How to Make Cookie Favors for a Wedding of Any Size

In the past few years I have made desserts for multiple weddings. It all started my senior year of high school when I agreed to make a three-tiered wedding cake for someone I didn’t know. After making that one tiered cake, transporting it 30-minutes away, assembling it on site, and leaving it on it’s own, I vowed never to make a tiered wedding cake again. It was so stressful and there was so much pressure to make sure nothing went wrong.

Josh and Alyssa Wedding Cookie Bar

I have learned a lot in the years since that large stressful cake, and more recently have made packaged cookie favors for my own wedding, a bride and groom’s cutting cake for my cousin’s wedding, and a plethora of cookies for a cookie bar at another cousin’s wedding. Each time there is still pressure to make sure this dessert is perfect for the bride and groom’s special day, but these projects have been much more doable than that dreaded three-tiered cake. Each project comes with it’s own challenges, but I have learned to have confidence in what I can do well, and what I should stay away from (hello, cupcake frosting). While you may not be asked to make a wedding cake on a regular basis, I’m here to tell you that if you can measure ingredients, you CAN make wedding cookie favors for a wedding of any size!

This past spring I made 750 cookies for a wedding reception cookie bar. There were five types of cookies and twelve dozen of each type. I’m reliving the journey here so you can accomplish this cookie milestone too. Wedding cookies for everyone!

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Six months out: Talk to the bride and groom about their cookie preferences, expected attendance, and number of cookie types. Come armed with suggestions of a variety of your favorite cookies. Get excited about all of the delicious cookie possibilities. Practice the cookie types that you haven’t made before or aren’t as comfortable making.

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Five months out: Put all ingredient amounts for each cookie recipe in one spreadsheet and calculate the total amounts of ingredients you will need to get. Perfect baking times and determine order in which you will make the cookie dough batches. I recommend baking one type at a time so you don’t get confused and mess up a batch of dough. This also cuts down on cleaning time since you don’t have to wash the bowl and beater between two batches of the same type of cookie dough. Create your cookie dough-making schedule based on your availability. Purchase a medium cookie scoop (1 ½ tablespoon) and a small cookie scoop (2 teaspoons). These will be your best friends.

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Four months out: Commence cookie dough making. Avoid stares at Costco as you haul 13 pounds of butter, 7 pounds of sugar, 5 pounds of brown sugar, and the 25-pound bag of flour that you thought no one in their right mind could possibly go through. You will need it all. Clear your freezer to make space for gallon-sized bags filled with dozens of frozen cookie dough balls.
Three months out: Make enough of one type of cookie dough to have 150 (or however many you need based on your headcount) dough balls. Maybe make a bit extra dough for snack.

Talk to the bride and groom about how the cookies are being served and who will be providing the serve ware, displays, and favor bags.

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Two months out: Make cookie dough for two more types of cookies, ensuring that you have 150 dough balls of each type. Play tetris with bags of cookie dough balls in the freezer.

One month out: Make the last two types of cookie dough and scoop 150 cookie dough balls out of each. At this point, you may need to revive your college mini freezer to fit all of the cookie dough. Determine which cookies will last longest without getting stale after they are baked.

Wedding Cookies-4

One week out: Have a minor panic attack because you have to bake 750 cookies in a short enough time span so that they all stay fresh. Also, you have to bake 750 cookies. I feel that should be reiterated. Have a coffee date with friends who give you a much-needed pep talk and start baking, starting with the cookie dough that will last the longest without getting stale, and working toward the most temperamental. I made my most fickle cookies on the day of the rehearsal dinner so they would be as fresh as possible without having to stress on the actual wedding day. Contemplate buying stock in parchment paper. Thank your oven mitt and baking sheets for serving you well and marvel at the newfound space in your freezer.

Place the cooled cookies in plastic containers or metal tins and clearly label them.

How to Make Hundreds of Cookies for a Wedding Reception Cookie Bar | www.passthecookies.com

Day of: Drop of the cookies at the reception with the reception-site event planner. If it is your responsibility, set out the cookies on the cookie bar. Otherwise, make sure the event coordinator understands the labels and has your phone number. Enjoy the wedding and feel a sense of relief and joy as people chew on cookies on the dance floor and stock up on more to take home. At the end of the night pack up the leftover cookies in the reusable containers you brought them in.

Day after: Bring leftover cookies and lots of plastic bags to post-wedding family breakfast and distribute cookies among all visitors for their trips home.

