Girls’ night cookie exchange

aka why I’ve been in a sugar coma pretty much all week. #worthit

Hi friends! How are you? Happy almost-Friday! What do you have going on today? I’m excited to catch a yoga class later, and also enjoy some last-minute secret Christmas elf shopping. We had been holding off on our *big* gifts for the girls – we couldn’t decide, and didn’t want to do a playset since we’ll be moving in a year-ish – but finally made our decision. While spending time with the family is the best part of any holiday, I get a kick out of surprising the nuggets on Christmas morning. 

There have been a lot of fun events going on lately, and a notable one was girls’ night at our house: a little cookie exchange.

Before we left San Diego last year, our friend Cam hosted the most amazing cookie exchange at her house. She had gorgeous gift stations set up throughout the house, and it was such a fun way to get together with friends and share a variety of sweet treats. I knew immediately that I wanted to host one in Valdosta, and was pumped that the timing worked out for so many friends, as a lot of people are traveling for the holidays.

Here’s how a cookie exchange works:

-Each guest brings around 3 dozen or so of their favorite cookies, so there’s a huge assortment of different flavors and options.

-You pack up a mix of all of the offerings to take home.

These make perfect impromptu gifts (like when someone shows up with a gift for you that you were NOT expecting, you can easily reciprocate minus any awkwardness) or to freeze for Christmas morning. You bring out a tray of 15 different types of cookies and everyone thinks you were baking ALL WEEK. It’s brilliant, really.

Packing table

I set up a little packaging station in the corner of the dining room–forgot to get a pic when it was totally set up. It was a photo finish getting everything set up and the food out before everyone arrived–with different types of cookie tins, boxes, tissue, bows, tags, etc.

And the most important part: cocktails + food.

On the menu:

Homemade sourdough bread with marinara dipping sauce (in the cast iron, I baked up some marinara with sliced mozzarella and torn basil)

Bread and salad


maple-roasted carrot salad

baked shrimp scampi

Shrimp scampi

an enormous cheese board

Cheese board

(+ a smaller version since I had so many ingredients)

and sourdough crackers. I can’t help but feel guilty every time I throw sourdough starter away (like, “I made you! I fed you! I took care of you! BYE” It’s just so wrong), but have found a great use for it in these crackers. The girls love them dipped in hummus or Ranch, and you can use any herbs or flavors you have on hand. We change up the flavors each week, and Liv had the genius idea to use the Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning. Just add 1 heaping tablespoon to this recipe. BOOM. The best crackers!

Girls night table

To drink, we had holiday spice sangria in the slow cooker and chilling in the ice bucket: homemade egg nog (using the infamous recipe), Prosecco and champagne. 

The assortment of cookies was pretty insane!

Gingerbread, chocolate peanut butter, sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, truffles, mint chocolate…the list goes on and on.

Cookie party

Earlier in the week, Liv and I put on our baking pants to make these jam thumbprint cookies,


(They are excellent! Definitely a new tradition)

Mexican wedding cookies,

Julie’s Holiday Puppy Chow,

Puppy chow

and almond butter truffles.

Almond butter truffles

I froze everything so all I had to do was defrost a couple of hours before the party.

We had the best time snacking, packing up our cookies (I handed everyone a small tray and that’s how we transported the cookies we wanted to pack back to the table), and chatting until late with mulled wine and eggnog. It was a perfect bit of holiday cheer in the middle of the week! 

Cookie party

So, tell me friends: are you baking this week? What’s your all-time favorite holiday cookie? I love Mexican wedding cookies because they make me feel all the Tucson feels.

What’s on the menu for your holiday festivities?

Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

Christmas Eve: steak, lobster, salad, baked potatoes

Christmas brunch: cinnamon rolls, Nana’s egg casserole with pico de gallo, fruit salad

Christmas dinner: poke bowls! 

Have a great morning and I’ll see ya soon. Thanks for stopping by the blog today! 



