Simplify your holiday baking by hosting a holiday Cookie Exchange! Invite a group of friends and have each bring one kind of their favorite holiday cookie to share. At the party, everyone trades and ends up with a whole lot of different delicious holiday cookies. Along with new recipes!
My Levi and I moved into our very first little apartment, over 20 years ago. He was only 18 months old at the time and I was barely 18. But, I remember wanting to share with all of our new neighbors some holiday baked goods. (Yes, even at that young age!) I had baked a whole lot of everything holiday related for almost a full week, that first year! Just so I could share a variety of deliciousness on one plate. It was a lot of work, to say the least! But, I would continue to do it through all the years.
Now fast forward to many years later: I was becoming a bit exhausted of
having choosing to bake all week for my astonishing neighbors and friends. In 2006, I decided to include all of them, instead! We all baked our favorite kind of holiday cookie and traded, then shared the recipes. And, have been doing this ever since!
I want to share with you everything of what I’ve learned through the years of hosting a Cookie Exchange (also known as a Cookie Swap) party. I personally call it my Cookie Party. Call it whatever your heart desires. And, make it whatever kind of cookie party you want. You CAN host a fun and fabulous cookie party of your own! Here are some ideas that I have learned from experience through the years.
What is a Holiday Cookie Exchange?
- It is a chance to get all of your friends and neighbors together to celebrate the holidays…while sharing cookies and new recipes!
- Each guest bakes one of their favorite cookie recipes. You decide how many you want each person to bring.
- During this busy season, you have a large variety of homemade baked cookies to give out as gifts.
Make a Date and Invite Guests!
- Go digital to save money and time. Evite or Facebook is great!
- How many do you want to invite? You could go big or small. (I started with the neighborhood…then it went to half the town! Including my friends from other counties came all the way!) You may always start with a few of your friends and/or just family. Even the non-bakers love to join. It is fun for everyone!
- Request your guests to make ‘nut-free’ cookies. Allergies may be a concern with the other families.
- How many cookies do you want each guest to bring? That is up for you to decide. For 6 or more guests, ask them to bring SIX DOZEN cookies of the same cookie recipe. Just remember, (and remind them) when they bring that many of the same cookies, they leave with 6 dozen different cookies. I’ve had more than 25 guests one year and had each person bring 8 dozen cookies so there was more than 2 or more of the same cookie they got to bring home. (More to sample, right?)
The Art of the Cookie is a great cookie cookbook for inspiration.
Guidelines or Rules for Guests to Follow
All of your guests want some kind of guidance! Some are pros and some are baking for the first time. Usually, you get someone that breaks the rules, but it’s okay. As long as you let all of your guests know what you expect, it will all go smoothly. ALL of you will have an amazing assortment of home baked cookies!
Time to Bake Cookies
- Bake a pretty cookie. Even just a drop cookie can be pretty with drizzles of chocolate or dusted with powdered sugar. Colorful holiday sprinkles are fun, too.
- It is best to bake your cookies a few days before the swap. Lay each cookie out on a flat surface to cool completely (and to dry the moisture out just a little) before putting in an air tight container. Try to maintain the freshness for the big day! You may even freeze the dough already in individual scoops and thaw right before baking.
- Keep in mind a cookie that is easy for freezing and for your guests transporting home. A meringue kind of cookie or bar, does not work very well in situations like this. A cookie that can be stacked on top of another is to keep in mind.
- Cookie size? This is totally optional. But, something I’ve learned through the years of hosting, some guests may want to squeeze in the 6 whole dozen by using the recipe once. Depending upon the cookies they choose, the recipe may be doubled or tripled to make the amount needed for the trade. I was beginning to feel they were ‘sample cookies’, instead of regular cookie size. I personally like a decent sized cookie. I decided to have everyone participate in making the same size cookies– 3 inches. It turned out amazing and I was beyond thrilled!
Here are a great bunch of cookie ideas and fabulous recipes!
Follow Simply Gloria Cookie Haven on Pinterest
Prepare to Host
- Decorations. Simply have your party area decorated with your holiday decor. It really fills the atmosphere with holiday spirit. Even by adding a string of holiday lights across the tops of the room, makes it fun.
- When your guests arrive with their many cookies, have them set up ALL of the cookies on a designated area on the table(s). This makes it easier for every one to go around the table when it is time to collect cookies from each section.
