How to Host a Cookie Exchange

I’ve been hosting a cookie exchange for 10 years, and it’s one of my favorite Christmas traditions!

A cookie exchange is an easy and inexpensive party to plan, and I’ve put together some ideas to get you started.

Cookie Exchange Invitation Ideas:

– A simple e-vite
– Hand deliver a cookie cutter with the invitation attached
– Turn a recipe card into an invitation
– Clearly state what to bring on the invitation.

Cookie Exchange Tips:

Be specific as to how many cookies and copies of the recipe your guests should bring. I ask my guests to bring 6 dozen cookies wrapped in packages of 4 with recipes attached…this number works well for a party of 18 – 30 guests. So, my guests come with 18 little packages and leave with an assortment of 18 little packages.

Why you should ask your guests to package their cookies? Cookies are easier to collect if they’re packaged, cookies are easier to transport if they’re packaged and it’s easy to attach a recipe to a package of cookies which eliminates the guesswork of which recipe goes with which cookie.

Why you might not want to ask your guests to package their cookies: time consuming, added expense. If you opt for packaging cookies, give your guests some suggestions: zip loc bags put inside a small gift bag, cellophane bags tied with a ribbon, zip loc containers tied with a ribbon or Chinese take-out containers. Ask your guests to bring a basket or container to collect their cookies in.

Cookie Exchange Menu:

We usually have our cookie exchange in the afternoon, so a few light appetizers are perfect! As guests arrive, have them open 1 package of their cookies on a tray to be enjoyed at the party. Poinsettia’s have become one of our Christmas traditions, and when you serve a signature cocktail, you eliminate the need to offer other alcoholic beverages.

Poinsettia Punch Recipe:

3 cups cran-raspberry juice
1/4 cup white grape juice concentrate, thawed (do not dilute)
1 bottle champagne (cheap is fine!)
1/4 cup Cointreau
1 liter lime sparkling water
Optional: frozen raspberries to float in the glass
Non-alcoholic version: eliminate the champange and Cointreau. Substitute 1 liter of Sprite.

Other Fun Cookie Exchange Variations:

Make it a mother/daughter event, and have crafts for the children! This year, the teen girls are going to make homemade sugar scrub to give their mothers. When the girls were younger, we made ornaments! Have an award for the best packaging, best looking cookie & best tasting cookie.

If you have a cookie exchange for a really large group (40+), skip the packaging and just let guests pick up a designated amount of cookies. Recipes can just be left next to each tray of cookies.

Teacher Cookie Exchange – have school volunteers bake cookies and let the teachers collect a nice assortment to take home for the holidays.

Now, what do you do with all those yummy cookies? Well, that’s another one of our Christmas traditions! We put all the little packages in the freezer, and each night during Christmas, our children take turns being in charge of making the cookie tray for dessert. It’s a dessert we all look forward to!

11 Things Small Business Owners Can Learn From Girl Scout Cookies

1. Train – The Girl Scouts use cookie sales to teach important life skills. Take advantage of the opportunity to develop your team members…or hire a coach to help you.

2. Start Early – The best cookie sellers start knocking on doors the first day, and deliver their cookies as soon as they arrive. “The early bird gets the worm” seems to work everywhere.

3. Know Your Value – Girl Scout Cookies taste good and you get to help kids in your community. Make sure you provide similar great value to your customers.

4. Remember Your Manners – As you learned as a girl (or boy), always say “please” and “thank you”…to customers (even when they don’t buy), vendors and your team members.

5. Dress The Part – Brownies and Girl Scouts take pride in wearing their uniforms. Make sure everyone in your small business knows they only get one chance to make a first impression.

6. Go Deep – Girl Scouts reach out to family, friends and, of course, their parents’ co-workers. Ask everyone you know for referrals to expand your prospect list and grow your business.

7. Up-Sell – Did you know Thin Mints and Caramel deLites are impulse buys? As you learned in that first retail job, always ask the customer if they would like a belt or tie with that shirt.

8. Differentiate – Girl Scout Cookies are available once each year, and you can freeze them. Can you express what makes your products/services stand out in 13 or fewer words?

9. Rehearse – Young girls are taught to practice their sales presentations in front of family and friends before meeting neighbors. Make sure to practice yours before and selling opportunities.

10. Be Prepared – The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts share this motto. When asked, “For what?” Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell replied, “Why, for any old thing.” Good advice.

11. Be Careful Crossing Streets – Pretty basic, yes? Keep your eyes focused on the essential parts of your small business. There are lots of cars out there…and they move really fast!

Death By Girl Scout Cookies – Losing Weight

Girl Scout cookie season is upon us and I was determined not to buy boxes and boxes of cookies this year. However, I was a Girl Scout as a little girl and believe in supporting the cause. So, I decided to purchase one box, and one box only.

No, I did not purchase those gooey, luscious, striped, caramel and coconut covered Samoas that I love so well. Nor did I fall prey to purchasing those silky tasting Thin Mints. Nope. I was determined to be smarter and wiser this year, seriously focus on my commitment to losing some weight. I purchased the Shortbread cookie that has a thin layer of chocolate on the back – my least tempting ones. My daughter and my niece love chocolate. Either or both were bound to want these cookies. I was feeling rather proud of myself… what a thoughtful mother/aunt I am.

Hah! As fate would have it, both were happy about my purchase until they found out it was the Girl Scout Shortbread cookies. “Any kind but those” they said almost simultaneously. No worries, I thought. I shall give them away to a friend. Day after day those cookies sat on my kitchen counter, beckoning and calling my name each time I walked past. I have GOT to get these cookies out of my house! They are going to be the death of me!

A week passed. Then another. Working on a project at my kitchen table around 1:30am one morning, I got an uncontrollable urge for ‘something sweet’. You guessed it! I unabashedly opened that box and ate two of those cookies. Darn, Sherry. You’ve got to be strong. Now I thought, how can I give anyone a partial box of cookies (Isn’t it amazing how we can rationalize anything if we think about it long enough?). As the other side of fate would have it, a couple more days passed, and those cookies didn’t live to see the light of day outside of my house. Once I opened the box, those cookies didn’t stand a chance!

Lesson learned. While I do believe in supporting causes, I can simply make a donation and walk away… without the cookies in hand. I can also choose to NOT bring sweets and tempting goodies into my home… free choice/free will. Final lesson, getting an insufficient amount of rest can derail your will power.

Have you ever fallen hard for the taste of Girl Scout cookies? Let me hear from you.