Especially where the holiday season is concerned, Matt and I are trying to be intentional about starting new traditions. We had so much fun with our mini turkey dinner before “real” Thanksgiving, and I decided that we should come up with something special to do before Christmas, too!

One VERY important thing to know about my husband is that cookies are one of his favorite things (ever). He gets pretty psyched to indulge in just about anything in the baked goods category (you can read more about how cupcakes were responsible for our first interaction here), but cookies might edge out the rest of the competition. So, when I decided to throw together a small holiday gathering for our NYC friends with less than a week’s notice, it seemed to me that making cookies a major part of the event would make it easier to get him on board. I was right!

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I’d heard of other friends organizing cookie swaps, and with just a few days to plan, I thought it would be the perfect way for us to get a few friends together before everyone disperses for their holiday travels. We decided to add a charitable element, too, as a way of giving back during the holiday season. Like so many families, ours has been deeply affected by cancer, so we’ve started supporting Alex’s Lemonade Stand (instead of favors for guests at our wedding, we contributed to Alex’s on behalf of everyone who attended). Everyone who attended the cookie swap was asked to bring at least $10 (along with their cookies!) for us to send to this great cause.

The cookie swap was open-house style, so people were welcome to come throughout the afternoon and evening. If you’re ever trying to organize a pre-holiday gathering, I would recommend structuring it this way, because it allowed a few of our friends to stop by while they were finishing their Christmas errands or making rounds to other parties.

Everyone brought 2-3 dozen cookies to share, and we had more wine than we knew what to do with! Each guest got to bring a bag of assorted cookies home with them, but somehow we’re still left with SO many delicious treats at our apartment (if you’re in the Brooklyn area, seriously, come grab some). It was a really laidback, fun way to bring people together — and who doesn’t love Christmas cookies? We appreciate everyone who was part of the swap and who helped us raise $250 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. The event was a total success, and we’re excited to make it even bigger and better next year! Check out more photos below.

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I never miss a chance to do a little DIY, so I made take-home cookie bags for everyone using fun holiday stamps from the craft store. 
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Homemade Peppermint Bark — my favorite! (I make this every year and there are tons of easy and delicious recipes like this one out there.)
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I made these Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies for the first time this year, and they were a big hit (but super messy to make). 
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I make my Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies every holiday season, and they’re always a favorite. The trick is using almond extract instead of vanilla. 

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Our apartment was so chaotic after everyone else started to arrive with their cookies that I didn’t get a chance to snap any photos of the swap in progress! You’ll have to take my word for it that there were a lot of REALLY delicious, beautiful treats : ) Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!