Office Cookie Exchange: The Event

After a lot of math and baking and decorating, the day of the cookie exchange finally arrived. I was excited and hoped that everything would work out in the end.

Here we set up the samples for people to try. You may remember those trays, vases and plastic wine glasses from my Fall Mexican Themed Cocktail Party. One trip to Party City supplied two different little get togethers. I thought about making little centerpieces, and pretty much wandered around town looking for the best option. I sort of had candy canes in mind, but spotted some ribbons at the newstand and stuffed those in the vases.

 You can spot my Sol LeWitt and Edward Hopper cookies. Also molasses cookies, almond cresents, mini cheesecakes, lemon poppy seed thumbprint cookies with raspberry filling, chocolate crinkle cookies, pumpkin cookies, pecan sandies and chocolate chip cookies. Not pictured are a few kinds including sugar cookies and chocolate chip chai. I just put a ribbon where the salsa went during the last party it was used at.

Here are also some peanut butter kisses and more jam thumbprint type cookies. Also, a second kind of chocolate crinkle cookies which differ from the first only because they don't have mint extract. Despite trying to make sure everyone had different types, we did end up with a couple replications - but we can't help people changing their mind at the last minute. And since we only got 3 of each person's cookie, it was no big deal.

Then the madness began. It felt like an adult version of trick or treating. Everyone ran in filling their bags with prebagged three cookie portions of each kind. It was pretty exciting. We continued to taste some of the ones left out for samples (people brought 6 of their cookies for sampling). There were extras people were able to take to afternoon meetings and leave out for non-bakers.

Here are some of the prebagged portions.  Look at all those cookies!

I think overall it turned out great. One thing I got from the planning of my wedding was a fondness for planning parties. It is so fun to bring people together and make something fun with very little expense. My grandma always said "You make your own fun", and I feel like there is some truth to that. All parties, from a wedding down to an office cookie exchange have a similar trajectory. You get the idea, and you get really inspired. You put in some hard work. Then you have a very brief spike of a feeling right before that it may not work out the way you hoped (it is five minutes before a whole bunch of people are supposed to show up at your house - you are pulling all the food out of the oven, assembling a salad and think "What if no one shows up after all?"). Of course everyone does show up, and then comes the moment where you are impressed by your own abilities and can't believe how fun it turns out. You see people having fun and appreciating everything you did, and think "Wow, without our initial inspiration this moment wouldn't have existed at all!".  Then in a flash, it is over and you think to yourself "That went well!" It is immensely satisfying. It is not about me or showing off my skills of cooking or decorating (though having an audience is fun - how else could you ever justify making Baked Alaska or Beef Wellington?).  It is about trying to make it fun for other people, and a lot of the time trying to introduce people to each other. Many people said the cookie exchange was more fun than a secret santa or white elephant type of arrangement where people may feel more pressure or awkwardness. We thought it helped that no one had to participate in the cookie exchange if they did not want to.

I know that previously I was down on Christmas, but today I got a real dose of the Christmas spirit. Because what says "Christmas spirit" more than standing around with your coworkers with a glass of sparkling cider in a green plastic wine glass yelling out "Look at all those cookies!!"

I always liked this quote from the character of Tim in the British version of the office: "The people you work with are people you were just thrown together with. I mean, you don't know them, it wasn't your choice. And yet you spend more time with them than you do your friends or your family. But probably all you have in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day." It is so true. You didn't pick these people, you share the same carpet, you talk about the weather, and yet when you work somewhere long enough if you were to ever leave you would miss them all so much I'm sure it would mean something. It seems important even at work to acknowledge that another year has gone by, and try to be a little festive. That being said, people seemed interested in having another cookie exchange next year. Perhaps then I will make Assyrian Relief and Andy Warhol cookies.


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