If the year 2020 has given us anything, I believe it’s cultivated a spirit in the American people to think more creatively, shift gears quickly and turn less-than-ideal situations into ones that are positive, even though things may look a little different along the way. As we head into the holiday season, we’re all being tasked with getting creative and finding new ways to celebrate the season, spread Christmas cheer and keep our favorite holiday traditions alive with friends and family in a safe manner.
And if ever there was a time when Christmas cheer needed to be spread across our communities, it’s certainly now. One way my family is keeping the Christmas spirit alive this season is by hosting a holiday cookie exchange to keep our friends and family close at heart, even though we may technically be more than 6 feet apart. In years past, cookie exchanges looked a little bit different as friends would gather in one common area with their homemade cookies and treats to “swap” with other families. Instead of gathering in one place this season, we are picking our top 3 favorite holiday cookies, packaging them up and delivering them to others. Each box will have a recipe card for one or more of the cookies featured in the box, plus a challenge for the recipient to create their own cookie box to share with their loved ones this holiday season.
While many other activities may be cancelled, baking treats in your own kitchen, getting a little crafty and sharing those gifts with others is certainly not off of the table. So gather up your baking supplies, break out the ribbon and twine and turn up the Christmas carols on the radio, because I’m going to show you how I put together these simple boxes with very little effort, all while creating a chain of holiday cheer that will ignite a light of hope throughout our communities during a time when we truly need it the most.
To start off our holiday cookie exchange, I selected 3 of our favorite cookies to make this time of year. My white chocolate cranberry cookies are a certified Santa favorite in my house, so those were a top choice to pack in our cookie boxes. Our other two choices were a classic gingerbread cookie and jam-filled lintzer cookies. I packed a total of 4 of each variety into our boxes, so recipients would receive a full dozen cookies to enjoy with their families.
As much as I love baking, assembling these boxes with particular families in mind was perhaps the best part of all. I found these paper lunch boxes in the party supply aisle as my local craft/hobby store. These are not a seasonal item, so you should be able to find them year round and often in multiple colors. I also picked up some wired holiday ribbon, crinkled paper gift box filler, an inexpensive pack of flat Christmas ornaments with “Merry Christmas” written on them, and a flocked fir pick from the floral department to attach to each box.
Once the cookies were baked, cooled and ready to pack, I filled each box with a handful of crinkled box filler and arranged the cookies on top. Inside the box I added a printed out recipe card for the cookies, along with a personalized card for the family and the challenge for them to continue to cookie exchange. I then closed the box, wrapped the ribbon around it and put a dab of hot glue on a small fir branch I trimmed off of the pick and placed it right in the center. I then glued the Christmas ornament on top for a completed look, and loaded up the boxes and delivered them safely to my friends and family.
As much as we all long to be comfortably reunited with our loved ones during this season, there are many creative ways we can still be with them in spirit until we’re all able to safely be together again. Starting a cookie exchange in your own community or circle of friends is a great way to keep our favorite holiday traditions like cookie baking and gift giving alive, all while spreading love, care and holiday cheer to others who could really use a pick-me-up during these times. 2020 may not have been the best year for many of us, but we’re given an opportunity every day to bring a smile to others faces. Sharing homemade cookies are a wonderful and simple way to do that, as each bite is sure to bring a smile over and over again!
Are you ready to begin your own cookie exchange? Here’s my recipe for these scrumptious White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies to get you started!
Soft & Chewy White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup salted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbs vanilla flavoring
- 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- In a large mixing bowl using a hand or stand mixer, combine butter, white sugar and brown sugar.
- Add in vanilla and egg and mix until incorporated.
- Slowly add in flour, corn starch, baking soda and salt and mix until a soft, thick dough forms.
- Add in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips and stir until just combined.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer. (Don't skip this step!)
- Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or use a non-stick silicone baking mat
- Once dough is thoroughly chilled, roll or scoop into 2 inch balls and place about an inch or more apart on the cookie sheet
- Bake for 10-11 minutes. *Cookies will appear undercooked when first removed from the oven. Do not cook any longer - the cookies will continue to set while left to cool on the cookie sheet.
- Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!