The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Spill the Cookies: Money-Saving Cookie Swaps for Time-Strapped, Frugal Cookie Lovers

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Homemade cookies are my only weakness when it comes to sweets. I'm more of a potatoes-pasta-rice comfort food seeker. But cookies... sigh. My will power to resist simply breaks down when I'm faced with a plate of those deceptively wicked temptations of crunchy or melting perfection.

No matter what diet I'm on, I can turn down cakes and pies and ice cream without any effort, but cookies are my woeful downfall. My husband's and son's, too. Robin Olson understands this widespread cookie obsession and knows that homemade cookies, while fabulous, take a big chunk out of a working person's weekend to make.

Making several varieties in one stint is a near impossibility time-wise, not to mention the expense. This is even more true during the winter holidays. So, some years back, Robin created a detail-packed website to teach us all how to easily have the best of both worlds: helps save money, save time, and save sanity. Plus, everyone gets a wide range of delicious cookies. I encourage you to check out the site.

On her website's home page, she explains the history of her cookie exchange:

In 1989, my friend, Holly Murphy and I decided to bake some cookies together so that we could bake twice as many and share them. I went to the bookstore in search of some new cookie recipe books for our little venture. I found one entitled "The Wellesley Cookie Exchange" and bought each of us a copy. "Why don't we do a cookie exchange like they do in this book," I suggested to Holly. "We can then sample dozens of cookies that we don't have to bake!" She loved the idea and now it's been many years and thousands of cookies later. At the time I lived in Santa Barbara, California and Holly and I co-hosted the exchanges together. When our family moved to Maryland, I knew this holiday tradition had to be kept going. Boy, would I have missed having everyone walk through the front door with all those cookies!

The Cookie-Exchange website contains practical advice on how to conduct the exchange and "do's and don'ts" that should be set in place ahead of time to avoid problems. Baking tips and photos are included. Cookie recipes on the site, all dated, go back to before the year 2000. A sample of posted recipes from 2002 include Coconut Pecan Bar Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars, Chewy Chocolate Peanut Bars, Lithuanian "Little Ears" Cookies, and Butter Krisps. Readers are encouraged to submit their favorite cookie recipes and information about their own cookie swaps. The site also offers an e-newsletter and a new section with low-cost gift ideas. Sweet!

Additionally, Robin has become a published author and has a HUGE cookie party cookbook available on The Cookie Party Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Cookie Exchange is chock-full of cookie exchange party information, ideas, and umpteen tantalizing recipes. Click the book image below to give it a once over and to order it — an exceedingly frugal investment.



In a recent email from Robin, she shared this valuable, frugal tip on the cost of cookies... I didn't know this:

It costs an average of $10 bucks to make 6 dozen home made cookies... (72).

If you had to go to a real bakery - that same 6 dozen would cost around $150.00! (It's about $25 per dozen here in the DC Metro area at a real bakery. Grocery store bakery are around $10.00 per dozen.)

For super-charged working business women (and men who also love cookies), Robin pooh-poohs the idea that they are too busy to have a cookie swap. She feels that not only are these productive events that are great for networking, but it seems that the busiest of people are the ones who seem to enjoy the cookie exchanges the most.

As of this writing, it is the day before Christmas Eve. I currently have a fresh double batch of Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough that's been chillin' in the fridge since late last night and I'll bake tonight after work (gotta have them ready for Santa, after all—per surveys, Google Trends, and bloggers, they're his favorite cookie). I had also planned on making a big batch of peanut butter cookies, but ran out of time and energy. Next time 'round, I think for Christmas we'll have our own cookie swap with friends and family here in the Valley of the Sun.

And then, not only will I have my mandatory chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, but I'm hoping to also try out some rich Swedish cookie recipes. To top it off, there'll be a dozen other tantalizing varieties as well.


Chocolate chip cookies are a national favorite in the US, and according to surveys, Google Trends, and bloggers, they are Santa's favorite, too. | Photo credit: Charles M. Wrenn III,
Chocolate chip cookies are a national favorite in the US, and according to surveys, Google Trends, and bloggers, they're Santa's favorite, too.



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