Now that Day of the Dead is over, I like to begin planning my annual cookie exchange party! Last December was my 15th year to have a cookie swap and I always like to work with a theme. Last year, since it was my 15th year, it made perfect sense to celebrate it as my Quinceañera! (More on what this means in a moment!)
Every year my invitations go out at the beginning of December. Everyone brings 12 dozen of their ONE favorite cookie and they leave with 12 dozen DIFFERENT cookies! I always have margaritas, taquitos, and other snacks and my mother brings her homemade salsa! I shared her recipe for this salsa last year in a blog post – check it out! It’s delicious!
It’s always funny when someone new comes to the party. When I say bring 12 dozen of one cookie – they usually contact me to make sure they read the invitation correctly! So I’ve started putting on the invite – “yes, you read that right! 12 dozen of one cookie!” Anyway…
Every year I like to have a theme for my party and a special party favor. One year we were The Real Housewives of Birmingham and I made aprons for everyone with the Real Housewives logo! Another year, we had tacky Christmas sweaters and I had plenty of extra sweaters for those who forgot to wear one!!! Another year, I everyone wore their favorite Christmas pins and I gave everyone a Christmas pin as they left. It’s sometimes a challenge to come up with something new but I love a challenge!!!
So the Quince was a fun theme to work with. As a little background…a quinceañera is a coming of age celebration for a young Latina girl. It’s like a sweet 16 party but there are several special traditions that take place for a “quince.” Traditions also differ for many of the Latin American countries. For instance, in Mexico a young girl might have her Quince following a religious Catholic mass. A young girls’ godparents will typically give her a rosary, a necklace or bracelet with the image of Mexico’s patron saint, the Virgen de Guadalupe. She is also given a tiara as a gesture of love from her immediate family and can be interpreted as being a princess before God and the world. The young girl also typically leaves a bouquet of flowers on the altar for the Virgin Mary.
Borrowing from a few of these traditions, I found some beautiful bracelets with crosses that I used as party favors. I decorated a small gold tree with these bracelets and everyone got to choose the one that most suited their taste and personality. I also provided everyone with small crowns to wear for the party. Honestly, I think everyone was most excited about the crowns!!! My friends were helping one another by teasing up their hair so the comb attached to the crowns would stay in place. It was comical and fun and I even pulled out a can of hairspray to help out with all this! My dog, Lucy also wore a crown – and I seriously don’t know how it stayed on her head but she looked cute and fit right in with everyone else!
Now back to the cookie swap…
All the cookies are placed on my dining room table in their original containers. Remembers, this is 144 of one type of cookie! The smell of sugar is always overwhelming and the presentation is always beautiful! I encourage everyone to bring an empty container that will hold 144 cookies but in case they forget, I always provide large boxes for them to use. Next we all gather in a circle around the table and everyone begins by taking 8 cookies from each type. We tend to get into a bit of a bottleneck around the table and it becomes quite amusing with some of my more competitive friends who urge those ahead of them to “hurry up!” Seriously, by the time everyone has gotten around the table, their boxes or containers are quite heavy! Then everyone goes back to their favorite cookie and takes a few more. It all works out in the end and everyone leaves with a beautiful assortment to share with family, friends and co-workers over the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Ideally you would have 12 friends bring 12 dozen of one cookie for everything to come out evenly. However, over the years my party has gotten pretty popular by word of mouth and photos on social media that I have people ask if they can join in the fun! I’m all about the more the merrier so of course, my answer is always yes!
This year will be my Sweet 16!!! Stay tuned for some fun photos and delicious cookies!