Friends sweeten the dessert table at their children's weddings with homemade cookies from their cookie baking parties.
When 13 moms from Grand Rapids, Michigan, ask who wants home-baked cookies, their adult children all eagerly say, “I do!”
“Whenever there’s a family wedding, we get together for a marathon baking session to prepare a cookie table for the reception,” explains Grace Van Timmeren, one of the baker’s dozen. “We’ve done 22 tables so far. And with 36 adult children between us, we have several to go.” Friends for more than 18 years, the women became close as their children went through school together. The women still meet at least monthly for birthday lunches, game nights, Bible studies or whenever nuptials are approaching, to bake some “lovin’ from the oven.”
For each wedding, there’s a Mother in Charge, or MIC—the mom whose child was most recently married. After consulting with the couple, she prepares a menu of cookies, ideas for displaying them and an estimate of how many to make—about three times the final guest count. “Typically, we make nine or 10 different kinds, for a total of 1,000 to 1,200 cookies,” says Grace. “Many are family-favorite recipes—such as buckeyes, raspberry shortbreads and almond sugar cookies. For fun, we also do theme cookies—like cutout hearts and lips.
“The MIC assigns us each a few batches to make and freeze at home, plus dough to bring to our group baking session. We show up bearing cookie sheets and storage containers, and wearing our ‘uniforms’—matching monogrammed aprons made just for these occasions.”
On a Romantic Roll
Over the years, the moms have convened in school and church cafeterias or in their own kitchens. “Some of us roll dough or monitor the ovens while others concentrate on decorating or cleanup.” When the last batches are cooling, the moms sit down for dinner to share the latest news and plenty of laughs. “Our friendship goes far beyond baking,” says Grace.
Their cookies have gone pretty far, too, gracing tables as far away as Anchorage, Denver and San Francisco. “We’ve flown with cookies a number of times and always put them in our carry-on luggage,” says Grace. “Airport screeners have jokingly asked for samples, but no one’s taken them away from us yet.”
Their confections have been arranged on tables in a huge heart, stacked in cookie jars and displayed like jewels on cake stands and platters. Bags or boxes are provided to guests who’d like to take home sweet memories. Each couple receives a framed, printed history of our cookie table tradition along with a few saved cookie samples. Recently, we put together a book of our cookie recipes for each of our families. Our kids have hinted that they’d like to carry on the custom, and we’d love to get them started.”