December always passes so quickly. Literary events aside, the whole month is an absolute whirlwind of holiday parties and holiday prep: the Christmas card writing and mailing; the baking of treats; the ornamenting of trees; and the scheming of perfect, thoughtful gifts. This year, Coffee House Press decided to combine the usual madness into a single hodge-podge wintry gathering. The result? It was practically too adorable for words.
Last Wednesday, December 12th, the public collected at Coffee House Press’s northeast Minneapolis headquarters for a cookie potluck, sing along, and book sale. Drawing a crowd of about forty to fifty people—just enough to make the office full without feeling packed—the guests ranged from CHP authors and board members to local literati and fans. Many people brought along friends or family and everyone showed up with a plate of sugary treats to share. Most guests seemed to have a strong connection to the press and knew the other attendees. There was lots of hugging and fawning over children. People wore stylish holiday outfits with slushy winter boots, drank lots of wine, and noisily—cheerfully—guffawed at nerdy stories and jokes.
Dylan Hicks, whose novel Boarded Windows was published by Coffee House Press this year, and local artist Andy Sturdevant led Christmas carols and most of the crowd, though a bit sheepish at first, sang along. Interns were on stand-by to wrap Christmas gifts and offer book recommendations. An ornament station was set up with the supplies to make paper Christmas bulbs. Publisher Chris Fischbach was constantly greeting and thanking everyone for stopping by.
Interestingly for a literary event, the main attraction of this affair had nothing to do with writing. This party centered on the cookies. All major holiday varietals were represented (shortbread, gingerbread, sugar, peanut butter stars, Russian teacakes, spritzs, and snickerdoodles), and most had multiple interpretations. People offered insightful reviews of each submission. Like any good reading, there was plenty of emphatic sighing.
My contribution was gingersnaps with dark chocolate and ginger toffee, or “Chocolate Molassies” as my baking partner-in-crime/publishing colleague, Bethany Onsgard helped coin. They were not aesthetically pleasing, but I definitely saw at least three people give them a try! Alas, I did not win a prize.
The belle of the ball, selected by CHP authors as the most delicious cookie submission, was an ambrosia macaroon with a hint of orange and dark chocolate, though the crowd favorite seemed to be a Scandinavian confection that looked like a cross between a cookie and a pastry. Everyone who attempted a taste wound up covered in powdered sugar. My personal preference was the gingersnap s’more, which I can only describe as a revelation. I have no idea how the contest judges managed to test all of the entries. I slipped into a sugar coma after my fourth.
In a nutshell: this event was so sweet it gave everyone gut rot. Absolutely charming!
Were you There? Have something to add, or a different take on this event? Chime in on the comments below, or send us an email at LitSeen.Mpls@gmail.com! Be sure to check the schedule to the right and the Twin Cities Literary Calendar to be at the next LitSeen.org attended event. See you around!