Top photo is of all the cookie bar at my cousin’s wedding by Anna Holcombe Photography.

roasted peach and oatmeal cookie no-churn ice cream

Roasted peach and oatmeal cookie no-churn ice cream is full of roasted peaches, a splash of bourbon, and chunks of chewy oatmeal cookies, swirled into the easiest ice cream base. The flavor combo is AMAZING – I can’t get over it!

Roasted Peach and Oatmeal Cookie No-Churn Ice Cream | www.passthecookies.com

North Carolina had some beautiful weather last week, but now it seems like we are back to the high-heat, high-humidity days we expected for August. I don’t love summer, so by August I am over the stifling Southern summer heat, the 95% humidity days, and the mosquitos that seem to find me whenever I am outside. I think back to summers as a child when my siblings and I would join the neighborhood kids in games of kickball late into the nights and sit on the steps of the front porch after dinner debating the best way to eat popsicles with our parents, as sticky melting fruit pops inevitably dripped down our arms. Those summer days of no school and fun activities were the best.

Roasted Peach and Oatmeal Cookie No-Churn Ice Cream | www.passthecookies.com

While popsicles were a summer favorite, ice cream always reigned supreme in any season. As my family sat around the kitchen table and savored the cold, frozen goodness together, I would often tell my brother, “look, there’s a cardinal out the window!” while I snuck an extra bite of ice cream from his unmonitored bowl across the table. My parents definitely noticed and I’m not sure why they never said anything, but I got extra ice cream, so I didn’t care. Ice cream was the perfect treat for those hot North Carolina summer days, and still is now that I’m out of school and on my own. Homemade ice cream is even better than the store-bought versions, but sometimes can take so much effort to make. That’s why I love this roasted peach and oatmeal cookie no-churn ice cream so much. You get the deliciousness of homemade ice cream, with much less effort!

Roasted Peach and Oatmeal Cookie No-Churn Ice Cream | www.passthecookies.com

The combination of flavors in this roasted peach and oatmeal cookie no-churn ice cream is amazing! The sweet roasted peaches and chewy oatmeal cookies suspended in a smooth and easy no-churn ice cream base are perfectly delicious. Each bite is a little different, but each spoonful brings a bit of nostalgia for those warm, slow summer nights on the front porch.

Roasted Peach and Oatmeal Cookie No-Churn Ice Cream | www.passthecookies.com

I have had delicious peach ice cream before, but roasted peaches are a game changer! The sugars in the peaches caramelize as you cook them and taste so delicious on their own, but even better against the smooth base of ice cream. The oatmeal cookie crumble adds such great texture to the ice cream and makes it taste a tiny bit like a classic peach crumble a la mode.

Roasted Peach and Oatmeal Cookie No-Churn Ice Cream | www.passthecookies.com

Find the delectable recipe over on Lexi’s blog and whip up this no-churn ice cream for your dessert (or sneaky snack). You won’t regret it :)

ps. Want more no-churn ice cream recipes? Check out no-churn chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and no-churn lemon gingersnap ice cream.

link love

Another August weekend is here and it already feels like the month is flying by! It is a very full month for us, at work for me and with a new semester starting for Will, in addition to all of the weekend weddings and travel we have on the agenda. Most of it is good and exciting, but it can be easy to look at the calendar and get overwhelmed. Instead, I’m focusing on the fun and happy times we will have at each calendar item. Instead of feeling the overwhelm from having so many things packed into one month, it allows me to feel the love and excitement that come with each wedding, road trip, family gathering, friend meet-up, and back-to-school event. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

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Below is some of link love for you as you head into your weekend. Let’s enjoy it.

Boden’s new arrivals are AMAZING! I got the catalogue in the mail yesterday and earmarked almost every page. The shoes and this tweed skirt are some of my favorites.

I always like hearing about people’s routines. It is like an intimate sneak peek into their lives, but one that has the potential to improve my routines and life as well. This article on how seven female leaders spend their first hour at work is interesting. The most interesting part is that there are clearly many ways to spend this first hour for a productive day ahead, rather than one pattern they all follow. One of the biggest take-aways that all of them seem to do? Don’t respond to email first thing – do other tasks first.

A few weeks ago I posted a link about the National Geographic Photographer of the Year awards. The winners are in and the photos are amazing. I love reading the captions to learn more about the subject or how the photographer got the shot. Some of the stories make the photograph even more special.

Do you have plans to watch the solar eclipse?! I keep hearing about how awesome it will be and how seeing it will be a memory we have for life, but it’s hard to imagine that. This interactive map is really cool. It shows you what the eclipse will look like from your zip code and where in the US the eclipse can be seen.

When people post a photo of their food on instagram, the first thing we often want to know is, where can I get that, or what is in that. Computer scientists have created an app and a machine learning process that can analyze the photo you are looking at and give you the ingredients and recipe to make it. Crazy!

