Like the rest of the world, I’m running around at a million miles per hour this week taking care of final holiday preparations, wrapping up a few work projects (even though it looks like I’m going to have to plenty to do next week, ugh), and getting ready to travel this weekend. I don’t have a ton of time to blog (sorry!), but I did want to check in quickly and share a few notes about our cookie swap this past weekend.

We had our first cookie swap last year (you can read more about that here),and pretty much decided the following day that we wanted it to become an annual thing. Matt’s love language is cookies and I’ll take any opportunity to throw a party (especially around the holidays) — plus, we loved the fact that it gave us a chance to raise some money for a good cause during a season when it’s easy to forget to be generous. Every person who comes to one of our swaps brings $10 with them, and we donate all of the money to Alex’s Lemonade Stand. The organization benefits, the guests leave with bellies and bags full of cookies, Matt’s drowning in leftover baked goods for weeks… everybody wins!

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I try to make a few dozen cookies myself to take some pressure off our guests and to ensure that there are plenty of cookies to go around. Baking is one of my favorite things, anyway, and I always find it to be a super stress reliever. This year, I made a few of my go-to recipes, plus some new things, and I was pretty happy with how all of them turned out!

  • Peppermint Bark: Not officially a cookie, but always a hit at holiday parties and bake sales. They look kind of fancy and everyone’s impressed when they find out you made them from scratch, but it’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever made! This is a great recipe to use as a starting point, but I always swap semisweet chocolate in for the milk chocolate. I also find that it really helps with the texture (and prevents the chocolate from burning), when you add a bit of canola or vegetable oil to the saucepan as you melt both types of chocolate.
  • Cranberry + White Chocolate Chip Cookies: Take your favorite standard chocolate chip cookie recipe (I have one that I’ll never share!), swap white chocolate in for semisweet chips, and add craisins. Instead of vanilla extract, use almond extract (a little bit less almond than you would vanilla). I swear on rainbow sprinkles that this is the ultimate holiday cookie, and I look forward to them all year long.
  • Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies: This was a new one for me! I’m generally not a huge cookie person (which makes it a lot easier for me to have all of these cookies around the apartment for the swap!), but I’ve been really into oatmeal cookies this year, so I wanted to make a version for the party. I used this recipe and sprinkled metallic sanding sugar on top for some festive sparkle.
  • Cut-Out Sugar Cookies: I shared all my feelings about cut-out sugar cookies on Instagram over the weekend, but suffice it to say that I kind of find them to be a HUGE. PAIN. They’re labor intensive and really messy (have you figured out that I’m a neat freak yet?), and I’m just not totally convinced that the finished product merits all that work. But, Matt loves them and they’re basically the ultimate holiday treat, so I caved and brought them back for this year. I used this recipe from The Kitchn, which I would recommend hands down. The cream cheese adds a great flavor, and they were really easy to roll out. I used powdered sugar instead of flour to work the dough for the first time (a little trick I picked up from too many hours of watching baking shows), and I think that also made a big difference. Who knows? I might even make them again next year without complaining!

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Do you have a favorite cookie recipe that you bring out for the holidays? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below!

AND check back here on Friday for the final giveaway of 2017! I heard a few of you loud and clear when you said you’re looking for non-jewelry prizes (it’s not too late to take the survey if you haven’t yet!), so I’ll be shaking things up for December. See you then!