There’s a good chance that when you visit friends and family this time of year you’re bound to smell sweet, fresh-baked aromas as you walk through the door. Of course we’re referring to Christmas cookies! At this point in the season, cookies are being produced at a rapid pace across the country and around the world where cookies are popular.
In fact, the word cookie has its origins in the Dutch word “koekje,” which means “a small cake.” While cookies reportedly date back to the 7th century A.D., it was a little later on – around the 14th century – that we have recipes out of Paris and England detailing how to make the “small, fine cakes” we now call cookies.
Cookies gained in popularity throughout the ages not just because of their sweet goodness, but because they are the ideal traveling food. Packed well, cookies can maintain their freshness for days. Fast forward several hundred years and we’re still baking cookies to delight the taste buds and to pack as gifts and treats for each other.
Cookies Can Bring Families and Neighbors Together
For many people it’s not just about receiving cookies that make the holidays so enjoyable, it’s about sharing, too! Many families have traditions that include gathering in the kitchen to bake cookies together while chatting, laughing and participating in the sheer fun of creating “small cakes” with mouthwatering ingredients like chocolate, butter (lots of it!), cinnamon, jelly, and almonds.
Other people participate in a variation on the group baking event and choose instead to host a cookie exchange. With a cookie exchange the baking is all done in advance. So if you’re hosting, what you will want to do is invite those people in your neighborhood or family/friendship circles who enjoy baking–and baking well!
Request that each invitee make a sufficient supply of one type of cookie that they can then share with the group. Make it easy for sharing to happen by preparing a large, festive table or countertop area that’s ready to receive plates of cookies. Once all your guests have arrived, they will then have the opportunity create their own package of assorted cookies to take home and to share with their families and friends.
Here are some tips to make your cookie exchange a success:
- Provide paper plates, tins, or boxes for guests to use in the packaging of their cookies.
- For a fun twist, create a wrapping station complete with paper and decorating items so your guests can wrap their cookie boxes and leave with a readymade Christmas gift.
- Another nice touch would be to create place cards for each type of cookie brought by your friends to the exchange. For example you might have “Short-bread cookies by Mary-Catherine” on a small card placed in front of the plate of short-bread.
If you’re new to a neighborhood and want to break the ice with your neighbors, hosting a cookie exchange might be just the activity to host!
So, how are cookies part of the holiday tradition in your family or community? Please share your experiences in the comment section below to help others create and enjoy great cookie traditions in their own homes.