I love the season leading up to Christmas. It’s the only time of year when I make all my favorite cookies, and then they’re gone before I know it! This year, I decided to do a Cookie Exchange. After starting to plan and looking into the details, I thought it might get a little expensive. So I began looking into ways to have a beautiful, fun party… on a budget.
First of all, I love to entertain, but I don’t like how expensive entertaining can be. I never pay full price for anything and I stockpile after each holiday! This is the easiest way to get a colorful stockpile of seasonal plates, napkins, and glasses. You can also find sale items throughout the year to store away as hostess gifts.
The best part of the cookie exchange is, of course, the sharing of cookies and recipes. Baking can get expensive if you don’t shop when baking ingredients go on sale. I always check the coupon database for coupons before I head out, and match up the coupons I find with store deals. I also try to make cookies that don’t cost much. One of the best ways to save on cookies is find a recipe that will let you be creative, but not break the bank with ingredient cost.
C&H Sugar has an amazing recipe that will get you a lot of bang for your buck. C&H Sugar’s 1001 Cookie Starter Mix is the secret to creating dozens of homemade treats, all from just five simple ingredients. The 1001 Cookie Starter makes 10 cups of dough that can be used right away, or can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to bake. Simply add your own ingredients to the mix and create your own special cookies! All the while, keeping an eye on your costs. Check out this simple recipe…
1001 Cookie Starter Recipe
- 5 cups – all-purpose flour
- 3 3/4 cups – C&H Pure Cane Granulated Sugar
- 2 tablespoons – baking powder
- 2 teaspoons – salt
- 1 1/2 cups – plus 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
In a 4-quart bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir until thoroughly blended. Add butter and use pastry blender or clean hands to work into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Makes 10 cups.
For best results:
- Be sure that your baking powder is less than a month old when putting together the mix.
- If using margarine, do not choose diet, whipped, or soft.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Do not press the mix.
- Let Cookie Starter Mix come to room temperature before use.
1001 Cookie Starter Contest
Now here’s your chance to show your creativity on a budget. Enter your recipe in the C&H Sugar Facebook page contest, and you can win a prize. The prizes include one grand prize baking gift basket valued at $350, and four runner-up prizes of baking gift baskets valued at $100 each! You will also receive a C&H® Sugar coupon and a promo code good for 40% off Chicago Metallic bakeware, just for entering your recipe.
I am sharing my Chocolate Crinkles that I’ll be making with the C&H recipe. Do you have a fun recipe to share? Head over to C&H on Facebook and enter your recipe for a chance to win one of the great prizes. The coupon alone is worth entering!
Here’s how I planned my cookie exchange…
- Invitations. Send out invites a month in advance, if possible. I invite a lot more people than I think may actually come. People get busy, and they’ll forget. A nice turnout of guests is anywhere from 10-20 people.
- Number of cookies. Ask each guest to make a “batch” of cookies. This is usually 3-4 dozen cookies. This seems like a lot of cookies. If you have a lot of guests, you can cut the number of cookies down as your guest count rises. But this way, everybody will go home with a couple dozen cookies, and have some extra to give as gifts. Ask guests in advance what type of cookies they will bring.
- Cookie cards. At the swap, put labels in front of each cookie plate. Write the name of the cookie and who made it on the card. For example: “Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Cam B.”
- Create a packaging station. Make sure you have enough tags, labels, ribbons, boxes, paper plates, scissors, cellophane, and anything else that might help with packaging up the cookies to go. I have boxes set up so people can have easy gifts to go! I get all of these items on clearance after each holiday. I have a fun variety for people to pick from, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money.
- Party extras. Figure out what you will be offering your guests. I set up a beverage table with wine, coffee, and sparkling punch. I also set up another area with cheese, fruit, crackers, dips, and one hot appetizer. By offering one hot appetizer, this keeps costs down, but still adds a nice touch to the appetizer selection. Do this in advance. You don’t want to be cooking while the party is going on.
- Be prepared the day of your party. Have all your platers and plates pre-arranged before your guests arrive. Set out the cookies at pre-arranged locations. I let everyone sample the treats and offer a prize for the best cookie. When it’s time to exchange, each person walks around the table to pick up their share of cookies. They can then take them home on simple paper plates, or package them specially at the packaging station.
- Small gifts. I offer my guests a fun gift to take home, something that costs very little, but has meaning. My guests will take home a tea towel, mixing spoon, and a cookie cutter. I was able to do this for less than $2.25 each by shopping the clearance sections and dollar stores.
Most importantly, have fun! I’ve read so many “rules” and “what not to do’s.” I toss everything out the window the night of the party so we can all have a fun time. After all, what can go wrong when you have all your favorite friends and cookies in one place!
This is a guest post from my FugalDay.com site.
Disclosure: We were provided a complimentary (or discounted) product or service and/or given compensation in exchange for our thoughts about it.
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