Get into the spirit of the holidays by gathering friends for a cookie exchange and tree trimming party. Since this party is focused on two fun activities, it’s a great way to break the ice among different groups of friends. Conversation flows easily as guests add ornaments to the tree or share stories about perfecting their favorite cookie recipe. This party is also an easy and affordable way to entertain since the cookies your guests provide are the centerpiece of the menu – and make a delicious parting gift!
Ask each person you invite to bring one or two dozen home-made cookies, plus enough copies of their recipe for each guest. You can assign each friend a different type of cookie or simply ask them to bring a batch of their favorites. If your guest list includes novice bakers, offer to provide several easy recipe options. One great source is Big Fat Cookies (Chronicle Books), which includes recipes for 50 delicious cookies – from Mocha Mud Mountains to Lemon Whoopie Pies.
The cookie buffet is the focal point of the party, so design a layout that provides easy access to the treats from all sides. Depending on the size and layout of your space, cookies can be spread out on one large table or arrayed on several smaller tables placed around the room.
To add visual interest to the buffet, provide multiple options for displaying cookies. In addition to platters, elevated pieces like our Great White Pedestals and Star Pedestal Servers are a great way to create height and drama. Have precut sheets of wax or parchment paper on hand to place between layers of cookies. Use our French Wire Place Card holders to identify each cookie and its baker.
For a unified look, select dishware in a single color. White is a great choice because it provides a simple backdrop for the shapes and colors of the cookies. Here, we’ve combined our Great White Dinnerware with our Star Entertaining Collection, both made of glazed white porcelain.
To make the buffet especially festive, add decorative elements such as a tabletop tree or our tree-shaped advent calendar, filled with Ghirardelli chocolates. For more ideas, watch our videos with PB Style Expert Susanna Salk, a former editor at Elle Décor and House and Garden, about decorating your holiday table and creative entertaining.
Have a table devoted to refreshments. Have carafes of milk resting on ice, plus ice water served in pitchers. Make sure you set out enough glassware for each guest to have one of each; you’ll find that it’s not just the kids who require a tall glass of cold milk with cookies!
To prepare for the tree-trimming portion of your party, string your tree with lights and get your ornaments organized and ready to hang. Glass ornaments can be presented in protective storage boxes. Wooden or fabric ornaments can be placed in baskets. As guests arrive, ask them to hang an ornament or two on the tree while you add their cookies to the buffet. For creative ideas on tree trimming and other holiday traditions, watch our videos with Pottery Barn’s head of marketing, Audrey Gerber.
Make sure you have an ample supply of dishwasher-safe plates, mugs, wineglasses and flatware on hand. A dinnerware set like our Great White Collection is ideal, because its simple, oversized shapes and white glaze go with any decor. Designed for large gatherings, our Caterer’s Flatware and Stemware Sets feature simple, classic designs and come with durable storage boxes that make them easy to put away when the party is over.
Create attractive containers that guests can use to bring their cookies home. A Mason jar or basket wrapped with twine and strung with a copy of the recipe and one of our Snowflake or Peace Ornaments makes a thoughtful party favor that can be reused again and again.
When it’s time for the cookie swap to begin, ask guests to introduce themselves and share something about their cookie recipe. Next, ask them to begin moving around the tables, sampling the cookies that appeal to them and filling their containers with the treats they like most. Encourage your friends to continue sampling and circulating until the cookies are all gone!