Now, as most of y’all know I am often called a Pollyanna thanks to my glass is half full positive outlook on life. However there is one thing in this world that quickly turns this Pollyanna into a Negative Nelly and that is a good old-fashioned cookie exchange! Shocking, but true! I have participated in my fair share and even organized a few and let me tell you, now I understand what they mean by a labor of love. Except for in this case, unlike actual labor where you totally forget just how intense the pain was because your heart is overflowing with joy thanks to that beautiful baby you are holding, you do recall every contraction!
Why host a cookie exchange anyway? I know I wanted to host one because it seemed like such a fabulous way to help each other out, to cover all those cookies you need to bring for school parties, work parties, family gatherings, etc. and I love hanging with friends, so it seemed like a no-brainer, right? Wrong!
Top Ten Reasons Why Cookie Exchanges are THE WORST:
1) Too many people want to participate– “Can my cousin once removed, niece’s half-sister, and neighbor participate too?”- When you first announce you are organizing and hosting a cookie exchange the entire city will be excited and will want to participate. And you will be left with the difficult task of deciding who will be included and who will not…often first come first serve is the best policy but as you will read in #4, that doesn’t always mean the most dependable people will sign up first.
2) Deadlock on the amount of cookies to bake– “12 dozen is too many! 12 half dozen isn’t enough!” This one is a classic complaint and often the group is split down the middle with half being okay with just baking 12 half dozen & the other demanding 12 dozen. And here you thought you just wanted to get together with friends and celebrate this joyous time of the year and they have you in the worst position possible, choosing one group of friends/family over the other. Good luck!
3) Do we have to assign cookies!?-“She took my cookie”. Trying to decide who makes what cookies shouldn’t be this complicated but it is!!
4) Not enough people to participate– “So my cousin once removed can’t make it, and her niece’s half-sister has to babysit, and my neighbor can’t get a ride” (seriously…don’t you live next door? Can’t you give them a ride?). Just when you had 12 women participating, you figured out a date, what cookie everyone was baking, and how many cookies each woman was going to bake suddenly half of them can’t participate!!! Grrrr!! Guess who is starting back at square one with only a week to go before the big cookie exchange?
5) Allergies– “I am allergic” After making a few calls, sending some emails, making promises to babysit swap, take out their trash, do their dishes, change diapers, anything to get that number back up to 12 you finally did it! However the women you managed to recruit have family with nut allergies…..time to go back to the drawing board and restructure the whole who’s baking what cookie.
6) Adults acting like toddlers – “Her cookie is way easier than mine, which is not fair”. At this point in the game you are starting to lose your patience and just flat out ask, what do you want me to do about it!!? Want me to go over and destroy a few batches so she has to make them again? Would that be fair? Grrrr!!!
7) Last Minute Cancelations -“That date just won’t work for me”. You know that date you set 6 weeks ago that hasn’t changed? Yep, that one! Well, turns out 3 of the women can’t make it that day because of prior engagements…yes; they will wait till 4 days before the exchange to announce this, seriously!?! (At this point you are either moved to prayer or a glass of wine, in my case I prayed while I sipped!) (It should be noted that there are circumstances beyond peoples control and you do need to be understanding).
8) Containers are offensive– “We agreed on fancy boxes and she has plastic bags, WHAT!?!” The big day finally arrives, you have cleaned your house, baked, prepped drinks and food, gone around in circles on where the hubby should take the kids, vacuumed and dusted (DUSTED!) and your guest arrive with cookie packages in hands. You worked so hard to get to this point and you think you are in the clear; you can just relax and enjoy that bundle of joy that you labored for all these weeks but nope, because the containers aren’t fair. At this point you realized you should have just had an exchange with your 3 year olds friends because that is the maturity level at this point.
9) Spontaneous Cookie Baking– “I was going to do those but I did chocolate chips instead….so we have two people bringing chocolate chips, no big deal”. Of course someone changed their cookie without telling you…and to be honest, you could care less but you know that one woman will be offended by this….solution, just pour yourself that drink, sip, and nod.
10) Definition of exchange is misunderstood– “Wait, I have 4 of the same cookie!!” Just when you thought it was all over, the afterbirth. Somehow everyone didn’t exchange properly and some women got 4 of one cookie and none of the others. Now, this is when you will really need to contain yourself and not scream, MY 3YEAR OLD CAN EXCHANGE 12 or 6 CRAYONS WITH 12 FRIENDS EASIER THAN THIS!!! (Remember don’t scream that…stay cool, calm, and collected).
Finally the madness is over and you have either 72 of 142 cookies that are reminders of the struggle, heartache, exhaustion, promises, and labors of love you went through….try sinking your teeth into one of those. Diet starts after the cookie exchange….no one wants to taste that bitterness.
I love my friends and family with all my heart but I do not like them when they are under the influence of a cookie exchange. There is something about a cookie exchange that brings out the competition, negativity, gossip, etc. in women, including myself. So, for the sake of my relationships I have decided that I am officially in cookie exchange recovery. My days of cookie exchanging are over.
My hat is off to all those organizing a cookie exchange. Hang in there, heed my advice. And for those participating in a cookie exchange, be nice! The person organizing the cookie exchange is hearing everyone’s complaints, at least try to balance them out with complements, remember why you are having the exchange, focus on the joy, be an epidural for the organizer, minimize her pain and increase her joy.
Are you a cookie exchange organizer? Please feel free to share any suggestions, stories, and/or recipes…. would love to hear from you….is there a way to minimize the chaos and stress?
4 thoughts on “Top Ten Reasons Why Cookie Exchanges are THE WORST!!”
I love cookie exchanges. But, the rules need to be set our CLEARLY before it begins. I talk to each person before signing them up and make sure they have their cookie chosen, correct amount they need to bring and I provide the containers for take home if they wish. $1 store has both decorative Chinese food like containers or metal tins. I also make sure once they sign up I check on them about 10 days before hand and a few days ahead to make sure they are following through. I stress when they sign up how everyone is counting on them to fulfill their part of the exchange and its not fair if they sign up and don’t follow through or make the cookie they signed up for. We have had a few back out over the years but not many.
I’ve been doing them for YEARS and we have TONS of fun – I keep it simple – 4 dozen of the same kind of cookie (and I tell them store bought is fine if they’re crunched for time) and also to bring a wrapped ornament to exchange. This year I’m offering prizes for the person most decked out for Christmas, the one who has the ugliest Christmas sweater on and the one who wears the funniest or most unique Christmas hat. I don’t care if they bring their recipe to share or not – it’s all about having fun and celebrating each other and the holidays – it should never be a Pillsbury bakeoff or Martha stewart competition. 🙂
You forgot the worst part of attending a cookie swap: you arrive with 100% delicious cookies. You leave with a lot of inferior cookies. A shocking proportion of people suck at baking. Like they use crisco in cookies. And there will be certain varieties you just don’t like. Better to have made 3 batches of your own faves.
You’re so right…especially after you’ve taken the time, effort, energy, and money to make amazing cookies, leaving with inferior cookies is extremely disappointing! Agreed…it’s better to have 3 batches of your own faves then 11 batches of mediocre cookies. Happy baking Abby! ; )