Host a Holiday Cookie Exchange

Christmas Cookie Swap

There’s no better way to kick-off your holiday festivities than with a Cookie Exchange or Cookie Swap and that is why December 4th through December 10th has been designated Cookie Exchange Week. Holidays are prime time for cookies, with gingerbread, spritz, thumbprints and so many others flying off the plate as soon as they appear and a holiday cookie exchange during Cookie Exchange Week is the perfect way to bring back those childhood memories and pass along your family’s cookie traditions to others.

1. Invite Guests

Go digital to save time, effort and money. I typically use evite or Facebook for my invitations.

• Invite double the amount of guests that you feel you can accommodate. This is the busiest time of the year and not everyone will be able to attend.

Ask invitees to prepare 6-10 dozen of their favorite or ‘most requested’ cookie or bar to swap, and an extra dozen for sampling pre-swap.

Suggest that the cookies be well suited for traveling and freezing; meringues may not make it home, let alone being jostled around in the freezer.

Request the swap be ‘nut free’, if this is a concern for you. I have done this in recent years as so many of my girlfriend’s children have severe allergies.

2. Bake Cookies!

Try some of our Holiday Cooke Swap Recipes

Prepare a tried-and-true, favorite recipe. You probably already have a family favorite in mind as you read this post. You know, the one that garners the most requests for the recipe, the one you couldn’t imagine celebrating Christmas without.  Now you can share it.

• Make them pretty! Don’t be shy about showing off if you are gifted with decorating skills. Maybe you have a bit more time on your hands than some of your guests and the opportunity to exercise a piping bag. Trust me; guests will appreciate you making the extra effort to dress up those gingerbread men.

Store the cookies in an airtight container in the freezer if you have made them in advance. Try and maintain their freshness until the big day.

3. Prepare to Host

This may be the easiest party to host over the holiday season; the guests bring the treats; all you have to do is put on a pot of coffee and open your home! Sounds simple? It is! If you’re the Martha Stewart type, here are a few extras touches you can add to make the event even more special:

Plan a door prize. A cookie cookbook, a pretty apron, or a cookie jar — you decide how simple or elaborate you want it to be. One year I asked each person to bring a cookie cutter. They showed up with all different sorts of shapes –mittens, stars, and angels—which I placed together in a gift bag. At the end of the swap, I drew a name and one lucky lady went home with the whole collection of cookie cutters.

Provide Drinks. My guests have come to expect a pot of apple cider and spices simmering on the stove and it’s my most requested beverage.

• Make labels for the cookies. This is a practical ‘extra’ that identifies everything on the table and can inform guests who contributed which cookie.

Set up a packaging station where guests can assemble and wrap small boxes of goodies to give away as presents. -For creative ideas on how to offer fun package ideas, read Creative Wrappings for Holiday Home Made Gifts and Cookies.

4. 1-2-3 SWAP!


Once all the guests have arrived and the table is laden with hundreds of cookies, invite guests to enjoy a hot beverage while you prepare a tasting tray. If each contributor brought extra cookies for tasting, you should have ample baking to serve up to your guests –and any husband that may have ‘happened’ to stroll through the kitchen.

I love the stories that emerge during this time of sampling and socializing; tales of failed batches of cookies, recipes handed down from grandmothers, and confessions of having felt the need to impress with their cookie contribution!


The formula to actually exchange cookies is simple, with guests taking home as many cookies as they contributed. Start by everyone taking a dozen each, rotating around the table so everyone has a chance to access all the cookies. Continue with another dozen and another until all the cookies are gone. This usually takes about two minutes!

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