Having moved to Chappaqua just a few years earlier, I wanted to find a different way to throw a holiday party. So, I came up with the idea of throwing a Cookie Exchange. I looked at every magazine to research how to throw a Cookie Exchange party, and then devised my rules, which included, at that time, each person having to bake six dozen cookies, and sent out invites to 20 friends.
That first year, the ice gods of the Northeast decided to visit us during the party and my long, uphill driveway became a hazardous, sliding terror. My husband walked everyone down to their cars, holding the traded cookies in addition to our guests arms, to make sure there were no accidents–with cookies or appendages.
That first Cookie Exchange took place 18 years ago and it has grown into a party of between 60-70 guests. My dining room table has every leaf in it and the cookies barely fit, especially when bakers, like Cindy Greenstein, make an amazing yet giant cookie quilt. Prizes are awarded to the best tasting, most creative looking, best presentation and Michele’s choice, usually given to a newbie. Lisa Avramovitz and Georgia Frasch have won the most times, as both their decorative cookies and presentation astound everyone.
We have had our excitement over the years. There was the year that someone said their butter looked weird when they were baking and the cookies they brought were green, when no food coloring was used. Another year, one of the guests somehow took someone else’s white minivan home and, after an hour of phone calls, she embarrassingly brought back the car and took her own white minivan home. And, yet another year, my son and his teenage friends ate so many cookies as judges, that we had to banish them to our basement so that there would actually be enough cookies to be exchanged.
And what about my friends who are just horrible bakers? They attend but are encouraged not to bake because it is in the best interest of attendees not to eat anything they would attempt to make. So, they bring wine.
This year’s bakers will only make four dozen cookies. Still, there will be no slice and bake cookies, no cookies from a mix or ones that have been purchased. My son will be home from college to do the judging along with several others. And, many families in town will enjoy a cornucopia of cookies, at least for the weekend.