Last week in my post, 10 Ideas for Giving Back this Holiday Season, I mentioned that we were hosting a Holiday Cookie Party for a Cause. I really wanted to celebrate the season, visit with friends, and give back to those less fortunate in our community.
We had the best time, gathering with friends, catching up, and doing good. This party was so easy to pull off. On the invite (I used facebook, but, paperless post or similar would work as well) I told everyone to bring a dozen cookies to share and either a non-perishable food item and/or new unwrapped toy for donation.
I set up my table with trays, created a hot chocolate station, and made some hot spiced (mulled) wine. That’s it! I love hosting and entertaining but, sometimes it can be a lot. I wanted to be able to enjoy our friends and this simple set up made that possible. Here’s how to pull off a “Cookie Party for a Cause” with no stress!
We needed a place for everyone to drop their donations. Our house is pretty small, so, I put a couple baskets in the laundry room. It is right behind the front door, so, people could drop what the brought as they came in. Also, we’ve been living in this house since April and it took this picture to realize that one of the pieces of tile is not lined up! It’s crazy how your brain makes you see what you think you should and not what’s actually there, sometimes.
Hot Chocolate Station:
I set up a Hot Chocolate station with marshmallows, candy canes, Hershey kisses, and whipped cream. Y’all, this is seriously the best hot chocolate you will EVER have. Try to ignore the ingredients (you will gain weight just looking) and enjoy! I got the recipe here.
Best Hot Chocolate EVER
- 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
- (1) 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 6 cups milk
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups of chocolate chips (milk chocolate OR semi-sweet)
- Pour all the ingredients into a crockpot and whisk together until well combined. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.
- Whisk well before serving.
- Garnish as desired (which means MARSHMALLOWS of course!)
Spiced Hot (or Mulled) Wine:
One of my besties and her husband lived in Paris for a year and Seth and I went over for a visit for Thanksgiving. Our favorite part was the Christmas Markets. They are so festive and they all serve Hot Wine. I fell in love and now I make it every chance I get! I got the recipe here.
- 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine (choose something fruity but not too sweet. Merlot, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon all work well)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 2 cups apple cider
- 5 whole cloves
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole star anise
- 1/4 cup brandy
- Orange slices, for garnish
- Cinnamon sticks, for garnish
- Add wine, cider, honey, orange zest, and orange juice, and brandy to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker or pot.
- Stir to combine.
- Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and anise.
- Cook on low until warm, 30 minutes to one hour, depending on your slow cooker or stove. Do NOT let it boil!!!
- To keep the wine warm, leave the slow cooker on the "keep warm" setting.
- Or, if you made it on the stove, alternate between "low" and off.
- Garnish with Cranberry, sliced orange, and rosemary sprigs.
I have a lot of white serving pieces and I used them to set up the cookie station. I bought paper plates and napkins and I also got some place cards and put a marker out, so that people could write down what kind of cookie they brought. As people came in, I grabbed their cookies and put them wherever there was room!
This is a must! Unless you want to get stuck with a ton of cookies after everyone has left. I bought some treat bags and stickers from the Dollar Store and put them on a tray for people to grab before they left.
We collected so many great things for our local charities and it makes me feel so happy to be able to give back!