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Celebrating a longtime tradition of friendship and a love of cookies
Walking into the Moore family household on Christmas delights all of the senses with the smell of cookies baking and the house decorated head to toe in holiday fashion. We pride ourselves on being glorified Christmas elves and an even merrier bunch during the holidays. One reason is our party planning nature kicks in and we start scheming up new ways to make our annual Cookie Exchanges even better than the year before—even when that process starts as early as August!
My mother, Kathy, and her friends started this cookie tradition in 1988 and passed it along to our younger generation. For 28 years, they have prepared a lovely lunch, baked countless plates of cookies and celebrated the season. Their cookie parties are the Southern woman’s dream, each preparing an array of cookie tins to display their creations and dole out to their fellow bakers.
My mom's first party was held at Carol Kunkle’s home with six ladies participating. Every year since then the ladies take turns hosting the annual event. Each baker will take home individual containers that showcase their cookies for the year. A yummy lunch is provided by the hostess and the annual present exchange sometimes gets a little crazy as the ladies steal each other’s gifts as they are opened.
This year will mark the 16th year of my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange. I have been throwing this party for my friends since we were in eighth grade and surprisingly, the anticipation of this confectioner’s party is heightened each year.
So what is a Cookie Exchange? For my party, each guest is asked to bring three dozen cookies as well as a small wrapped gift for a Chinese Present Exchange. During this holiday celebration, guests will take home a mountain of cookies on a plate, eat lots of festive foods and play party games.
While everyone participates in the cookie trading, once the business part is over, the games and prizes are really what everyone enjoys. Our reindeer games differ every year from minute-to-win-it inspired games to groups building the best snowman using one of the group members. The winners get prizes to take home and these girls get competitive.
The Cookie Queen is the overall winner of the party. Sometimes it’s for the best cookies, sometimes for the party games, or maybe I just rig it to pick who I want—it’s my party after all. The Cookie Queen is deemed the reigning “queen of cookies” for the year and is presented a large box with a costume inside. They have to wear the attire in the box as well as take lots of pictures that quickly go up on Facebook sans their permission.
In years past, I’ve had a Santa in a sequined suit who gave out candy canes to the neighbors, a Christmas tree where we actually plugged her into the wall, and, one of my favorites, a reindeer with panty hose on her head and red and green balloons filling each leg. As one can probably imagine, the photos are priceless and generally used as holiday blackmail instead of an award of any kind.
After all the silliness and especially the famous sugar-filled punch we drink every year, the parties boil down to an amazing few hours spent with lifelong friends. Christmas is meant for spending time with your loved ones and I really think that is the draw of hosting a party like this. We may not see each other every day but everyone makes a point to attend the Cookie Exchange to catch up on all of life’s adventures, as well as enjoy some pretty “sweet” memories.
Even though the party celebrates friendship, my main joy is to have been able to throw this party with my mother for 16 years. We’ve spent every year planning, baking and hosting this event together and those memories will be some of my most cherished times that can never be spoiled or expire. From the Moore family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas, as well as inspiration to start your own tasty tradition!