Half Baked

Friday, 29 November 2013 | Tags: , , , , ,

I got invited to join a holiday cookie exchange. And while I love to spend time in the kitchen, I'll be taking a pass on this one.

The idea behind a cookie exchange is that everyone makes several dozen of their favourite holiday cookie recipe.  Then you all get together, sample each other’s wares, have some wine and swap cookies so everyone goes home with lots of different types to give away and serve during the holidays.  Plus you get a fistful of new recipes.  It’s supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to save time.  Sounds like a good idea, right?  

In theory, it is.  But in practise, like so many other domestic trends that breed competition, the cookie exchange may have become more of a bake ‘n bitch session of one uppmanship laced with senseless rules and regulations.  Where did the fun go?
The rules that came with my invitation stated that I was to submit my recipe in advance, “for approval”. What if there were two recipes that were similar?!  Or, horrors, THE SAME?!! Come now ladies, that would never do!
I was also told “no peanuts” (possible allergies), “no drop cookies” (too easy), “no plain shortbread” (also too easy) and “no bars” (why, I have no idea.  I guess a bar is not a cookie.  I wonder if there’s a group out there doing Christmas bar exchanges.  I bet that’s a cooler crowd).  And in bold type across the bottom of the invitation, “STORE BOUGHT COOKIES ARE STRICTLY PROHIBITED.”  
Oh, and there would be a competition for the best cookie.  That was the final straw.
What’s wrong with providing a cookie that came from a simple recipe? What cookie lover on this earth doesn’t love shortbread?  My boyfriend’s father makes the world’s best shortbread and I was planning on begging him for the recipe.  Your loss, cookie swap cops.  And why punish bars and not, say, sandwich cookies? The peanut allergy I get, IF  it is known one of the contributors has a peanut problem.  And when it comes to store bought cookies, I say bring ’em on.   I bet the cookies from my favourite patisserie would be far better then anything I could bake and wouldn’t everyone be happy to have some to put on their table this holiday season?  Oh but wait, that wouldn’t be fair!  That Stepford wife from down the street stayed up all night perfecting her peppermint pinwheels and she wants to win!
So as avid bakers everywhere are gathering with their cookie wares I urge you to lighten up.  Drop the contest element, who cares if there are duplicates, serve lots of refreshments and eat some cookies.  Heck, I’d be grateful to receive a box of Tim Tams.  So if there are any cookie swap convicts out there who want to send their rejected store bought, drop, bar, peanut laden and best of all shortbread, please know all will be accepted and consumed with gratitude and glee.
Happy Black Friday and enjoy the holiday season!
[Top image via timlewisnm]
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  • nunnyabiz86

    That sounds ruthless! A few co-workers of mine and myself are doing a no stress bring anything baked kind of cookie exchange (even those naughty bars are allowed!). We are going to meet for a nice lunch, exchange cookies and enjoy each others company…it’s a nice way to get in the Christmas spirit 🙂 Hopefully the person who invited you reads this blog and realizes how intense they made what is supposed to be a fun get together.

  • KikiMa17

    GEEZ! what’s with “fun cookie exchange”?? It sounds like a camp you dont want to go. Isnt it better to just get together and bake together? have some wine or xmas inspired cocktails and just relax and have fun? Why does everything have to be a competition? This is the time to share, laugh and have fun!

  • Patty Baker

    That sounds horrible. I would have passed, too. I have never been invited to one, but, always thought it would be fun.

  • smcyyc

    Wow – how to totally ruin the concept of a cookie exchange. Our office ones were awesome. One year two of us made our favourite ‘no bakes’ (the ones with oatmeal, coconut & peanut butter). They were delicious (even better straight out of the freezer), and totally different. As for the no nut thing – bang head. If people are allergic to peanuts they shouldn’t be participating in an exchange. Virtually no home of non-allergic individuals is nut free. Mine sure isn’t. If they’re at that big a risk stay home.

    • Eugen

      Exactly right regarding nut allergies. My niece is allergic. We have peanut butter in the house as well as many nuts and nut products. When she comes over, guess what, we don’t put out anything we aren’t sure is nut free. And when she was small, we hid all the nut-related products high and out of reach. It’s not rocket science. I don’t need some meddling nanny telling me how to run my life.

      • smcyyc

        Well said Eugen!

  • Eugen

    Well, it’s not a surprise. We have people going around worrying that wishing someone a Merry Christmas will cause all kinds of grief and angst — though I have never met anyone whether atheist, Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Hindu or what have you being offended by Merry Christmas; though I know plenty that are massively irritated that some half wit is making assumptions about how sensitive their dispositions are. These self-important rule nazis are unbearable. It’s plainly obvious from this fiasco that they figure they can come up with rules for everything and that if we all just followed these rules, well, the world would be a better place. I mean, the more restrictions the better, right? I mean, look at North Korea and Iran. Those places are paradises!

    Anna, you’re right to just flip the whole exchange off. It’s worthless. Bake your cookies for those that appreciate the time you’re willing to put into them.

    BTW, last time I checked a good shortbread cookie is one of the hardest things to make; good shortbread’s a bear! Sure, anyone can make a crappy one, but a good one takes a special skill. One that holds together yet melts the moment it hits your mouth. It’s stupid hard to do.

    And have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  • Tracy Dawn

    Ahhh the holidays, brings out the best in everyone now doesn’t it? My Christmas wish is that I never take a cookie exchange (cookies people) so seriously that I develop a series of rules. Hopefully you can still beg the recipe out of him and share it here with the rest of us cookie rebels.

  • Stephanie

    It’s essays like this one (oh –and their tv shows) why I adore A (&K)!

  • Annie

    I would have said ‘no thanks’ also. I’m involved in a cookie exchange and making my favourite no bake drop cookies ahead of time and sending with a friend because I will be away. My share of the cookies will be waiting for me when I return. No rules, just fun, perfect!