Woodland And Buffalo Plaid Themed Cookie Exchange

This party has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HostingHacks #CollectiveBiasScreen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.28.43 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.23.26 PM Hosting A Cookie Exchange

Creating a warm, welcoming environment where my friends can mingle and enjoy a night in is a passion and honestly, it’s my thing. One of my personal preferences whenever I host a party is to have real dishes, glasses, table clothes and napkins. It just feels more intentional than paper and plastic (plates and utensils) and it also adds that personal touch that is my signature style. With the holidays right around the corner, it’s a great time to gather everyone together and create lasting memories and friendships.

Every year, I host an annual Christmas cookie exchange to celebrate this wonderful time of year. It’s a time for the ladies in my neighborhood to come over, visit with each other and share their favorite (or try new) cookie recipes. The exchange is simple, bring a plate of cookies and take a variety of new cookies home. I also encourage all of my guests to share their recipes for the yummy treat they brought. I used to provide piles of recipe cards for each person to copy their favorites and write out all the recipes they would want to take and try out at home. Then I realized if each person wrote down her own recipe on a large card, we could take a photo of each with our cell phones and not have to worry about writing multiple recipes out, brilliant right? Speaking of trying new recipes, be sure to check out my snowflake cookie tutorial (at the bottom of this post.)Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 10.01.04 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.19.01 PMThe Theme

Plaid is one of those holiday patterns I’ve avoided in the past. Normally when I would pick out my Christmas decorations, I’d lean toward very glamorous and glittery themes with lots of silver and gold. I thought plaid was too basic and a little boring, so I avoided it. This is the first time I’ve ever used plaid in my Christmas decor and shockingly, I love it. The buffalo plaid, woodland elements, red poinsettias, and red ornaments really came together well. I really love how this party theme turned out.
Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.27.27 PMI also loved the last minute idea of placing a wreath over my microwave. I’m not sure where the idea came from, (it was just something that popped into my head so I wanted to try it out) it ended up really looking great. To hang it, I just tied a ribbon through the top and hung it on the cabinet handles.Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.10.22 PMThe Prep

When using real dishes and linens you’ll need to make sure to arrange time for care and cleaning that need to take place before and after each party. Making sure the glasses are streak-free and the linens are properly cleaned and pressed are a big part of my party prep. I would be so embarrassed to give my guests streaky glassware or stained linens, which is why I have to use products that work right the first time. I always use Cascade action pacs for my dishes, it’s actually the specific brand my dishwasher recommends for best use. For the cleanest and best smelling laundry, I use Downy Unstopables (one try and you’ll be hooked!) and Tide Pods. I did all of my party and prep shopping at Costco because they sell the brands I know and trust for the best price. Make sure to check out all of their quality products here, so you won’t be caught without this holiday season.Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 7.41.20 PMAnd now for the cutest sugar cookies you’ll ever see. I have to thank my sweet daughter for choosing the hot pink color, I would have gone with blue, but I’m really happy with how cute and girly they turned out. This tutorial could be done with any color combination you can dream up. Make sure to have Bounty paper towels handy when frosting, it’s super important to always keep the tip of your piping bag clean.
Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.49.37 PMSnowflake Sugar Cookie Frosting

Ingredients: 1 cup powdered sugar – 1 to 2 tbs water – food coloring of choice.

Directions: Place powered sugar in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix. If it’s clumpy, slowly add more water 1/4 tablespoon at a time, or until it’s a thick liquid consistency. Add food coloring as desired, keep in mind that the food color may change the consistency so you may need to add more powdered sugar. Place the colored frosting in a squeeze bottle. Make another batch of white frosting, place in a piping bag with a small tip. This works very well on your favorite round sugar cookie. Watch this stop-motion video of me decorating one HERE.Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.58.50 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.58.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.57.27 PMWhen setting up your work station, make sure to have a roll of Bounty paper towels to keep your piping bag clean. If you aren’t wiping off excess frosting, it can make frosting the cookie very messy and hard to handle.
Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.50.53 PMUsing the squeeze bottle of colored frosting, create a large outer circle (a dam) on all of the cookies you will be frosting. Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.51.10 PMAdd 1/4-1/2 tablespoons of water to the squeeze bottle and shake it up until fully incorporated. This will thin out the frosting to make filling easier. Remember, it should still be thick enough to cover the cookie. Fill all of the cookies, using the tip to remove any air bubbles. Allow 30 min for them to dry.Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.53.30 PMUsing the piping bag, and a paper towel to clean the tip, pipe three white lines across the cookie creating a “star” shape. The trick here is to use pressure when your piping and moving the bag, and circular motions and no pressure when you’re wanting to lift off.Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.55.25 PMOn each line pipe four little “leaves” on each side of the six lines. Repeat to all sides.
Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.50.14 PMFinish by piping a dot in the center of the snowflake, release pressure and using a circular motion lift off.

What are your favorite items for prepping for your holiday party? I hope your holiday cookie exchange is a night to remember and a breeze to clean up.

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