Throw a Favorite-Things Party for the Holidays

Tired of the cookie swap? Broaden the menu by inviting guests to bring over sweets of any kind, then engage them in this interactive "favorite things" party.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Kathryn Cooper, Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Emmer Schmidt, Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Matt Peyton. 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

A Few of Their Favorite Things

This year, throw a desserts-only fete inspired by the favorite-things parties that have risen in popularity among bloggers and on Pinterest. Invite guests to bring at least a dozen of a certain sweet treat, and when they arrive, place their cookies, candies or cakes on display with a number. (You can use a typical table number stand or photo frame.) Halfway through the event, invite guests to pick a number out of a hat. The number they pick represents the batch of desserts they are welcome to take home or trade with another guest. It makes for a refreshing update on the cookie swap and enables guests to take home treats that they can share with their family or regift to others in the spirit of the holidays.

Candy Cane-Kissed Peppermint Patties

These peppermint cream and chocolate cookie sandwiches would already be festive, bearing the season's favorite flavor pairing, but a half-moon hat of chocolate-mint cream and crushed peppermint makes them downright iconic.

Get the Recipe: Candy Cane Kissed Peppermint Patties

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Bark with Bacon, Pecans and Chile

Sweet, spicy, crunchy — this ultimate popcorn has it all. It combines just about everything that's delicious: dark chocolate, vanilla bean, smoked bacon, chipotle powder, pecans and more.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Bark with Bacon, Pecans and Chili

Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina

This unbelievably easy Florentine orange cake from Debi and Gabriele is traditionally made in Italy around Easter, but bright citrus sweets are welcome in the dead of winter –– when oranges are, in fact, best.

Get the Recipe: Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina

Walnut and Dried Cherry Bars

Topped with a glossy layer of apricot preserves, these chewy, energizing bars are wonderful for breakfast, a snack or a healthy dessert. The sweet, nutty flavor is offset by tart dried cherries.

Get the Recipe: Walnut and Dried Cherry Bars

Chocolate Anise Cookies

Ground anise seed lends its licorice-like flavor to these biscotti, making them perfect for pairing with an Italian after-dinner liqueur.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Anise Cookies

Graham Cracker Toffee

This four-ingredient recipe turns graham crackers into chewy, nutty, caramelized bars. Simply top them with a butter, sugar and nut sauce and bake for 10 minutes.

Get the Recipe: Graham Cracker Toffee

Homemade Pomegranate-Lime Lollipops

Don't be fooled by these lollies' cherry-red color: They pack a tangy-tart punch, made with pomegranate juice and flecked with lime zest.

Get the Recipe: Homemade Pomegranate-Lime Lollipops

Vanilla Almonds

These sweet and salty cinnamon-and-vanilla-scented almonds are the sort of lick-your-fingers-clean snack mix that you'll always wish you'd made more of.

Get the Recipe: Vanilla Almonds

Midnight White Chocolate Cherry Bark

Dried cranberries or other fruits add color and sweet contrast to this double-chocolate and peppermint bark, which gains its beautiful striated color from a surprising hardware-shop tool.

Get the Recipe: Midnight White Chocolate Cherry Bark

Chile-Cinnamon Brittle with Mixed Nuts

Rachael roasts almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts to really develop their individual flavors before preparing this brittle. A bit of chile powder and cinnamon add heat and spice, and she limits the amount of sugar used, to render a truly savory brittle.

Get the Recipe: Chile-Cinnamon Brittle with Mixed Nuts

Sea Salt Caramels

Crafting a fine caramel is a true art, and New York City confectioner Liddabit Sweets, who specialize in caramels in all sorts of flavors, know a thing or two about the secret sweet science.

Get the Recipe: Sea Salt Caramels

Spiced Ginger Rum Balls

Chrissy Teigen's colored-sugar-flecked chocolate balls are as spicy as she is sassy, and with 1/4 cup of dark rum, are delightfully boozy –– perfect for holiday parties.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Ginger Rum Balls