Christmas with KidZ
The Great Cookie Swap
article by Cindy G. Foust
Sometimes, you just have to call it like you see it…and the way I see it, our world has gone completely bonkers. The urban dictionary defines bonkers as “bananas, nuts, crazy, wild, ballistic, cuckoo.” Cuckoo, now there’s a word I like better and find even more appropriate for what’s going on in the news today (no, I’m not talking about election advertising). For starters, did anyone notice one of the “hot, must-have” baby costumes for Halloween, 2014, which happened to be a marijuana leaf? No, really? Or how about Kim “Karbonkersidian” suggesting she was going to “break the Internet” by showcasing her rather voluptuous “rear-end” in the buff? Or worse, she placed a wine glass “atop” her mountain top and popped a bottle of champagne, hoping to catch the bubbly with her bottom. The only thing I think she will break is her record for the most ridiculous publicity stunts in the world. What exactly is our world coming to? The examples are children are given to follow in the media are so warped it makes me want to take my children and move to Montana (oh, and live on the land.) I write frequently about wanting my children to have wholesome, Christian role models that help build their character. Admittedly, they have lots of those around them, but like other parents, I also hope we are giving our children some of these values at home. Quite simply, I consider being a parent the hardest aspect of my life. And it seems this time of year, with the holidays quickly approaching…again (didn’t we just put our Christmas decorations in the attic?), I get a little nostalgic and start longing for those days of Christmas past, like way past, when life was much simpler; when life didn’t involve smart phones, X-Box and cable television. My dad always subscribed to the philosophy that the family that plays together stays together. Since I started my own family, I have tried to subscribe to that same parenting philosophy, and through this column, I also write to encourage families to find time to spend together by suggesting ideas that would help them build family traditions. Just call me the “Family Fairy,” you know, like Glenda the Good Witch, only instead of a pink dress and tiara, I wear black fleece warm-ups and a ponytail. Last Christmas, I know my readers will remember, because they hang on every word I write and commit my stories to permanent memory, I suggested some different Christmas activities to make us slow down and enjoy the holidays. Well, this Christmas will be no different. In fact, the Family Fairy is going to give you another option for establishing a Christmas tradition that your children will love, and I can assure you it doesn’t have anything to do with insane costumes or naked derrieres. In fact, I’m going to wave my magic wand, and give you step-by-step instructions for planning the greatest Cookie Swap you’ve ever been to (if I’m guessing, probably the only Cookie Swap you’ve ever been to). I know what you are thinking…this idea is about as cuckoo as catching champagne on your tush, because no one has time to even go to the grocery store anymore, much less bake cookies and organize a party. But think of the memories you will create for your children and their friends. It might take a little work, a little planning, but the effort will be worth it in the end (you will have to get a personal trainer and your mouth wired shut after you gain 20 pounds from eating 8 dozen cookies, but just call me and I will wave my wand and make those pounds disappear). Now, blow the dust off that planner, sit down with your pen and notebook (and your calendar) and plan a cookie bonanza (by the way, if your children are out of the house, plan one of these for your friends…they will love it, too!).
STEP ONE: Plan a date, and don’t be disappointed when you don’t get 100% participation. It is the holiday season after all, and people will have conflicts. Don’t stress out over invitations, just print some on the computer, and get them out 2-3 weeks in advance. You can either ask your guests to bring their own Christmas platter or tin to take their cookies back home, or you can be a really gracious hostess and provide the tins for them.
STEP TWO: Decide exactly how many invitations you want to send. This step is important because you must have your guests bring
6-12 cookies for every invite you send. If you send 10 invitations, your guests need to bring at least 60 cookies (5 dozen), so that each guest will take home that many cookies.
Chances are you won’t get all 10 invitees at the party, and it will give you some extra cookies to nibble on during the party. Also, important to this step is asking your guests to bring recipe cards with their recipe on it, so the guests get 10 new recipes along with their cookies.
STEP THREE: Choose your own recipe. The Family Fairy is actually going to include my family’s favorite cookie recipe in this column, because, hey, that’s just how I spread my magic dust.
STEP FOUR: Plan a light menu to enjoy during the cookie swap. Milk…milk is a good beverage to offer or something more festive if you are doing this with adults (but if I see any pics on Facebook of your friends trying to catch their bubbly on their beeee-hind…I’m sending my elves to do an intervention.)
STEP FIVE: The day of the party, usually a stressful time for some party givers. First, you’ve already got your house decorated for Christmas, so this step should be less stressful. Just let the tinsel cover up the dust, throw out a few festive tablecloths on the tables and set your nibblers out. Turn up the Christmas music and get ready to get down cow (only my family knows what goofy movie that phrase comes from).
STEP SIX: When it’s actually time for the cookie exchange, your guests taken their empty platters or tins and walk around the table and help themselves to cookies prepared by their friends. It will be great fun and you will be considered the “hostess with the mostess.”
Christmas tends to bring with it stressful times, but remember, it doesn’t have to be that way. Stop, my busy little pretties (I’m trying to sound more like Glenda) and smell the cocoa (also a good beverage to serve at the Cookie Swap). Play your Christmas really loud in your car. Pick out a real Christmas tree this year so your house smells fresh. Shop local. Let your children wrap the gifts. Purchase some great “old” Christmas movies and make the cookies for your Cookie Swap with your family. Because in the words of the famous Glenda the Good Witch “there’s no place like home” and the memories you create with your family will cement that philosophy in the minds and hearts of your children, family and friends.
FOUST FAMILY COOKIES
1 cup softened REAL butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Cream these ingredients,
adding one egg at a time.
Sift: 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Add to wet ingredients.
Fold in 1 bag milk chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Bake at 375 11-13 minutes.