Party in Five: Wintry Cookie Swap

Find out how to throw a classic cookie swap with holiday decorations and recipes for cookies and hot drinks.

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Camille Styles holiday cookie swap

Photo by: Buff Strickland ©Buff Strickland Photography 2012

Buff Strickland, Buff Strickland Photography 2012

We here at Cooking Channel love a good party. But throwing a memorable event requires more than just gathering some food and drink. We show you how with just five main “ingredients” (including recipes, big-impact decorating ideas and easy DIY elements) you can throw a party that feels like it has a cohesive theme — minimal work required.

The holidays are all about spending quality time with friends and family, so I love hosting a fun and festive gathering that allows me enjoy their company — not spend an entire day preparing for the event.  This year I decided to host a simple, old-fashioned cookie swap, reimagined to feel like a cozy mountain ski lodge. With an abundance of plaid and both vintage and handmade details, it sets the stage for mugs full of hot beverages and indulgent sweets. The best part about this party concept, though, is that everyone brings their own batch of homemade cookies for potluck-style eats, and by sending printable recipe cards along with the invitation, you'll have favors ready for everyone (that they'll actually use).

To throw your own cookie swap, you'll need five essential ingredients:

• Recipe cards ( download the template here)
• Homemade cookies
• Apple cider with cinnamon
• Mini faux pine trees
• Paper cookie sleeves ( download the template here)

Click here to see the party in action and get tips on hosting your own cookie swap.

Camille Styles holiday cookie swap

Photo by: Buff Strickland ©Buff Strickland Photography 2012

Buff Strickland, Buff Strickland Photography 2012

The Menu

For my contribution to the cookie party, I baked some of my favorites: Peppermint Meltaways. (This recipe's prep time is under an hour and they absolutely melt in your mouth!) All of the cookies were delicious, but two other crowd favorites were the  Snappy Ginger Cookies (with an amazing creamy cranberry filling) and Peppermint Fudge Crinkle Cookies. Needless to say, the leftovers didn't last long.

I couldn't possibly serve cookies without milk. While I had plain 1% on hand for guests to enjoy, I also whipped up a more adult version combining brandy and nutmeg to create a classic "brandy milk punch." It's always good to have a fun nonalcoholic option as well, so I also served warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks.

Camille Styles is the founder and editor of lifestyle blog camillestyles.com, where she shares creative enterta ining ideas for parties and everyday life. She also owns Camille Styles Events, a design and planning firm that transforms ordinary events into extraordinary experiences.

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Bake G. Garvin's white chocolate peppermint cookies.

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Can't decide which of your favorite holiday flavors should be represented in your cookie swap contribution? Why not combine three flavors in one conveniently popable bite-sized cookie?

31 Days of Cookies: Christmas "Circus" Cookies

Make your own green, white and red icing- and sprinkle-covered "circus" cookies and cut them into cute Christmas shapes for the perfect holiday season dessert.

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Bake Kelsey Nixon's peppermint meltaways for your cookie swap.

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Make Chrissy Teigen's rum balls to spice up your holiday party.

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