Friday, December 20, 2013

Our Holiday Party: Cookies & Hot Chocolate

If you’re a procrastinator who loves Christmas - how do you make sure your Christmas decorations get up before Dec. 24?  Host a holiday party.  For us, that means our annual cookie exchange.

As always, we ate way more cookies than any person – child or adult – should at one sitting.  Probably more than anyone should eat in a week.  But I’m pretty sure that calories consumed amongst friends are good for you.

Chocolate definitely was the – unintentional – theme this year. 
  • chocolate chip - an annual favorite, one family always brings these and no-one else bothers to even try to make chocolate chip
  • chocolate wafers – perfect to go with coffee, if there were any left
  • chocolate covered marshmallows – okay, not really a “cookie” but who’s going to argue when “chocolate” and “marshmallow” are in the name
  • cheesecake bars
  • shortbread cookies with pecans, chocolate dipped and plain – these were our contribution
  • brownies

Cookies packed up ready to share
Since it was freezing cold on the day of the party (I was actually nervous we’d have to cancel for snow), I made hot chocolate in the crockpot.  Of course, I saw the idea on Pinterest and thought “genius!”  Hot, unburned, creamy chocolate. 

Turn the crockpot on, let it heat a little bit. Pour in the can of condensed milk, sprinkle in the melting chocolate.  The kind I used was in little slivers.  Mix until melted together, it’ll be dark and thick. Add a teaspoon of vanilla.  Pour in milk, about a half gallon.  Mix.  Let heat.  Taste, adjust to your preferences.
Hot chocolate fixin's
For a bit of added fun, we had a fix-ins tray for the hot chocolate: marshmallows, mint chocolate chips, chocolate chips.  Kahlua and peppermint schnapps was an adult option.   

As you know, when hosting an event at your home, there’s a lot of prep from getting the food on the table to  putting clean towels in the bathroom.  Usually, when we have a family party, I call out tasks as a kid happens to wander through the kitchen. Not such an efficient plan. This year, I wrote the tasks that needed to be done on cards - clean the bathroom, make table cards for cookies, set out cookie trays, put candy in bowls, set-up plates & silverware.  The kids then picked out their cards and went about getting their tasks done. They seemed to not only like being useful, but took some ownership in their jobs.

My daughter used scrapbookbook paper to make blank table cards for the cookies (guests filled them in when they arrived).  The kids taped together 3 candy canes to make the card holders.
As the children have grown (we’ve lost count how many years we’ve been doing this but there were some kids who didn’t even exist when we started), it’s been harder to find a date that fits perfectly for everyone. We usually have families rolling in before or after a basketball tournament, soccer game, chorus performance, birthday party, or something.  This year, to make it easier, I decided that we would just order food, cooking a few sides, so that we could concentrate our kitchen time on the star of the party. It also made transport of food easier in a busy schedule.

As always, we had a great time.  But with cookies and friends, how could you go wrong?

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