Happy weekending, everyone!

bridesmaid budget guide

I visited my sister this past weekend and one topic of conversation that came up a few times was the cost associated with being a bridesmaid. We both have lots of friends getting married this summer and have each had the joy of being a bridesmaid in at least one wedding this season. It is no news that weddings are a pricey endeavor, but usually these discussions focus on the cost for the bride or the bride and groom. There are so many great resources out there for wedding budgets for brides, but as my sister and I discovered, not nearly as many for bridesmaids or members of the bridal party. Being a bridesmaid is an honor and a treat, but the costs can add up and surprise you if you aren’t prepared.

Bridesmaid Budget Guide | www.passthecookies.com

Based on our experiences, I put together a general bridesmaid’s budget guide. My hope is that this will help future bridesmaids and allow them to be able to focus on the exciting marriage of their dear friend or family member, rather than the shock of each individual wedding-related cost. (more…)

link love

It’s almost the weekend – we’re so close! I hope you have all had a wonderful week and are heading into the weekend full of joy! I’m going on a girls trip with my mom and sister and I’m super excited. We have taken many family trips, but in the 22+ years that we have had together, my mom, sister and I have never gone on a trip with just the three of us. Besides just being together and chatting up a storm, we have plans for yoga, wine tastings, and decorating, so naturally I think it will be wonderful :)

link love 8.4.2017via

Here is a little bit of link love to enjoy as you sail into your weekend and soak up the August sun.

I have talked about this before in another link love, but having a routine, or at least a plan, is key for me. I still want to enjoy adventures that are not in my plan or routine and make sure I have some time for creativity. I love this post about finding wildness within routine.

Something about looking into someone’s pantry or seeing what occupies someone’s desk can feel exciting and sneaky. I sometimes feel nosy, but my curious side really wants to take a peek into these pseudo-secret spaces. This “desk obsessed” series is so wonderful because it invites you to see what is on the desks of successful business women, shop owners, and designers. It satisfies my curiosity without feeling off-limits and inspires me to include beautiful and useful things in my own workspace. I can’t wait to see the other featured ladies and their desks.

It is always interesting to me when local news makes national headlines. These stories feel so small because we hear about them on local radio, make jokes about them with friends, and could easily pinpoint all of the locations on a map, but I’m reminded that a more than week-long power outage of a long portion of the North Carolina Outer Banks is big news. We are lucky to have both great beaches and beautiful mountains so close by in our state, and I’m sad that so many businesses had to go for a beautiful week without power or customers in this peak tourist season that they rely on so heavily. Without power, businesses closed, and because businesses closed, lots of workers went without money for the week. Power was returned yesterday and the islands opened to tourists today, but businesses won’t get that week of lost money back.

Seeing younger generations and their constant interaction with smartphones is interesting to me. My generation is very different from my parent’s generation when it comes to technology and social media usage, but this next generation is increasingly different from what I experienced. “Screen time” is now a big issue, and the constant phone and social media usage by people in this generation is crazy, and is negatively impacting them. Many of them have had smartphones since middle school or early high school and have never experienced social life without one. This article is so interesting and shows that rates of depression and unhappiness have risen and directly correlate with smartphone usage. I’m guilty of having my phone with me at all times, but let’s put down the phones, talk to real live people, and forget about the fomo.

On a much lighter note, I think we all need this lavender brioche french toast for brunch this weekend. Let’s do it.

Happy weekending!

august goals

Rabbit rabbit! Welcome to August! I’m excited that August means we are nearing the end of summer (and heat and bugs!), but also sad that the flexibility of summer is coming to an end. Since my job revolves around the academic year, with back to school, August usually brings a busier work schedule. However, July has been so insanely busy with week-long events almost every week that I’m looking forward to (dare I say) a slightly slower August. That said, I’m traveling almost every weekend of August so “slightly slower” is relative. To make sure I don’t overexert myself this month and burn out by September, I’m only setting a few August goals. Grace is the key for this month.

2017 August goals | www.passthecookies.com

Let’s check in on those July goals first:
-Celebrate the 4th of July with fun, family, and food
-Find a paint color for the second bedroom – Tried so hard on this one; we tested 5 color samples on the walls and didn’t like any of them. Trying again this month 
-Spend a weekend relaxing at the lake with family and friends
-Pick blackberries
-Get/order wedding gifts for our next three weddings
-Celebrate with friends at a wedding (I’m excited about the venues for this one! The other weddings we have been to this year have all been gorgeous, but I haven’t known anything about the locations/venues since most of them have been in different cities and states.The venues for this one are local, and places I have been, but never for a wedding. I’m excited to experience them in a different setting!)
-Make a plan or a timeline for our list of projects
-Run regularly, even in the heat
-Celebrate a childhood friend and soon-to-be mama
-Continue to use my Write the Word journal regularly throughout the weekDid really well at this in the first half of the month, then still used it but the regularity slowed down. Marking it done because it was better than last month.

