OFFER RIBBON AND OTHER TRIMMINGS Offer ribbon or waxed twine that guests can attach to gift tags, holly leaves, beads, and tiny bells. Holiday stickers seal pack- ages and double as tags. Decorative hole punches can be used on boxes, and then they can be finished with ribbon. DECORATE YOUR PLATE Consider edging paper plates with pinking shears, setting it on a different colored plate, and topping with tissue. Guests can arrange a selection of cookies on top and slide it into cellophane for a simple holiday gift. Or, set out your decorated platter of cookies and display it on your holiday table. PREPARE FOR THE SWAP On the day of the party, brew plenty of coffee and tea, and clear a few tables for sampling, swapping and packaging cookies. Provide several platters and cake stands, and have each guest put out a plate of cookies for tasting, with stacks of recipes alongside if you like. Let everyone sample the treats — and maybe even take a vote on the best one. When it’s time to trade, set out the remaining cookies and let guests walk around the table to pick up their share of each. Or, have people take only what they need to package one gift. SNOWMEN SHORTBREAD 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup blanched almonds 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting 1 teaspoon pure almond extract 20 | WINTER 2018 | ASHLAND LIVING 1. Sift together flour and salt into a small bowl. In a food processor, pulse almonds until finely ground (do not overprocess, as nuts will turn into a paste). 2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add confection- ers’ sugar, and continue to beat until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes more. Beat in ground almonds and almond extract. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with spatula if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers. 3. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic and form into a flat disk; wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight. 4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness. With a lightly floured 4-inch snowman cutter, cut dough into shapes, and arrange 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Re-roll scraps, and cut out more shapes, if desired. Chill 20 minutes. 5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake until shortbread is firm and just starting to color, rotating sheets halfway through, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer cookies on sheets to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with sugar. Shortbread can be stored in an air- tight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.