Every year, the women in my family get together for a cookie exchange party (don't ask me why the men aren't invited; some of my favorite cookies come from my male friends). The rule is that the cookies have to be homemade and you have to bring enough for everyone to share. We sit around, drinking hot cocoa, eating cheese and crackers (and cookies, of course), and playing silly party games.
At the end of the party, each of us takes a plate and fills it with the different cookies that everyone brought. That way, when we come home, we've got a big variety of holiday sweets to share with the family, instead of just one batch of cookies.
The apps below are my go-to apps for finding the perfect cookie recipe, preparing for the festivities, and being the hostess with the mostest.
- Epicurious Recipes
- Things 3
- Recipe Organizer
- Heads Up!
- Apple Music
Be the cookie boss
The one thing you don't want at your cookie exchange is 15 batches of chocolate chip cookies. Finding the perfect cookie is a year-long endeavor, but you can get your last minute ideas from Epicurious. Around this time of the year, the app is updated with cookie frenzy fun. You can get all kinds of inspirations for awesome cookies, watch video how-tos, read reviews from others that have tried out the recipes, and add ingredients to your shopping list so you can get what you need from the store. There are dozens of great cookie ideas, so you won't be left without knowing what to do for your party.
- Free - Download now
I've mentioned this before, but Pinterest is seriously awesome when it comes to saving ideas for later times. I've got a board specifically for cookie recipes that I might bake for the exchange party. I add cookie recipes all year long so I don't have to scramble to find something at the last minute. If you make a batch of cookies that turn out to be the hit of the party, you can easily find it on your board for next year, and you can also use Pinterest for decorating ideas and other holiday festivities.
- Free - Download now
Get ready for the sugar rush
Your party will go off without a hitch if you plan for it properly. The best way to stay organized is with Things. It's got everything you need to create individual task lists or dig in deeper with full project planning. You can set due dates for items, create reminders, calendar events, and more. If you don't have a specific time, just set the deadline for "This Evening" or "Someday." You can check your many to-do items by viewing your list by what's coming up, what's due today, or pick a specific date. My favorite feature is that Things is also available on macOS and you can save all of your to-do lists in the cloud and access them across all of your devices. You can even connect Things to your built-in Reminders app and use Siri to set up tasks, which will be sent to the Things inbox.
- $9.99 Download now
One great thing about throwing a cookie exchange party is that you can also exchange recipes. You can ask everyone to send you their recipe in advance, and then you can add them all to a single recipe organizer to share with everyone. The great thing about this Recipe Organizer is that you can also take a snapshot of a handwritten notecard and add it to your virtual box. There are always going to be a few people that waited until the last minute and are going to hand you a piece of paper with quickly scribbled ingredients on it.
- Free - Download now
Let's rock this shindig
You don't want to end up with a house full of sugar-filled guests with nothing to do. Every year, we try to come up with a new party game, but we always play a round or two of Heads Up! because it's just to fun to watch Aunt Sally try to figure out which way to tilt the iPhone when she gets it right. Right now, you can download a free holiday pack that includes songs, items, and characters that are iconic for the season.
- $0.99 Download now
Of course, no party is complete without a soundtrack. Apple Music is the perfect streaming service to provide you with all the music you need to create a party playlist. You can also download tunes for offline listening, just in case your party is out of Wi-Fi range. Incidentally, even if you don't have a subscription to Apple Music, you can listen to one of the holiday-themed streaming radio channels. You just don't get to select the songs.
- $9.99 per month - Learn about Apple Music
What's your cookie party plan?
Do you have your own go-to apps for planning your cookie exchange party? Let us know in the comments. Maybe I'll try yours out this year.
Updated December 2017: Added Things 3 to the list.