Turning a bridal shower into a cookie swap is a sure winner. Trust me; in my seven years as a bakery owner, I saw thousands of weddings! Everyone’s a sucker for cookies – including the bride. After months of restraint to fit her wedding dress, she’ll be yearning to indulge, if only for this brief time. And if cooking isn’t her forte, all the better. The sharing of recipes is sure to point her down a tastier path. (Caution: As fiercely progressive as you may be, never underestimate the connection between a well-fed husband and a happy home life!)

Tiers of Joy (Cookie Swap, 2009)
Tiers of Joy (Cookie Swap, 2009) Photo by Steve Adams

A simple cookie exchange is fine, particularly if your time is short. But, truly, just a little attention to a few details is all that’s needed to make your swap stand out. Here are three handy tips from my new book Cookie Swap to help get you started . . .

Wedding Cake Cookie Boxes (Cookie Swap, 2009)
Wedding Cake Cookie Boxes (Cookie Swap, 2009) Photo by Steve Adams

1 | Tie your cookies to the party theme.

Every bit of reinforcement – down to the details of what’s being eaten – serves to set a festive stage. For this party, I fashioned wee wedding cakes (top photo) from orange-scented shortbread rounds. The rose cake-toppers are handmade from fondant, but readymade royal icing flowers can be easily substituted in a pinch. (For the complete recipe, you’ll have to buy Cookie Swap. Remember, this is just a teaser!)

The Cookies Inside (Cookie Swap, 2009)
The Cookies Inside (Cookie Swap, 2009) Photo by Steve Adams

2 | Dispense with ho-hum paper plates.

Give your guests a cleverer and prettier container – a true keepsake from the event that they’ll be sure to remember. Here, I embellished ordinary craft paper boxes with silk flowers, strands of pearls, and vintage wallpaper and lace, and then stacked the boxes end to end to mimic wedding cakes. (See second and third photos from top.)

Cookie Cake-Topper (Cookie Swap, 2009)
Cookie Cake-Topper (Cookie Swap, 2009) Photo by Steve Adams

3 | Add color, fragrance, and flavor in one fell swoop with cookie décor.

And simultaneously eliminate the need for pricey flowers and other party props! As you’ll see in Cookie Swap, I’m a big fan of peppering my parties with edible surprises, such as the cookie cake-toppers shown here (bottom photo). I planted several of these beauties around this cookie swap and then gave the guest-of-honor the pick of the bunch for her wedding cake. To make: Decorate three cutout sugar or gingerbread cookies with Royal Icing (two matched cookies for the top-piece and one larger round or oval cookie to make the support). Once the icing has dried, “glue” the two matched cookies back to back with thick Royal Icing; then glue the top-piece to the support cookie, propping it upright with paper towels until the icing has thoroughly dried. If stored in airtight containers in a dry place, toppers should stay lovely looking for several months. (Though if you intend to eat them, it’s best to make them only a few days ahead.) For my Royal Icing recipe, see the link below.