Here are me and my girls all decked out in their aprons. Don't they all look adorable and so Christmassy! Everyone showed up with all their cookies packaged all nice. We started off the party with some soup and other little appetizers and chatted. Then we went around the room and shared a little about our family's Christmas traditions which was a fun way to get to know one another. Once we had all eaten we headed for the cookies!
Each person took turns explaining their cookie (and some explained their baking woes...) then we tasted them, keeping in mind the prizes: Best Tasting, Best Packaging, and Best Overall.
Here was one of the cookies, Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate - oh they were delicious!
An aray of different packaging! It was so fun to see how different each person put their gifts together.
Here are my Pretzel Hugs - for the directions, see my Cookie Exchange Party Prep post.
I also served Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup which was also a great "make-ahead" dish (even those who didn't think they liked squash - namely my Husband Peter - thought it was pretty darn good). You basically roasted two peeled, and sliced butternut squash along with 20 cloves of garlic until the squash is soft. Meanwhile you sauté two sliced leeks in some olive oil. Once the squash is finished, add the squash to the stock pot you sauteed the leeks in and add 1 - 2 cups of broth. Use your hand blender to puree the soup (add more stock if you need to). Once the soup is pureed, add the remaining broth and simmer adding salt and pepper to taste. Such a simple soup but delicious and even filling!
I also sauteed cubes of french bread in olive oil and garlic salt to serve along with the soup. (I can't resist homemade croutons!)
There was another breadstick that I served along with the soup (displayed in a Christmas mug) these were also another make-a-head which I froze and then plopped in the oven a half-hour before my party started. You can find the recipe for the Parmesan Twists here.
These were a HUGE hit! Mini Caprese Bites from My Recipes.com. They couldn't have been easier either and they are perfect for a Christmas Party appetizer because they are (in essence) red and white stripped.
I encourage you all to try this (perhaps next year as we are getting closer to the Christmas Holiday...). It is a GREAT way to get some friends together before the craziness of the holidays gets going and just enjoy the season.
Whenever planning a party always remember a few tips -
- Try to do as much ahead of time as possible!
- Don't hesitate to delegate!
- When it comes down to the last minute - don't freak out... somethings just won't work out and so you will just have to forgo! (Plus, I can bet no one will notice whatever it is you are missing...)