August goals:
– Pick a paint color for the second bedroom
– Paint the second bedroom
– Celebrate weddings with friends
– Enjoy some relaxing time with Will between rotations and the start of classes
– Spend quality time with my mom and sister on our inaugural girls trip
– Get into a routine with Write the Word journal
– Read a book at least three days a week
– Pick blackberries
-Make a plan or a timeline for our list of projects

flourless peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwiches

Happy happy Monday! We had some absolutely gorgeous weather this weekend and I haven’t yet brought myself to terms with the fact that the hot, humid weather will be back any minute. One thing that makes the August heat a bit more bearable is cold, refreshing ice cream. And what could be better than ice cream? The easiest flourless peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwiches!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

With no flour or grains of any kind, these cookies are naturally gluten free. But, don’t let that scare you away, gluten lovers! These are now my go-to peanut butter cookies for gluten free and gluten loving friends alike – no one can tell that they are flourless! Even my mom, who has no problem with gluten and does not like anything peanut butter flavored, proclaimed these as her favorite peanut butter cookies. All hail the flourless peanut butter cookies!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

These are the easiest cookies to throw together. With only 5 ingredients and no mixer required, I can throw these together in just a few minutes, which leaves more time for enjoying all of the summer activities. They are perfect for last minute get-togethers or backyard summer cookouts and are total crowd-pleasers! Every time I offer these, someone asks for the recipe. They are too simple not to share with everyone!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

You can make these cookies on their own, or take it up a notch and turn them into ice cream sandwiches. Chocolate ice cream pairs perfectly with the smooth sweet and salty peanut butter cookies, but vanilla would work well too. You can make these a plated dessert by topping one cookie with a scoop of ice cream. If you’re feeling really fancy after putting minimal effort into such a delicious dessert, add some chocolate shavings or chocolate sprinkles. People will oh and ah, but only you will know how little time it took to throw together. That’s the goal of summer dessert, right? Minimal effort, maximum effect. Check, check.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Barely adapted from the Ovenly cookbook
Makes 26 to 28 cookies (using a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop), or 13 to 14 ice cream sandwiches

1 ¾ cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cups peanut butter*
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chopped milk chocolate (optional and not pictured here, but so so good when included)
Sea salt, for garnish

For ice cream sandwiches:
1 pint of ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, then the peanut butter and salt until smooth and completely incorporated. You should not be able to see any ribbons of peanut butter.

You can scoop and bake the cookies immediately after mixing them, though I found that they keep their shape better if you chill them in the freezer for 15 minutes before scooping. Scoop or spoon the dough into balls (I use a 1 ½ tablespoons or a medium (#40) cookie scoop) and place a few inches apart on prepared pan. They won’t spread much so you may need to gently press them down with the palm of your hand if you want flatter cookies. I like them tall for the maximum soft center :)

Lightly sprinkle the dough balls with sea salt just before baking. Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes for smaller cookies and 10-15 minutes for slightly larger cookies. If you make very large cookies you may need to increase the cooking time even more. The cookies should be golden around the edges when they are done. Let them rest on the baking sheet for a minute or two before transferring them to a wire rack to cool. Let the cookies cool completely before eating.
You can make the dough in advance and either refrigerate it for a couple days or freeze it longer. If you want to freeze the dough, scoop it into balls and place them in one layer on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap in the freezer. After about 30 minutes you can put the frozen balls into a gallon zippered plastic bag. You can bake them straight from the freezer.

To make them into ice cream sandwiches:
Scoop ½ scoop of ice cream onto half of the cookies and sandwich the rest of the cookies on top of the ice cream, gently pressing down. You can serve immediately or freeze the sandwiches for a few hours to make sure they are frozen together and don’t slide apart when you are eating them.

*To save you some measuring, the 16.3-ounce jar of peanut butter is estimated to contain 1¾ cups. I tried this with natural peanut butter and it worked just as well. The natural peanut butter makes the dough a bit softer, so in order for them to keep their shape you should not skip the chilling step if you use this variation. I have always used creamy peanut butter, but you can use crunchy to give them some texture.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches | www.passthecookies.com

link love

Happy Sunday, friends! Link love is a little later than usual this week, but we still have some Sunday left to relax and enjoy the end of the weekend. The weather has been unseasonably beautiful here this weekend and we are soaking it up as much as we can before the heat and crazy humidity returns. I’m headed to a baby shower for one of my lifelong friends who I mentioned in my LA posts and I’m excited to see all of the teeny tiny things :)

link love 7.30.2017

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Before the weekend slips away from us, here is some link love from last week.

