Hosting a Cookie and Candy Exchange

A NEIGHBORLY cookie and candy exchange saves you lots of time in the kitchen while giving you a chance to gather with family and friends. Hosting such an event is easier than you think with these timely tips:

Select a date and send out the invitations about 6 weeks in advance. Weekday evenings or weekend afternoons work well because people may be less busy. Schedule the party to be about 2 hours long so guests aren't required to set aside a lot of time.

Invite 8 to 12 people, keeping in mind that having more guests results in more variety of treats. Make the same kind of cookie or candy, allowing 1 dozen for each person participating. You might also encourage them to bring an extra dozen for sampling at the party.

Ask what each person is making to avoid duplicates. Theres no point to the exchange if everyone arrives with sugar cookies.

Have participants bring empty containers or resealable plastic bags to collect their goodies. If the gathering is small, they may want to bring the batches already individually wrapped. Also have guests bring a copy of their recipe for each person.

You can keep your menu to a minimum by focusing on the sweet treats. Simply serve a selection of beverages and the extra cookies and candies. Or if you prefer, offer a few hot and cold appetizers.

As people arrive, set out the cookies and candies on a long table, leaving enough room for folks to walk around. Label the containers with the recipe name.

Near the end of the party, have guests fill their containers with a dozen of each kind of cookie and candy.

For party favors, gather all the different recipe cards into bundles, tie with festive ribbons and hand them out as guests leave.