Better Than Cookies!

Better Than Cookies!: Ideas for Family Giving This Holiday Season

By: Kelly Streck, Director of Community Engagement

My family started a tradition 4 years ago making about 5 dozen cookies and delivering them in cookie bags to friends and neighbors in our neighborhood. It all started with the idea to take a bag of cookies and a card to our elderly neighbor who is all alone and only goes out to doctor’s appointments. But then, if we take cookies to Joyce, we should take some cookies to our next door neighbors too. And what about Rob across the street? And from there it snickerdoodled into 5 dozen cookies, a whole mess of frosting, and sprinkles everywhere!

Which is why, when I’ve gotten the occasional invite for a cookie swap party, I look at my kitchen and groan. We do not need to make a dozen more cookies, and we certainly do not need to bring home a delicious assortment I won’t be able to resist. But, I do (desperately) want to see my friends and get together for this season, however we can. What to do?

A woman profiled in the Better Homes & Gardens 2020 issue turned her cookie party into a cookie and toy donation party! Ibie Falcusan orders plain sugar cookies for her guests to decorate at the party. Instead of making their own cookies, guests bring toys to the party and after decorating cookies and maybe sampling one or two for quality control, they take the cookies and toys to a nearby non-profit for their holiday toy drive celebration.

In doing just a little bit of research around town, I found the cookie part is tricky, in that many places can’t accept homemade goodies. A Precious Child in Broomfield is one fabulous exception! They will gladly accept beautiful cookies and toys for their Precious Gift Program. They are accepting gifts between November 8th and December 10th, details included here.

Another idea for a giving party that doesn’t involve baking – or buying – of any kind: host a Pink Elephant party. Each guest gathers 8-10 new or very gently used items from around their house. Guests then “shop” among the goodies and select items they can either use themselves or re-gift with a little creativity. We also start now, cleaning out toys and books we are all done with or have never really used to share with others – whether it be friends, a donation to ARC, or toy drives when appropriate.

Here are some additional ideas, any of which could be easily paired with a toy drive/supply drive for your favorite local organization:

  • A used/new clothing drive party: A Precious Child is also coordinating clothing drives for Afghan refugees coming to Colorado. “Our team will start prepping culturally appropriate clothing, but any donations of new socks, new underwear, new/used coats, new/used culturally appropriate clothing please direct to our Donation Center located at 7051 W. 118th Ave Broomfield, CO 80020 – Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00PM.” Contact programs@apreciouschild.org for more information.
  • A card making/decorating party to give to those in assisted living facilities, kids in children’s hospitals, nurses and doctors in hospitals: especially the COVID wards, and First Responders. Spark the Change Colorado’s Senior Companion Program would welcome cards for their aging clients! Many of them are blind or visually challenged so textured cards with cotton ball snowmen, glitter or sequined trees, textured candles, etc. for all the holidays would be most welcome! Contact Laura Kinder for delivery information at lkinder@sparkthechangecolorado.org.
  • Care Package drive and assembly party: (socks, snacks, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, ect.) for those in need. Ivory.com/kindness has a great list of suggested items for your care packs. You might also connect with local non-profits serving the homeless population to get their ideas for care pack needs you can hand out from your vehicle as needed. Denver Rescue Mission or Colorado Coalition for the Homeless are two such organizations.
  • Make blankets or gather blanket materials for kids in shelters, hospitals or anywhere a kid needs a blanket: through ProjectLinus.org. Colorado has Chapter Coordinators in Denver, Durango Area, Grand Junction, and Northeast Colorado. Information here.
  • An ornament making party: Make ornaments for teachers and the admin staff, counselors, lunch team, etc. behind the scenes that don’t get the traditional classroom gifts that teachers often do.
  • In case Virtual Parties are the thing – due to distance or COVID – host a Zoom shop-a-thon: at ChildsPlayCharity.org where you can find Amazon wish lists made by kids in children’s hospitals. A Precious Child also has Amazon wish lists for their kids, parents and teens. Participants can Venmo donated money to the host who can then share their screen and browse toys together.

Crafting, giving, and having fun makes me hungry! Cookies are always great ideas to help generate energy for all kindness involved in these parties.

Here’s to a generous, thoughtful and kind holiday season.

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