Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had the chance to ring in 2014 with love ones and good eats.

Before welcoming the New Year - and all half-empty promises of new diet plans and exercise routines - I thought it would be a good idea to bring my friends together for a cookie exchange party. I've done this last year and the intent for this year was just to have my favorite people come over my apartment and eat all the leftover baked goods they made for other holiday occasions. I also took this as an opportunity to see if I could really use my oven and make edible treats. (Don't tell my friends that I was actually using them as test guinea pigs.)

Here are some of the "guidelines" I sent my friends for this cookie swap in the form of a Q&A:

QUESTION #1: "So how many cookies should I make?" 

ANSWER: Doing some extensive research on cookie swap parties (Yes, Google this. There's alot of info out there.), you should make about 5 DOZEN cookies. Oh, and bring copies of the recipe to share. 

QUESTION #2: "Did you just say 5 DOZEN cookies? Mary, I have a family/active social life/work/long distance to drive to get to you/'don't-give-a-crap' mentality. I can't make that many cookies."
ANSWER: Fine. Make, like, 20 cookies. Actually, whatever. Just bring enough so that everyone can taste. 

QUESTION #3: "Actually, I don't feel like baking at all. So, I'm not allowed to go to your party, right?"
ANSWER: Yes, you're absolutely right. I will turn you away if you have no cookies. KIDDING. (Kinda.) No, really, if you can't make cookies, come anyway. I really just want to see you. 

QUESTION #4: "I know you're lying. You really want me to bring cookies. Okay, if I can't bake, are there other things I can bring?"
ANSWER: Sure. Bring booze. Or leftovers from your own holiday party. Bring something edible or drinkable. If none of that is do-able, just bring your sparkling personality. In any case, just write on this event wall what you're bringing so we don't end up with like 7 bottles of Yellowtail Pinot Grigio and a veggie platter.

QUESTION #5: "If I don't come to this, will we still be friends?"
ANSWER: I don't know. If you bake like 5 dozen cookies to make up for your absence, we can talk. 

Pretty easy rules to follow, right? Well, it looks like my guidelines inspired some baking or at least scared people enough to bring whatever was in their fridge. It was a success based on the spread:

I should've enforced a "stretch pants" only dress code.

And you know what? My cookies didn't come out so bad either. Feel free to click on the links below if you want to try making these treats yourself. If I can do it, well, it's because it was either super easy or a holiday miracle. 

Here's to a new year of adventure, good food, and love all around. Happy New Year!

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