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 Christmas Chocolate Viennese Crescent Cookies

Cookie exchanges are a fun and delicious way to celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones.  People of all faiths and traditions love to eat cookies!  

Cookie exchanges are also an excellent way for you to enjoy a variety of cookies throughout the holiday season without having to prepare a bunch of different recipes or spend money on a lot of ingredients.  Hosting a cookie exchange gives you the opportunity to relax and reconnect with loved ones during the busy holiday season.

Keys to Cookie Exchange Success:

1. Create a guest list and invite your guests three to four weeks before your cookie exchange, before their calendars are packed full of other holiday activities.  Inviting your guests can be as simple or elaborate as you want.  Whatever invitation method suits your personal taste, be sure to ask your guests to RSVP.  Tell your guests about your cookie exchange by:
-Mail handmade paper invitations.
-Send out an e-card or invite your guests through an email.
-Invite your guests face-to-face or over the phone. 

2.  Coordinate the kind of cookies your guests will bring so that there is no overlap.  Try to have a variety of cookies represented at your gift exchange, such as drop, rolled, icebox, ball, and bar.

3.  Ask your guests to email you the recipe they will be preparing and put together a mini cookbook to print and give to each guest during the exchange.  Tie a small cookie cutter to each cookbook with ribbon for a festive and practical embellishment.

4. Make sure that your guests are aware of any ingredients they should not use due to the food allergies of another guest.

5. A great cookie exchange doesn’t have to be expensive.  If there are any special tools you need to decorate your cookies, try to borrow them from your guests or other friends.

6. Ask each guest to bring:
- ½ dozen cookies for each guest
- lidded boxes or other containers to take their cookies home.

7. Provide refreshments apart from the cookies - guests should not be expected to eat the cookies they have received.  You could serve coffee, hot chocolate, snack mix, and roasted nuts!  Try some of these delicious and festive recipes:
-Oyster Cracker Snack Mix
-Honey Roasted Nuts
-Hot Cocoa
-Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
-New Mexican Hot Chocolate

8. Bake the cookies you plan to share a few days ahead of time and freeze them.  You can defrost them the evening before or the morning of your exchange.

9. If children will be attending, make sure they have something to do - like watching a holiday themed movie or decorating cookies of their own or making a gingerbread house.

10. Remember to enjoy the time you are spending with your guests.  Have each of them share the story behind their cookie or a favorite holiday memory.

11. If you are simply exchanging cookies, without any assembling or decorating, set up a buffet area where guests can take pick up cookies and package them.  If you are planning to decorate or assemble cookies during the party, set up stations at a large table or a few small tables.  Your guests can have easy and comfortable access to the ingredients and tools they need to put their cookies together.  

12. Share the bounty.  If it is possible, have each guest bring a package of store bought cookies to donate to a local soup kitchen or food drive.

13. Here are some ideas to take your cookie swap to the next level:

-Decorating Party.  Ask guests to bring cut out spice, sugar, or gingerbread cookies and their favorite candies or sprinkles.  You could provide a few colors and flavors of icing.  If you are looking for an icing recipe, try one of these: White Buttercream Icing, Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting, Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Frosting, or Mocha Frosting.

-Whoopie Pie or Sandwich Making Party.  Each guest could bring the cookie part of a whoopie pie or sandwich cookie and you could provide a few filling options.  Guests could mix-and-match fillings and cookies as they chose.  Try one of these whoopie pie recipes: Whoopie Pies or Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

-Freezer Cookie Swap. Have each of your guests bring cookies that can be frozen and enjoyed throughout the holiday season.  If your guests want to share a recipe for iced cookies, have them prepare the cookie without the icing and bring the recipe for the icing with them.  Later on, when you are ready to enjoy the cookies, you could prepare a batch of icing and ice them.

-Make a Gingerbread House.  Assemble a gingerbread house with your guests.   Bake the gingerbread a few days before your party or ask one of your guests to bake it for you.  Ask guests to also bring their favorite candies to decorate the gingerbread house.

Looking for cookie inspiration, prepare some of these recipes for your exchange:
Brown Sugar Icebox Cookies
German Gingerbread Cookies
Almond Shortbread Cookies
Neiman Marcus Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint
Oats, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Balls
Lemon Snowflake Cookies
Blue Ribbon Sugar Cookies
Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Almond-Apricot Biscotti
Absolutely Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge Cookies