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Pied Piping and a Cookie Exchange

A Bit of Bragging…

I have been called a “Pied Piper” by my husband and others.  Ric Hertless may have been the first to proclaim this in a work setting.  I didn’t know how I felt about the moniker.  It sounded to me like all I did was try and get people to do what I wanted and that smacked of manipulation.  However, upon reflection, I think that I just get board and when I do, I try and get people I love and enjoy to come play.  So far, we have come up with some interesting reindeer games…

Burch Beach

Like the time we built a beach in our backyard.  We hosted a luau for Jerry’s parents’ 5oth Wedding Anniversary.

After their celebration, we used the space to host “beachy” gatherings like oyster roasts and woodfire grilling suppers.

Wine Tastings, Murder Mysteries, and Crawfish Boils…

There was also the period where we were hosting wine tastings.  Everyone brought a bottle of their favorite wine and an appetizer to share.  In a blind tasting, we all voted for our favorites and the winners took home the kitty ($5 per entry).  All that was needed for this event was some brown paper sandwich bags, sharpie markers, wine information sheets, voting sheets, and a lot of cheap wine glasses. (*Best advice I can give is this: glasses are going to get broken.  Use ones that don’t matter.)

Murder Mysteries were a hoot.  Margaret insisted we go get our nails done the day of the first one.  She sat and chatted to me (in character) the entire time.  I know that the nail technicians thought we had escaped from an asylum somewhere.

Crawfish boils in Virginia were a bit more involved than ones hosted in Texas.  One year, we flew crawfish and gulf shrimp in from Louisiana.  We served 88 people that year…in the freezing cold.  It was a largest party to date.  Last year, we invited dear friends over for crawfish in our new house.  We had driven to Louisiana for a quick fishing trip and brought back the crawfish.  Before we could cook them, the little darlings escaped their bags and wandered around the house.  Captured once more, they were sorted by my brave men, to include little John Warren who showed great promise with dealing with the mudbugs.  Beth’s swamp blood is much appreciated!

New Shenanigans…The Cookie Exchange

It was time to do something new and I had always thought that a cookie exchange during the holidays would be fun.  We took the plunge and just announced one morning in church that we would be having a cookie exchange.  There was no date set and I didn’t have any clue what to tell people beyond “bake cookies and I’ll tell you when to be at my house.”  It was the worst party planning I have ever done.

Thank goodness for group text messages!  A date was set and the guest list firm up along with the types of cookies that would be arriving.   This party was a bit on the selfish side, however.  I love having a huge variety of treats at Christmas.  It looks more festive to me than having a batch of one kind of cookie.  One year, Jillian and I made six or so different kinds of cookies and we were overrun with them.  It was just too much.

And so, a cookie exchange seemed like the way to go.  I made cookies.  I cleaned house and then I made a hot mulled apple cider and a nice cold cranberry punch.  People started showing up and putting their cookies around the island in the kitchen.  We visited for a while.  Many went and looked at the Homestead as it was the first time they had been here.

Cookie Exchange Lessons Learned

It was an easy party to throw and it took the place of the traditional gift baskets we normally give out.   It did take a bit of organizing and, of course, I found a book I had on how to host a cookie exchange after I made a royal mess of an attempt to get the party organized.  Things I learned?  I think we maybe won’t bag the cookies next year and let everyone just bring cookie tin(s) to fill with whatever they enjoyed.  I definitely enjoyed the husbands coming.

Cookie exchanges are great ideas for bakers.  The number of cookies may seem daunting to non-bakers, however, and I had a couple of folks opt out for that reason.  Mostly, I realized how great it is to gather people you love together for an easy evening of fellowship.  Cookies were just bonus.

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