Change Up Your Cookie Swap — With a Cootie Catcher!

Or maybe you call it a fortune teller. Either way, it's the most fun way to make cookies.

We're huge fans of a cookie swap, but we're also huge fans of changing things up after a few years of the same ol' party. This year, we had a slightly wacky idea — but it might just start the latest craze in holiday cookie-baking and sharing.

Ready for it? Instead of a hosting a swap, plan a party where you all bake together... and let a cootie catcher (or a fortune teller, if that's what you call it) decide the cookies you'll make.

Allow us to set the scene: You prep for the party by making a few cookie doughs and pop them in the fridge until guests arrive. Write the doughs' names on the outside of the cootie catcher. Then, raid your baking cabinet (or hit the grocery store) and gather anything that would make a good cookie fixin' — chocolate chips, sprinkles, peanut butter, nuts, marshmallows, toffee bits and more. The list goes on — don't hold back! Write the names of those items on all of the other interior locations of the cootie catcher. (If you need a refresher on what we're talking about, here ya go.)

Then comes the fun part — hold the cootie catcher in your hands and ask your party guests to play with you.

(You remember how to do this, right? Your pal picks a first option from the outside of the catcher. You spell it out and move your hands back-and-forth, opening and closing the catcher with each letter. Your friend picks another option from the inside, and you spell again. Then she picks one more option from the inside, and you open the flap underneath to reveal the final result.)

Keep tabs on what she chooses as you play, and you should end up with one cookie dough base + three other ingredients.

And now it's your job to turn those into an incredible, super-cool mash-up cookie.

We know this is bit of a crazy concept. Create a cookie without a recipe? Madness! But stay with us — it's all part of the fun, and we bet your cookie instincts are stronger than you think. And what's the worst that could happen? They come out a little lopsided, a little melty or a little burnt? Even if they're a total disaster, you'll have given your creative muscles a good stretch and had some fun with your friends.

But the best cookies are the successful ones, of course. So here are a few pointers for nailing it when you're experimenting with combining ingredients that you let the universe choose:

1⋅ Start with a few tried-and-true cooke doughs as the base for your creations. A solid foundation is a great first step toward tasty cookies.

2⋅ If an ingredient liquifies when it's hot (think: marshmallows or caramels) then melt it down to use as a drizzle instead of a stuffed-center for your cookies. A note on marshamallows in particular: For best results, melt them down with butter and confectioners' sugar to and make a glaze. Or use them as decoration, stuck on with frosting.

3⋅ Use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mix-ins (like chocolate chips, nuts and dried fruit) for your cookies to avoid making them dry.

4⋅ Anything you use as a filling for sandwich cookies should be thick and spreadable (peanut butter, Nutella, cream cheese frosting). Anything too thick will just run out all over the table.

5⋅ Remember that bread pudding and trifles are a great way to upcycle any cookie experiments gone wrong!

Ready to start folding that cootie catcher? As extra inspiration, here are the four cookies we came up with when we left our baking fate in its hands:

This cookie starts with regular ol' sugar cookie dough. To jazz it up, we kneaded cocoa powder into half the dough, rolled the (now two) doughs together, and finished each cookie with a white chocolate and peppermint dip.

A piece of chocolate candy bar fits perfectly in the center of a ball of peanut butter cookie dough, which we also studded with toffee bits. A dusting of confectioners' sugar gilds the lily — in a good way.

For this cookie, our cootie catcher ingredients became inventive decorations. We cut a gingerbread cookie dough into tree shapes and sandwiched pairs together with cream cheese frosting. Then M&M's became lights and pretzel sticks turned into the cutest tree stumps.

A classic dough (chocolate chip!) gets an upgrade with pecan mix-ins and a topping of marshmallow creme and festive sprinkles.

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