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The Annual Cookie Party

My mom laid out my cookie options in front of me. On the right plate, I had what she called a “cowboy cookie,” a brown sugar cookie made with cinnamon, chocolate chips, and oats. On the left plate, I had a chunky, chocolate chip cookie, sprinkled with peppermint bits and oreo chunks throughout it, and dough made with oreo cream filling. I tried each one, chewing slowly and thoroughly. The Cowboy Cookie was the favored competitor, but the oreo peppermint cookie surprised and delighted me with its rich, but never overwhelming, sweetness. So, the oreo peppermint it was; the cookie would be my mom’s entry for the 2021 annual Christmas cookie competition, a party my mom and her best friend, Susan, have been hosting in our small hometown in Florida ever since I was little. Their holiday party mantra is that Christmas cookies, and consequently holiday cheer, are not meant to be enjoyed alone; the cookie party gives longtime friends the opportunity to share festive goodies and familial traditions with one another during a season where people often need it most.

Each December, several days before Christmas, my mom and Susan would host around thirty of their friends at our house. Every person was expected to bring a platter of cookies, with each entry being tailored to one of the two categories: taste or appearance. During the party, guests would meander about the different platters to taste and judge each cookie. Then, once their heart felt pulled to both a certain flavor and design, they would cast their votes for the superior cookies. Each guest would also come prepared with many tupperware containers to bring their favorites back with them. Winners in the past have been gifted new cooking gadgets, such as Christmas tree-shaped charcuterie boards or fake snow-dusted appetizer platters, but the real prize for many came from knowing that it would be their cookie that party-goers would be racing to box up and take home to their families; their cookies would be the star providing some fleeting Christmas cheer.  

The 2021 competitors were fierce. People had been saving recipes on Pinterest since last December, and perfecting their recipes for weeks. The taste category was ruled by nostalgic, but also wild flavors. Standouts from this pool were apple cinnamon-oat cookies, sea salt caramel pretzel, and lemon drop snowfall cookies. The real stars of the show, however, were the decorative category contestants for this year. One guest, Annie, created Ted Lasso-themed shortbread cookies. She had packaged each of them into their iconic pink boxes from the show, and had soccer balls and trophies to surround her platter of pink boxes. She then dressed as Ted Lasso and blew her whistle when people would try her cookies. Another guest had decorated her cookies so that they looked like candied apples. A third guest created beautifully glazed snowflake-shaped cookies and had built an entire display for her cookies, so that it looked as if they were sitting in a winter wonderland. Despite the dedicated competition, it was Ted Lasso who took the cake. 

The cookie party is my favorite winter event. The same, close group of friends continuously come together, year after year, to share some holiday cheer over delicious, festive cookies. My mom and Susan work hard to ensure they can provide a positive space for this sharing, as they know how many other people also cherish this event. They already have plans to pass the tradition of hosting onto myself and Susan’s daughter so that we can continue to spread and cultivate this type of Christmas spirit in years to come. I look forward to when my time comes to play a part in helping create such a cheerful environment for some of the people I love most, all through some Christmas cookies.

Cover Photo Courtesy of NY Times

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