In case you are in the mood for an ice cream sandwich, this taste test for the best ice cream sandwich might be helpful. My favorite part is the five-year-old who gives the same opinion for every brand of ice cream sandwich: “I like these.”

How many days a week do you go without spending any money? Likely not many. Even though we try to stick to a budget, zero-dollar days are so intriguing to me. Having days where we don’t spend any money would be a challenge, but ultimately would lead to better spending habits and enlighten us to how often we make unnecessary purchases, even if they are within the budget.

On the topic of money, it interestingly didn’t make the list of the 9 motivators of millennials in the workplace. As I read this article I found myself agreeing with many of the statements and motivators. Some of them are so easy for companies to enact and don’t cost anything. As the workplace demographic shifts, I wonder how long it will take for companies to change and include some of these incentives.

The wallpaper in this home is insane. There are so many pretty patterns that are meaningful to the family. All of that wallpaper reminds me of when my mom and I installed wallpaper in a tiny powder room then swore we would never do it again.

Moving to a different kind of art, Misty Copeland, the first black woman to become principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre, reenacted famous ballerina paintings and sculptures by Edgar Degas for an upcoming art exhibit and the sneak peaks are amazing. The goal of the project was to bring these iconic paintings and sculptures into the 21st century, and include the body types, ethnicities, and races that are now included in the ballet world, which were not previously reflected in art because they didn’t exist as commonly in the ballet community. It is a beautiful project and I can’t wait to see the final product.

With that, have a beautiful Sunday and a great rest of your weekend!

favorite summer dishes

Summer nights mean longer light, enticing warm weather, and fun outdoor activities. To maximize the time that we can enjoy these slow evenings, we have had a few favorite summer dishes that have rotated through our menus regularly.

Favorite Summer Meals

Having a few go-to recipes that we like makes it easier to meal plan and grocery shop, and quicker to make dinner, since we are already familiar with the recipe steps. Even when we go out of town for a weekend and don’t have time to meal plan or make a grocery list for the week, having some go-to recipes on hand means that we know which ingredients to pick up and we know they won’t go to waste. This has been one of the best things in a busy season and has really decreased the stress and time spent meal planning throughout the summer. Below are a few of our favorite summer meals and dishes. We’re always looking for more go-to recipes, so if you have any summer favorites, I’d love to hear them! (more…)

link love

Happy happy Friday. This week has been so busy and so long. There are so many things I have wanted to do but didn’t have time.  I simultaneously want to do everything this weekend and just relax and not do anything at the same time because I’m exhausted. Sometimes I can’t relax until I have been productive, so the dilemma continues. I hope you can relax or be productive – whichever you desire! Or better yet (for me) both!

link love 7.21.2017

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Until then, let’s soak up some great link love from the week.

This guest room reveal is amazing. It makes me want to add paneling and paint every room.

People have been talking about it for weeks now, but the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opened to the public today! There are some great sweaters, jeans, boots, and home decor. I grabbed these boots online and am am excited to see if they work! I love these boots too!

We have done a lot of weekend road trips this summer for weddings and family events and aren’t done yet! Despite having a lot to catch up on when we get home, experiencing new places on our road trips and seeing other people’s vacation photos makes me want to go somewhere new every weekend. I love this guide to a road trip in each state.

Speaking of going somewhere new, this is a great post about why we should try new things right where we are.

You know those epic cheeseboards that you envy all over Instagram? You can make that just from a Trader Joe’s haul, and this post will tell you how. Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to get cheese. They have a good selection and great prices, compared to some other stores. And their snack and dried fruit selection can’t be beat, which, after the cheese, is really key for a good cheeseboard. Now I want to make a cheeseboard for dinner.

We prepped all of the ingredients for lunches and dinners this week. Substitute zucchini for carrots and this is how I felt, including the part about the beets. It took at least an hour and a half, and was worth it the rest of the week, but I won’t lie and say I didn’t want to just do something totally different than what we prepped on Thursday night. We did what was planned because we had worked so hard to prep it. On another note, did you know that those beets you chopped that dyed your hands pink for a whole day don’t release any juice after you store them in a tupperware in the fridge? That was news to me. I may stick to the cheese board next time.

Happy weekending, friends! I hope it’s a lovely one!

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