- Make labels to set in front of the cookies. This is purely an extra. But it helps your guests know what all the cookies are! It is also helpful when it is time for your guests to start the voting process.
- Provide a festive drink, tea, or coffee. Hot cocoa has always been fun, too!
- Also, provide food/appetizers for your guests while they are eye balling all of those cookies before the trade! You may choose whether you want your guests to taste the cookies or not at all. This is why I have other sweet treats to keep them away from the displayed cookies. Depending upon your budget, you may serve some light appetizers, other sweets, or even a meal. (Baked potatoes with all the fixings has always been a hit.) Besides, food and drinks keep your guests entertained while the others are setting up their cookie displays.
Casting the Votes
- Give your guests voting ballets for the categories to vote. Have someone else take and count the votes while you are still hosting. Get ready to announce the big winners and hand out prizes!
- Category for prizes and/or winner ribbons. You may choose few or all of the following as a guidance to your prize givings. All of your guests will vote on all the cookies, except their own.
Another favorite cookie cookbook of mine, Cookies, Cookies, and More Cookies!
- Most Amazing Display
- Prettiest Cookie
- Most Unique Cookie
- Most Outrageous Holiday Outfit
- Door Prize (Ask each guest to bring ONE cookie cutter. Collect all of the cookie cutters and give them away as a prize!)
- Cookie Cookbook
- Cookie jar
- Cookie baking sheet
- Cookie cooling racks
- Mixing bowl
- Mixing spoon and/or spatula
- Measuring cups and/or spoons
- Cookie cutter(s)
- Cookie sprinkles
- Cookie scoops
- Pretty apron
- Rolling pin
- Parchment paper
- Oven mitts
Charity/Donations. While you are already having your group of guests coming, ask them to bring gently used (or new) winter clothing and donate them to a local shelter. OR food for your local food bank. Optional Drawing for a prize: for every piece of winter clothing or food, have them write their name on a paper for a drawing to win a prize. Have a designated area for your guests to put them in.
Time to Exchange ~ Swap ~ Trade Cookies!
- Take a moment to ask each of guests to share a story of the cookie recipe they brought, or their adventures of baking them. Also, your guests may love to share some of their family holiday traditions. This gives the others new ideas for their families!
- Time to trade and exchange the cookies! I hand each of my guests a large aluminum disposable (Turkey roasting) pan– found at any kind of dollar store. I line each of them with holiday decorated tissue paper. Have the plastic wrap at the end for them to cover all of their cookies. In the past, when I have asked them to bring their own container, all of the cookies usually do not fit. Having a lined disposable pan ready for each guest, allows them to gently pack their many different size, shapes, and flavors of cookies home.
- Have your guests line around the cookie table with their large *pan* ready to fill. Every one should be able to grab 3 (or 6) cookies from each recipe. If there are extra cookies, circle the table once more. Each guests will end up with the same amount as they came with. (My favorite is watching every one’s faces filled with so much joy as they’ve gathered so many different cookies!)
- Have a package of plastic wrap or foil at the end of the line for them to cover their cookies for their drive home.
This long table of cookies is only HALF of the cookies that were at last year’s cookie party. I wanted to show you how you can encourage some of your guests to stack their cookies in a tier form. Saves a lot of room on the table(s)!
Saying Good-bye to your Guests
- As your guest leave with all of those cookies, this is when I like to give them a party favor. What usually goes with cookies? Milk! (At least for some of us.) I have the cold beverages sitting outside or near the front door in a (hidden) cooler. So, as they are heading out the door, they get a nice surprise to take home with their cookies! Idea: I have given out eggnog with a cookie cutter tied to it with a cute holiday ribbon. (Or minus the cookie cutter and just tie a holiday ribbon on the eggnog itself.)
- Don’t forget the recipes every one has handed you in the beginning! You may assign someone to staple them all together earlier in the party. Put them next to the door and hand them out as they leave.
I hope you find all of this information very helpful on your journey of planning a holiday Cookie Exchange party! If you are just pondering of such a gathering… take some bits and pieces from my experiences of hosting this kind of party and make them your own.
Sometimes, I have to admit it gets a little overwhelming. But, planning is key. Take steps and make lists. Everything will go smooth!
Seeing all of my friends’ smiles– and my boys’ (with all of these cookies), makes it all worth it!
How To Host A Cookie Exchange is linked up and shared with This Gal Cooks