Two Weeks to Go: Finalize the Guest List
About two weeks before your party, you should have an estimate for how many people are attending and what cookies they are going to make. If any guests sign up to bring the same type of cookie, this gives you plenty of time to ask one of them to pick a different recipe. Once you’ve finalized your guest list, you can plan a simple food and drink menu and decide which cookies you want to make.
One Week to Go: Grocery Shop and Print Recipes
One week before your party, you’ll want to head to the grocery store and buy the ingredients you need for your cookies, any appetizers you plan on making and any beverages you’d like to serve. It’s also helpful to purchase extra paper plates and a package of plastic storage bags in case guests forget to bring their own containers for taking cookies home. Feeling crafty? Pick up some holiday ribbon or bows for extra decorating options!
Take a moment to examine your party space. Is your table large enough for all the cookies? If not, consider adding a folding table for more cookie display space. Start getting your platters together to display your cookies, or have your guests bring their own. If you have ample table space, set up your cookies around the table, that way your guests can circle the table clockwise and collect cookies to take home without running into each other. Using notecards, write the name of each cookie type and place it by each cookie plate so guests know what kind of cookie they are trying and taking home.
And since all of the guests have picked out the recipes they’ll make, consider printing out copies of each recipe for everyone to take home with them. If it’s an original family recipe, ask them to send you the ingredients and instructions; if it’s from a website (maybe this one?!) you can just ask them to send the link.
Two Days to Go: Make Your Cookies
If you have time to make cookies more than couple days before the party, freeze them! With some recipes, you can prepare dough and freeze it up to three months in the freezer. To freeze pre-made cookies, place unfrosted, baked cookies in containers with tight-fitting lids. For frosted cookies, freeze them uncovered on a baking sheet, then package between layers of wax paper in a rigid container. To thaw soft-textured cookies, simply leave them in their container at room temperature. Crisp-textured cookies, on the other hand, should be removed from the container before thawing.
All other cookies that can’t be frozen should be made two days before the party. After all, you don’t want to be worried about burning cookies while you’re setting up your display space! Want a refresher on how to make cookies? We’ve got the step-by-step guide that will have you feeling like a pro.
One Day to Go: Prep Your Space
Cookies will get all of the attention at your party. There’s no need to do additional decorating; simply focus on providing ample space for displaying the cookies and making the tasting table super accessible.
Set out a “take-home station” with paper plates, food storage bags, and any supplies for decorating them.
While you’re at it, start rounding up platters and trays for guests to display their cookies. Many will bring their own containers or plates, but this way you won’t have to dig serving dishes out of cabinets after your friends arrive for anyone who asks to borrow one.
Day of the Party: Make the Appetizers and Beverages
With your cookies already made, all that’s left to do is give yourself enough time to make the appetizers. Pay attention to the recipe directions for each of your appetizers in case they need cooling time. Better yet, if you’re hosting a cookie exchange earlier in the day, choose quick meals that can easily be made ahead of time (like this Easy Crescent Veggie Pizza).
If you’re making a crowd-sized batch of a hot beverage like cocoa or cider, start it simmering a couple hours before guests arrive. If you’re serving cold beverages, fill a small basin or cooler with a bag of ice to keep cold drinks cool without taking up coveted refrigerator space.