The Great Cookie Exchange

Who doesn’t like Christmas cookies? (If you don’t, then you’re definitely not going to like this post.) One of my favourite things to do around this time of year is to give out baked goodies to everyone I know. Years and years ago I even used to do annual cookie exchanges with my friends.

You’ve done one of those before, right? Each party guest is assigned the task of bringing enough cookies for each party guest to take home (half to one dozen is a good amount) so everyone ends up with a variety of treats to serve at Christmas time. (That is, if they can last until then.)

Here’s some of what I learned from my past experiences:

  • Do try and circulate a list to get a sense of what everyone is bringing so you don’t get any repeats.
  • Don’t micromanage what every single person is going to make. The fun of it is having something unique from everyone, based on their background, their family traditions and their own personal preferences.
  • Do make sure you double-check for any dietary restrictions or allergies.
  • But if you do end up making a recipe someone can’t eat, don’t forget to bring them an alternative instead. (Like the gluten-free biscotti I made for my friend Andi here.)
  • Do pre-package your cookies for each guest to make life easier for you, your guests, and to protect against any contamination.
  • Don’t overdo it. No one likes a show-off at a cookie exchange (unless you’re showing off how many cookies you can eat).
  • Do make sure to bring along a copy of the recipe just in case any one wants to try it out for themselves. (The only exception is if it’s a super-top secret family recipe.)
  • Don’t take it personally if someone declines your cookies! It’s probably got more to do with their personal tastes than it does your baking.

As for baking inspiration? Well around this blog, we’ve got plenty. In my last post I talked about all the Christmas cookies that I usually make every year, but the recipes found here and here are also great to make as take-alongs. I even participated in an online cookie exchange once. I’ve also been amassing a list of recipes that I’d like to try here on Pinterest.

What are you making for Christmas this year? Are you and your friends holding a cookie exchange? Let us know all the details by commenting below or emailing me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com

And hey, I realize I am not the only baking blogger on the blog. If you’ve got some great recipes you’re sharing on your blog for Christmas (or any other holiday) leave a comment below with the name of your blog and the link to your favourite recipe.

Can’t wait to see what you guys have been baking!

Holiday celebrations can be fun, but only if you can ensure that things go smoothly. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to social gatherings, there are still plenty of ways to get your holiday game on. Click here to read more of them, or click here or here to read about some of the other best practices I’ve been trying to put into my place in my life.

Do you have any tips on how to survive the holidays? Save us by commenting below or email your suggestions to keepingbusyb@gmail.com

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Ready, Set, Celebrate!

Now that Halloween has passed we’ve all inevitably started talking about the holiday season. (Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving a little earlier, so there’s really nothing else to look forward to during the month of November.)

This is the time of year when everyone’s schedules start filling up with celebrations and social events. Unfortunately, each of those events come with its own set of tasks that make people start feeling frantic instead of festive. There’s just so much to do. A friend of mine put it very eloquently: “I love Christmas, but there’s just so much s@&! to do!”

Planning is kind of my thing, so I often share how I organize my holidays on the blog: here’s how I get a head start on Christmas cards, how I plan my gift shopping and my Boxing Day strategy. If you really have the drive to plan far ahead, you may find this post on cleaning up after the holidays useful.

For the past couple of years I’ve carried out the Swedish tradition of baking seven different cookies at Christmas time. Here’s what’s been in my arsenal so far: Traditional Swedish Gingersnaps, Maple Butter Cookies, Jam Slices, Vanilla Horns, Rugulahs, Orange Crunch Cookies, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Midnight Mints, Butterscotch Confetti, Date Pecan Bars, Chocolate Roll, Pineapple Log, Marshmallow Roll, Butterscotch Bars etc. (Stay tuned- in the month of December I’ve got seven brand new cookie recipes for you I think you’re going to love.)

I love writing about the holidays and all the kindness it brings out in people, but I realize for some there can be a dark side of the season. A couple of years back I had a very difficult Christmas so I channeled that energy into writing a blog post about being alone during the holidays– and how you’re really not alone if you feel that way. (You may also want to check out this post if you’re feeling down.)

And if that isn’t enough holiday goodies for y’all then you’re in for a treat- for the next six weeks or so I’ll be sharing more of my favourite holiday recipes, some fantastic Christmas gift ideas and some of my secrets for staying sane during this busy time of year.

Don’t worry if even reading this post is giving you the shakes; this holiday season, we’re all in this together!

Holiday celebrations can be fun, but only if you can ensure that things go smoothly. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to social gatherings, there are still plenty of ways to get your holiday game on. Click here to read more of them, or click here or here to read about some of the other best practices I’ve been trying to put into my place in my life.

Do you have any tips on how to survive the holidays? Save us by commenting below or email your suggestions to keepingbusyb@gmail.com

Shop on Boxing Day the Smart Way

After all the hustle and bustle and spending way too much money before Christmas, it seems illogical that so many people would be so interested in doing a whole lot of shopping after complaining so much about the Christmas rush. But being a girl who’s careful about she spends her pennies, here are the rules for all of those brave enough to venture out Boxing Day shopping.

  1. Thou shall makest a plan. Brave the surly crowds by planning the stores you want to visit ahead of time and prioritize your shopping needs to the basics you need for your wardrobe or your house. This is the best time of year to try and find classic pieces that go on sale in order to make room for new inventory.
  2. Thou shalt shop intelligently. Check the original price of an item to see if you’re getting a good deal. Phrases like “Save up to…” or “Blowout!” are designed to fool you into thinking you’re saving big when the difference is really only a couple of dollars. And only participate in buy one, get one deals if buying the extra item is actually worth it to you.
  3. Thou shalt consider online shopping. You can scope out sales at your favorite stores ahead of time, and sometimes the discounts online are even steeper. Plus, there may be more availability when it comes to size and color preference.
  4. Thou shalt not be foolish. It’s not worth it unless you really, really love it. When it comes to clothing, I have a rule: if I can’t wear it at least three different ways using what’s already in my wardrobe, I put it down and walk away.
  5. Thou shalt buy your Christmas stuff now! Everything will be at least 50 percent off or more, which means you’ll save money and be super prepared for the next holiday season.

And please, never, ever, EVER return an item or do an exchange on Boxing Day. Some stores won’t even allow it. Check your receipts to see when they start accepting exchanges. Even if it appears possible, don’t do it unless you absolutely have to. You might get beaten over the head with the shopping bags of angry customers if you’re holding up the line debating with a stressed-out, over-worked employee.

But most importantly, be kind and courteous to others when you are shopping (that includes store employees)! It’s not a competitive sport- it’s supposed to be fun, right? RIGHT?

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