Over the years I have taken part in many cookie exchanges during the holidays. My favorite were the ones where you would trade your cookies along with the recipe used to bake them. I collected alot of really great recipes and ate way too many cookies! I always enjoyed getting together with a group of friends and visiting during the oh so busy holiday season.
Nowdays I don't feel the need to collect 12 or 15 dozen more cookies (mainly because I end up eating most of them myself!!!) and would rather spend more time quilting than baking an additional 12 to 15 dozen cookies on top of my other holiday baking needs. Since I still love the socialization and the basic idea of the exchange, I wasn't ready to just give it up. So a couple of years ago, a group of quilter friends and I began our "Holiday Fabric Exchange".
This exchange can be modified to fit your group's needs. Keep the rules simple. You need to decide what you will be exchanging. If you are going to exchange finished blocks you need to plan far enough in advance to give everyone ample time to finish all of the blocks. Remember, if you have 12 quilters at the party, everyone would need to prepare and bring 12 quilt blocks to exchange. Don't forget to exchange the block pattern too. You also need to decide if you are going to regulate the style of the blocks (patchwork, applique, stars, nine-patch etc.) or the fabrics used (blues and yellows, holiday prints, scrappy etc.) so everybody knows ahead of time what is expected of them.
My group is always terribly busy and we don't want anyone to be left out or feel like they can't join in because of limited time or too many rules so we have developed our own twist to the exchange. We exchange fat quarters instead of completed blocks!!! There is almost no preparation time (maybe a fancy fold or a pretty ribbon tied around it) so no matter how busy you are you can still participate. Everyone has a great time and goes home with some new additions to their fabric stash. Best of all --- they don't go bad or get stale if you don't use them right away!!
You could also exchange 1 yard pieces, 10 inch squares, charm squares or 2½ strips. The possibilities are endless so invite some friends, get a few refreshments ready and put a ribbon around your exchange pieces. Have fun with the exchange and again after the holidays when you create a new quilt out of the pieces you collect!!!
Happy Holidays and Happy Quilting,