The ladies in our local Pinterest Partiers group are sometimes very ambitious. The past few years we’ve merged our homemade ornament swap with a cookie swap. And if it sounds like a lot of work, it is. 😉 But if it also sounds like a lot of Fun Times, it’s totally that, too. 😉 We’ve adjusted our swaps each year according to how many people want to participate, how busy we all are, etc. So I want to give you a few tips on how to organize similar events in YOUR area. Because at the beginning, we had to figure out all of the logistics and it was a little confusing! Now it only takes a few tweaks and we’re ready to go! =)
Two years ago we even swapped ornaments long-distance with Keli! We Skyped with her and everything.
So let’s talk logistics. First of all, we created a Pinterest Partiers group on Facebook. At the beginning, we had several events throughout the year – a Valentine’s Day event, an autumn tea party, a pumpkin decorating party, even a couple of baby/wedding showers for our members. The past few years, we’ve slowed down because we’re all so busy. (This year, the only thing we’ve planned is our upcoming cookie swap with this year’s tweak on the ornament situation…this time we’re not doing an ornament swap, but as the hostess, I’m gathering supplies for each of us to make an easy-yet-super-cute ornament to take home with us.)
Next up, we use the survey capabilities to ask the Facebook group how many people are interested in the swap that year. It’s a good idea to start this process at the beginning of November, so people have plenty of time to make homemade ornaments. Then we survey the group to decide on a date and ask if anyone wants to host the group in their home. We usually alternate between 2 or 3 homes because not everyone has the time or room to host a large gathering during the holiday season.
Once the date is set, you’ll need one more confirmation of the number of ladies participating. We create a Facebook event within our group so people can RSVP. (That also helps with getting out details for the party itself without inundating the whole Pinterest Partiers group.) We usually set a deadline for a solid YES – early to mid-November is ideal for this, too. Participants will need PLENTY of time to decide on their ornaments, purchase the supplies, and actually make them.
The ideal number of participants for a BIG ornament swap is about 12. We’ve added in a few more than that from time to time (we don’t want to leave anybody out!) but once you start getting in the teens, it can get pretty tiresome to make that many ornaments. (Each person would make 12 ornaments – 11 for the others, 1 for you.) Plus, if you’re like some of us, you’ll want to make some extras – for your mom and/or daughter(s); as Christmas gifts for other family members and friends. So that can quickly get overwhelming! 😉
An idea that I totally think would work if you had closer to 20 interested ladies is to have two groups of participants – maybe divide them up into a Cute-and-Easy Ornament group and a Cute-and-More-Complex Ornament group. (Because you’ll have people of all crafting abilities and time limits to make intricate Christmas ornaments. These people will even probably vary from year to year, according to what’s going on in their personal lives…more than one toddler in their home? Cute-and-Easy all the way!!)
You can also offer an idea we’ve done several times – there might be a group of ladies interested in making just ONE homemade ornament each. And then those ladies swap and they each go home with one ornament. Still fun but a whole lot less ornament prep involved!
As for the cookie swap, you can decide about a week before the swap exactly how many ladies want to participate. Some years all of our ornament ladies also do the ornament swap, but it doesn’t have to end up that way. If there are ladies who are diabetic or don’t want extra cookies hanging around their house afterwards, anyone can feel free to opt out of the cookie swap. OR there may be some who want to do the cookie swap but NOT the ornament swap. Tailor it to your group’s particular needs!
To make sure we don’t ALL bring salted caramel mocha cookies or some such thing (sometimes we’re all on a similar wavelength!), we start posting our intended Pinterest recipes on our FB event page.
Last year I made hot chocolate cookies. =) Aren’t those teeny tiny marshmallows the cutest??
At the party, one of the hostesses will provide little tags and some Sharpies to label each type of cookie and who made it.
After the party, I always make a group board on Pinterest and invite everyone to add their recipe and ornament links to it. Here’s an example: 2014 Ornament and Cookie Swap,
Cookies are delicious, but it’s also good to have a few savory items to snack on at the party…a cheeseball with crackers, sausage balls, and chips & dip are good options. A few ladies are always willing to bring something savory. You’ll also need drinks – I usually provide coffee and creamers when I host and ask others to bring some 2 liter soft drinks.
Once you know how many are planning to do the cookie swap, you can tell everyone how many cookies each lady will need to bring. Again, tailor this to your group. We usually say 3 cookies per person to take home, but we also taste the cookies during the party (cutting each cookie into bite-sized pieces – no one wants to eat 12-20 whole cookies all at once!!) And some years we have goodie bags/boxes available for everyone to pack and take to a friend or shut-in who needs a little extra Christmas cheer. So maybe 5-6 cookies multiplied by how many people are in the swap. We usually end up bringing about 5-6 dozen cookies. Yep, that’s a lot. 😉 But it’s a super fun event and you can easily turn it into a service project at the same time!
An important thing to tell your guests is to: 1) bring their cookies on a big plate/platter/container and 2) bring a 2nd container to take home the variety of cookies in. If you’re also making goodie bags/boxes, the hostess can provide those. Tell your guests ahead of time to be thinking of a shut-in or someone who could use a little dose of Christmas happiness.
If you’re reading this and it’s already December, you won’t have time to do a BIG ornament swap, but there’s still a chance to get your girls together and have a cookie swap and ornament party like we’re doing this year! (As I mentioned before, I’ve gathered the ornament supplies – every guest is bringing $3.00 to cover those costs.) Just get together and enjoy each other’s company! We girls love a Christmasy party. =) And then spread the Christmas cheer by each packing a to-go box or bag for delivery. =)
I thiiiink I’ve covered everything. If you have any questions, though, let me know!
Want to save this post to remember for later? Pin it! Want to get up your own Pinterest group? Share this on Facebook and tag your crafty friends!
See our friend Becky’s post for a sweet mother-daughter spin on the traditional Christmas cookie swap.