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  1. Cassie on December 21, 2017 at 7:02 am

    You’re moving again so soon? It seems like you just got to Valdosta.

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      yeah it will probably be spring 2019! crazy

  2. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on December 21, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Mexican wedding cookies are my favs too. What a fun way to get together with friends!

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      they’re SO good!

  3. Alaina D. Burran on December 21, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I’ve always wanted to do this, couples’ style. However, what do you typically do with the girls during this time? My children are three and one, so I know it would be an epic disaster doing this in the evening for adults only! Tips?

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      whenever i host parties, the pilot or a babysitter will be with the girls. the other night, he took them out to dinner and the playground, then brought them inside to start the bedtime routine. once i had an earlier party, so our babysitter played with the girls upstairs in the playroom

      • Alaina D. Burran on December 22, 2017 at 9:23 am

        Good to know! Thanks for sharing! 😀

  4. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-Ups on December 21, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Mexican wedding cookies are soo good! I am planning to decorate sugar cookies with the babes this weekend and am really looking forward to that.

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      so fun! i think we might do the same 🙂

  5. Jen on December 21, 2017 at 9:30 am

    I just absolutely love all the entertaining that you do! The cookie exchange looks like so much fun and I love that you served up some savory food with all the sweets. Merry, merry friend! xx

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      thank you, friend! wish you could have joined us! <3 your sourdough is life changing, btw 😉

  6. Amanda on December 21, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Your cookie exchange looks awesome. I had baked (and frozen) a lot of my holiday desserts before Thanksgiving. Last weekend was kitchen blitz part 2. I baked peanut butter bars, mandelbrot, banana bread, chocolate macaroons, and Mississippi Mud pie. Oh, and a batch of lentil soup. Needless to say, my freezer is packed and awaiting my family. (Truthfully, macaroons are for emergency gifts and the pie is my contribution to my friend’s family Christmas dinner.)

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      you are a rockstar. all of those sound amazing!

  7. Janice O'Kane on December 21, 2017 at 10:51 am

    You make me want to do full on Christmas baking! Maybe next year will be homebaked goodies for everyone. There is something so satisfying about spending time in the kitchen baking and packaging with love. Ina’s baked shrimp scampi recipe looks so yummy. I’ll be serving that on New Year’s Eve!

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      i totally agree! baking is so meditative, and liv and i had fun making all of the cookies together 🙂 hope you love the shrimp scampi, too!

  8. Juliana on December 21, 2017 at 11:39 am

    This is such a great idea! Every year I keep meaning to plan something for the holidays and never do. Maybe next year!
    Btw how hard is it to make sourdough? We are having crab for Christmas Eve dinner and that would be great to go with (though probably a “for future reference” thing).

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      it’s surprisingly easy! i was intimidated by the starter thing, but if you follow the directions, it’s no big deal. it’s totally ruined store-bought bread for all of us, though

  9. Kirsten on December 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Such a gorgeous event that you hosted! The cheese board looks to die for! Good work!

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      thank you so much! <3 hope you're enjoying the week!

  10. Liz on December 21, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Omg, I used to feel HORRIBLE when I made kombucha and had to get rid of the scoby! It literally tore me up inside! I used to keep the babies with the mama for batch after batch until the scoby looked like a huge stack of pancakes. So I totally get the sourdough guilt haha

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      i’m so glad i’m not alone haha! the scoby thing used to bother me, too. i’d almost always find a friend to adopt the baby scobies 😉

  11. Kelli @ Hungry Hobby on December 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    We planned our holiday menu around what we got from Butcherbox plus what others want! Ham, Salmon and LAMB! I’m super excited about the lamb i feel like it’s such a special treat!

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      that sounds amazing!
      i want to try butcher box! can you customize it if you don’t eat certain meats (since i don’t usually do pork or lamb)?

  12. Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona on December 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Your cookie exchange looks like it was a success. The bread and marinara dipping sauce look absolutely delicious.

    • Fitnessista on December 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm

      thank you, friend! hope you’re enjoying the week!

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