How to Host a Cookie Swap Party

Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party

Do you remember what it was like when you were a little kid the night before Christmas or your family trip to Disney World? It was SOOO hard to go to sleep because of the excitement in the air. As an adult we have fewer of these nights, it’s more like I can’t sleep because I have a huge presentation to give tomorrow. The night before a cookie swap party is full of that same little kid excitement for me… why?

The smell of sugar in the air, friends laughing together and a good old wine buzz. What could be better? (I know we still get excited for trips to Disney but this is just as good nowadays! Well, only as long as some point in the party you all karaoke “Let it go”.)

Hosting a cookie party can seem overwhelming but really it’s quite easy. First, start with the basics. Then if you have time add in some special holiday touches!

Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party

Let’s look at the basics. What makes a cookie swap party so fun, besides the booze? It’s sharing memories from your childhood. Reminiscing baking with your grandma. Maybe its the thrill of scoring your first bag of holiday cookies that you wait for all year long (HELLOOO White Fudge Covered Oreos!). Perhaps it’s as simple as just getting 100% totally into that cheesy holiday spirit.

Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party

  • Start with a list of friends: I prefer a small group of about 8 to a large group. It is hard to test 12 -15 cookies (but, you can totally take on the challenge with a high risk for a sugar hangover).

  • Get the invite out early: Holidays are a busy time make sure everyone has time to plan. A good rule of thumb is to ask the your friends to bake 3-5 cookies per person coming. 3-4 weeks before the event takes place is a good time to send out the invites. Evite has several cute designs for cookie swap parties.

  • Gather Decorations: Take a few trips to the Target dollar section and the holiday section at Michael’s. Fun and silly accessories can make a cookie swap party feel so festive! You can also gather DIY Pinterest ideas along the way.

  • Non-Sweet Snacks: Most likely your friends will try to save on calories and skip dinner, HUGE mistake. With all of that wine and sugar, you need some protein and something salty. Make sure to have a snack display for munching.

  • Buy Booze: Decide if you want a signature cocktail or just stick with something simple. I love to use frozen fruit in champagne. Simple but luxurious… and not something your boyfriend would appreciate as much as your girlfriends :) Don’t forget lots of wine…

Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party

Beyond these basics you can add in some holiday spirit with fun photo props. I’ll just go ahead and assume at least two selfies per guest will be taken! So obviously silly Santa and reindeer props will be a plus.

Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party

Fun straws, or special glasses really brighten up your display. I love C Wonder for their multi-use cocktail glasses, you can use their glasses for just about any occasion.

Before the party have your friends email you the recipe so you can print them out for everyone. I’m not saying everybody’s grandma has the best cookie recipe but some do, and you will want to make them again.

To put a bit of fun competition into the party hold a secret ballot and pick a winner for best cookie. Fun baking gifts and cookie books are a great give-away.

Festive doggie bags are cheap this time of year. You could even buy re-useable holiday themed plastic tubs. Most everyone will clean up pretty well with lots of left overs. I usually take mine to the office the next day… If they stay at my house I will eat them. In fact while you’re preparing to host your cookie swap party go ahead and lose 5 pounds because that’s the average that I usually gain each year from this party. (I may be over preparing you here… but just trust my experience!)

Dont forget to bake your cookies...

Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party

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I know this all sounds like so much but stick to the basics and if you’re feeling adventurous or have extra time, pump up the holiday cheer. Remember if you have lots of booze, good friends and sugar its bound to be a good time. Don’t worry about “nailing” too many of those Pinterest ideas!

Happy Cookie Planning!

Not So Perfect Life- How to Host a Cookie Swap Party

 

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Cure All Ginger Broth


Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth

Back when I lived in NYC I was near to no less than three juice stores. Anytime I started to feel that tickle in my throat or the over tired even though I did nothing feeling I hurried to get a ginger fireball aka a shot of pressed ginger with orange. Ginger fireball was my cough syrup, my Emergen-C and I really really miss it.

At home  in Chicago I have juiced ginger with my blender and a nut milk bag. It is a manually intensive process and you get too little for all that effort.  While tasty we all need a quicker way to get those nutrients into our body, one that requires little effort. Vola… Cure All Ginger Broth.

Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth

A little garlic for taste, a couple of lemongrass stalks for complexity and whatever random broth veggies you have on hand. (Do you end up with tons of carrots and celery taking up space in your fridge? Throw them in!)

A chop, smash, sauté and 20 min wait and you have a thick dark golden broth…

Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth
Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth
Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth

Lemongrass is super cheap so I highly recommend you buying a stalk or two. Remove the outer layers and chop off the bottom and top. If you have never cooked with lemongrass know that it is not an easy one. I could probably write a whole post about it! For the purpose of this recipe just chop and toss it in.

