I usually start prototyping the design in Spring. I carry it around with me for a while and let people beat it up a little just to make sure it's construction is sound. It's a trick I've learned over the years. That first book, six years ago, while cool and fun, is flimsy and prone to coming unstuck here and there. As a result, I do repairs on the fly each year during the exchange.
I try to match the annual theme of the cookies to the book. But again, that's something I learned after a few theme less exchanges. The first real theme was 'Colorful Christmas Cookies'. This came about after the previous year's cookies, although all tasty, were all different shades of brown. I wanted to give away trays of colorful cookies, so that's why I picked that as our theme. We had "Death by Chocolate Christmas Cookies", which were of course, back to a lot of shades of brown, but it was chocolate so who cares, right? We did "Bite Sized Christmas Cookies" the year after the cookies were just too damn big. This year I struggled mightily to come up with a theme. Together with Colleen and Rosemary, I finally settled on Christmas Squared. More on that after the exchange this year....
Here are some shots of the past cookie books. You can see how the books get better constructed over time.
2006 was my first year at this and I must admit, it was a lot of work. I designed a die for cutting the pages that Legacy was kind enough to have custom made. In looking at the thing now, I can see where I could have engineered that better.
Because 2006 was daunting, I opted to add pages to the 2006 book for 2007 and increase the size of the binding rings. This was only marginally successful.
2008 is the colorful book. Each page is an envelope where the recipe fits.
2009 was bite sized. The book was intended to be round like a cookie, but after playing with it, there was no doubt about it's ornament orientation. So, despite there being a bite out of each page, as if the cookie was bitten, it still looks like I bit an ornament. Oh well...
I should add that my cookie that year was a from a Halloween recipe, so I took liberties with my own page. I've been trying to get the girls to 'bite' on a Halloween cookie exchange instead of Christmas, but it's been no deal so far....
2010, still trying to get that Halloween idea off the ground, Cheryl came up with Death by Chocolate and away we went. Everyone got a little skeleton ornament and the papers were all very muted and dark. Still Christmas, but darker than most.
Enjoy! - AMK