Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone we turn our attention to the winter holidays. That means lots of cooking, baking, cleaning, decorating, and shopping going on.  Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukka, or other winter holiday you’re probably wondering how you’re going to fit in all the seasonal activities.

One way to reduce your seasonal cookie baking is to have a cookie exchange and swap baked goods with friends and relatives.  I usually love to host an exchange, it’s a great excuse for a girls day or night out! But in these days of social distancing and limited contact hosting an exchange may not be possible. But that doesn’t mean friends and relatives can’t share the holiday baking load with a drop off cookie exchange.  It may take a bit more planning, but at least you’ll only have to bake one type of cookie and still have a variety to enjoy or gift over the holidays.

There’s really not much to having a Drop Off Cookie Exchange, just a bit of coordinating and if you’re really creative you can have a Zoom baking party! You know set a date and time when everyone involved can get together virtually while they bake, it might be fun!

Here’s a few tips to help you plan your Virtual Baking Party and Drop Off cookie exchange!

1.  Decide who you want to “invite”.

You may want to keep the party small and intimate to keep it manageable.  It’s probably not the right time to throw a zoom party with 50 of your friends and their families.

2.  Set your date and time.

Send out virtual invitations with the date, time, link to join, and ask guests to RSVP and tell you the type of cookie they plan to bake.   Knowing what type of cookie each guest plans to make will ensure that you have a variety of cookies. You can also ask each person

Ideally cookie swap invitations should be sent out a month before, but if you haven’t already done so, you should schedule it as soon as possible so guests can plan to attend. Everyone is busy during the holidays, if your guests are able to attend weekday events it may be easier to have your Baking Party during the week, otherwise you can schedule a weekend day at least a week before the holiday.

Before your Virtual Baking Party you’ll have to tell guests how many people will be participating and ask them to bake at least a half dozen cookies per guest.  The cookies must be packed separately for each participant, in many cases Ziplock bags will work.  They don’t need fancy packages because each participant may want to repack them with other cookies for gift giving.

3. Decorate the Kitchen.

Or which ever room you plan to be in during the Zoom Party.  Decorating the area you plan to be in sets a festive mood.  You might even want to have some cider or eggnog to sip on while you bake and chat.  Wearing something festive like a holiday apron adds a nice touch too!

4.  Bake your cookies and join your friends in a Zoom party.

You can make them well in advance and store baked cookies in the freezer, this way you can just chat with friends during the zoom party.  Or you can prepare the cookie dough in advance and just bake them during the party.

Cookie bars freeze and pack well as do chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, sugar, and snickerdoodles.  For a list of cookies that freeze well check out this article from aboutfood.com.
To learn how to freeze cookies click here!

5.  The star of the show are the cookies and the main event is the exchange.

Decide how you’re going to work the exchange during the party.  Will each person deliver a pack of cookies to each participant or would you prefer to set up a central pick up point where everyone can drop off and pick up cookies?  Decide on the date and time for the actual exchange and remember to practice social distancing and wear your mask.  We all want a safe and healthy holiday season!

Free Cookie Exchange Printables from How to Nest for Less

Caramel cookie bars are an excellent choice for a cookie exchange.  They’re simple to make and are really yummy.  You can dress them up for the holidays by adding sprinkles or other candies for a festive look.

Caramel Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Melted Butter

2 Cups Brown Sugar, packed

2 Eggs

2 Cups Flour

2 Tsp. Vanilla

2 Tsp. Baking Powder

1/4 Tsp Salt

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Spary a 9×13 pan with cooking spray

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine Sugar and Butter.

Add in eggs and vanilla.

Add in dry ingredients.

Mix until dough is well combined.

Spread into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until pick comes out clean.

Let cool and cut into bars.