Halfway through and that dark color is coming alive! Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth

 

Cure All Ginger Broth

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 2 Cups Broth

Cure all ginger broth.

Ingredients

  • Fresh Ginger, about the size of your palm
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Stalks Lemongrass, outer layers removed and ends chopped off
  • 2 Stalks Celery
  • 4 Cups Water

Instructions

  1. Chop the ginger into quarter inch cubes, no need to be exact.
  2. With the back of your knife and the palm of your hand smash the garlic and ginger.
  3. Heat a medium sized pot to medium high. Quickly dry sauté the the garlic and ginger until you start to smell the flavors.
  4. Add water and remaining ingredients.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove cover and simmer until golden brown, about 10 more minutes.
  7. Strain broth and enjoy!
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When your done please make sure to enjoy it in your favorite cup. This is mine :)

Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth
Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth


Warm toasty and good for your cold…

What home remedies do you have for when you need a boost? 

Not So Perfect Life- Cure All Ginger Broth

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NYC Marathon 2014: New Marathon PR!

 

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

This Sunday I set out for revenge against one of the most miserable days in my life, the 2010 NYC Marathon. Literally I can not believe that I was able to not only set a PR but enjoy EVERY step of the way. Don’t get me wrong not every race is like that, but I am thankful that over anything I was able to stay mentally strong and feel good for the entire 4:14:32.

Marathon week is in my humble opinion one of the best weekends every year in New York. A certain energy takes over the city and there are runners EVERYWHERE. All of the local running stores are filled with special events and sponsors. Jack Rabbit my old local store had Saucony in house with lots of giveaways.

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

In true marathon fashion the expo (for 50K plus runners) was a mess but at least they had great gear! I recommend to go early and get it over with that way you’re not on your feet all Saturday.

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

While in NYC make sure to do lots of Pizza carb loading in the city and don’t miss a much deserved salt bagel.

Ok, flash forward to marathon morning… I took the 7:15 Staten Island Ferry. A taxi to a ferry to a bus, yes it’s a long journey to the start of the race. I highly recommend signing up early for the bus transportation to race start, its much easier. This years race was extremely windy and most people were trying to huddle inside as long as possible so the ferry station in Staten Island was jam packed. There are plenty of port-a-potties in the athletes village so don’t worry about waiting in the long lines at the station.

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon 1 Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

I got to the village about an hour before my 10AM start time. I used that time to body glide up, get all of my gear ready for the race and use the restroom one (or two) more time. The wind was blowing so hard I was getting nervous but tried to keep a positive mindset.

Frank Sinatra then Alicia Keys and Jay-Z’s  “New York” pumped us up for the start, a quick gunshot and your off… over the Verrazano Bridge. The winds were blowing so hard from the side that I really thought I was going to blow away. I figured at that point the next four hours of my life were going to be tough… Luckily we ran mostly north and south and avoided much of the direct wind during the rest of the course.

My goal was to run around 9:45 min miles, just running what pace felt good and for the most part easy. I hit several 9:13 min miles from 5-14 which felt good. By Mile 15-16, the dreaded 59th street bridge, I had banked a bit of time so I could afford to take it easy. This mile was one of the toughest for me given my 2010 experience, but I was feeling so much better than last time at this point and just took the climb slow.

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

First avenue was even more packed than I expected! My friends caught some great pictures of me. Believe it or not I actually still felt awesome at this point.

And even though I was watching my min per mile pace I did not look at my overall time… Yes that’s right I ran 25 miles until I looked at my time. This way I just ran what felt good not what I needed to set a PR.

Peter, Amanda and Brittany were at mile 25 and caught me just after I looked at my time, 4:04, “I’m going to set a PR!!!”

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

 I. Can. Not. Believe. I. Did. It.

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

Nothing hurt too bad the entire race. The last few miles were tough but I made it… The worst part of the whole race is the finish shoot. WHY oh WHY must you make me walk a crowded mile right after I ran 26.2? Even if you signed up for no baggage the walk is still long and miserable.

But anyway I made it… and walked 2 miles back to my hotel where I proceeded to have some post race back pain and really sore feet. I’m guessing adrenaline blocked that pain during the race! I felt 100% better this year than 2010… #nopainonmyface.

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

It was so nice to see all of my friends and enjoy NYC for the weekend. As much as I have enjoyed living in Chicago I still really miss the “city”. My friends are the best cheerleaders and carb loading buddies

Again a big thank you to everyone, even those random drunk people along the course with crazy signs!

Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon Not So Perfect Life- NYC Marathon

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