so lovely. Look, that pecan cookie is brushed with egg glaze for shine!
By the time I finished, I had so many of them I had to use our Christmas tree box to transport them to the party. Patrick was all, “Bring back the box, we need it for the tree!”
I arrived just in time for the party to start. I’m sooo happy I took the time to make these pretty. You should have seen what the other cookie presentations looked like. Wait, I happen to have pictures!
See? Stimulation overload! So pretty! Look at the shortbread cookies. Florentina made those, they are made with rosemary and she stamped the top of each one.
And these are just a few of the offerings!
Here is Richard, he snapped a picture of us! You can see how happy I am because not only would we be eating cookies, but also crafting!
Each party guest had a craft area all prepped and ready!
Here’s my finished set of wood block houses. We used all Fun Stampers Journey supplies, a first for me. While I was there, Richard invited me to be a guest for one of his YouTube videos, I’ll share it when he posts it! We had a couple hours to finish our project and then it was time for the cookies!
Here is one of each of the cookies. We had to vote for three winners: Best Taste, Best Presentation, Most Creative.
This is my situation after tasting all those cookies. LOL, I’m dramatic! I saved up most of my week’s WW points for this experience, no regrets. It was everything I dreamed of and more. And in the end, we took home one of each gift boxes of cookies.
Here’s a picture that Richard posted on his Facebook page. It shows a lot of detail!
OK, here are tips I learned from the experience, Richard and his wife, Gaby, did a fabulous job, so I thought I’d share in case you want to host a cookie exchange party too!
- Have an invite page. I loved this because we could see all the details. I wish I had looked at it sooner, I would have noticed that everyone posted what kind of cookie they were baking. That’s helpful because you can make sure everyone bakes something different, so you’ll have variety!
- I loved that Richard sent us all reminders the day before!
- The crafting element made the experience even more fun. Richard suggested we gift our item to someone else to spread holiday cheer! I gave mine to one of my Snapchat followers.
- When everyone arrives, set out all the cookies and put a display card/number by each display. Have a voting sheet for each of the categories you are judging for.
- Notate the cookie displays that have nuts, in case some people have allergies.
- We were to bring six cookies in each box. You can adjust this however you want.
- Have your guests supply the recipe for their cookie. Some people at Richard’s party were very creative and incorporated the recipe into the packaging design!
- Have coffee, cocoa, tea on hand to serve with the cookies!
- Maybe set up a photo wall for pictures!
- Once you take all those cookies home, they are packaged so pretty, you can give them to friends and family!
Thank you so much to Richard, Gaby and the Fun Stampers Journey team for inviting me, I had such a fun time!Love & light,