This is a sponsored post on behalf of Starbucks Coffee Company. All opinions, ideas, and photos are 100% my own. #starbucksdiscoveries #ad
Here is a good and bad of this holiday season: There are so many yummy treats to be had! I work with so many amazing bloggers and I am constantly seeing dessert after dessert that I just have to add to my Must Try list because they look THAT good. However, my waistline cannot handle a batch of every type of cookie I want to bake, which is why I love the idea of a Holiday Cookie Exchange Party!
A Holiday Cookie Exchange Party is the perfect way to try lots of yummy goodies and even leave with a large collection of lots of different kinds. I mean, who doesn’t love options when choosing a cookie to eat? Since I love this idea so much, I thought I would share a few easy tips for hosting your own party – so easy that you STILL have time to put one together. Believe me, if you say cookies, people will come running. I tested it for you!
So, now to the party!
Tip #1: Set The Stage
Setting the stage doesn’t mean elaborate decorations, though they can be fun. You will see in my pictures that all I did for decorations was put a piece of Kraft Paper behind the serveware with some painted snowflakes on it. This took me 10 minutes to put up and quickly decorate while giving it a warm and cozy feel compared to the plain white wall behind it.
What I REALLY mean by setting the stage is putting out dishes and serveware in advance. Since most of the food is being provided by others, having everything ready makes it easy for people to put out their cookies as soon as they enter the door. You don’t have to be digging around in the kitchen looking for plates when every single guest arrives, leaving you more time to have fun. Just make sure to put plenty of plates out and have a few tucked away in case you run out of space.
My favorite pieces to use for something like this are tiered pieces, like the 3 plate platter you see in the photos. I don’t have a ton of space in my apartment, so using these helps me save room while still providing more space for food. They also give the decor height, which is always a bonus!
Tip #2: Pick the Perfect Beverage!
Again, this party is supposed to be easy and about all things yummy, so a drink that also matches those things is important. For me, that choice is easy – Starbucks Discoveries Iced Café Favorites™. AND even better, there are special holiday flavors out right now – Peppermint Mocha and Gingerbread Latte.
Inspired by Starbucks handcrafted holiday classics, these festive beverages are made with brewed Starbucks espresso from 100 perfect arabica beans, reduced fat milk, and natural flavors. More simply – they are delicious! My absolute favorite is the Gingerbread Latte, and it’s made even better because I can pick it up at my local grocery store and bring it home. I love the convenience for myself and I love being able to offer my guests something special without a lot of work in the kitchen.
Tip #3: Goodie Bags
You definitely won’t be eating all of the cookies at the party, unless maybe you do (no judgement here), so you will want to make sure to provide some goodie bags for your guests. Again, this doesn’t have to be hard. I found some inexpensive but cute paper treat bags at Target in Christmas colors and then added the stickers you see in the photos. The stickers came from Crate and Barrel for $.99 and said things like Homemade with Love and Sweet Treats. There were even blank ones you could use for writing names on the bags.
Tip #4: Only Make One!
As the hostess, you are going to be tempted to make more than one cookie. You will feel that you need to go out of your way to make sure there is plenty of food, something for everyone, or any other excuse that runs through our heads when we have friends over. Stop!
The holiday season is busy enough without giving yourself more work. Make one cookie you love or one cookie you really want to try and take a breath. Your friends are bringing treats, too, and everyone will have fun.
I decided to try making an Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookie. They turned out fabulous! Way softer and chewier than the ones I remember, probably because they were usually store bought. I love store bought, I do, but a homemade cookie just can’t be beat! Look below for the recipe to this one because you will definitely want to give it a try at your cookie exchange.
Tip #5: Give the Recipe
Encourage everyone to print off a recipe card to their cookie recipe and include their name on it, too. It makes it easy for everyone to see what they are eating and who made it so they can give credit to the baker! From a practical standpoint, I love this idea in case anyone has allergies. If the recipe is there, it makes it very easy for someone to check it out before taking a bite.
On a sweeter note, you are essentially giving everyone a mini holiday cookie cookbook, which is a great holiday gift! It’s a party and gift in one!
Now, to the cookie recipe (which pairs amazingly with the Gingerbread Latte, for the record)!
- THE COOKIES:
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- Dash of ground cloves
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar (can use light)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- THE ICING:
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper so they are ready to go.
- Add the oats to a food processor and pulse 10-13 times. You are looking to break up some of the oats and get different textures, not pulse all the oats to a fine powder.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside for later.
- Using either a stand/hand mixer or your own arm muscles, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown and granulated sugars and mix until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat just until the yellow of the yolk is absorbed into the batter.
- Add small portions of the oat mixture to the butter mixture until blended, and then add more. Continue doing so until everything is fully incorporated.
- Using a tablespoon scoop, roll the dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms/edges just begin turning brown. Do not over bake as you don't want them to lose their chewiness.
- When you remove the pan from the oven, keep the cookies on the pan for another 5 and then move to a rack to cool completely.
- Prepare the icing by combing all 3 ingredients. I like to use a whisk.
- You have 2 options for icing the cookies. 1, place a small dollop of icing on each cookie and use a spoon to spread the icing out evenly on the cookie; or, 2, place the icing in a shallow container and dip the cooled cookies into the icing, letting the extra icing drip off.
- Let the icing set on the cookies before packaging, and then store in an airtight container or refrigerator.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Starbucks Coffee Company. All opinions, ideas, and photos are 100% my own.