Most of us are big fans of the humble cookie: soft or crunchy, iced or plain, basic or fancy, there’s a cookie variety to please everyone. Cookies are the ultimate treat, perfectly snackable and easy to share with friends, family and loved ones. And even though there’s never a “wrong” time for a delicious cookie, the holiday season seems to be a perfect time to get baking and enjoy these delicious treats.
This year, why not gather a group of cookie-minded friends for a festive holiday cookie exchange? Hosting a cookie exchange is a great way to entertain during the holidays—it works well as a day or night event, doesn’t involve fancy décor or preparation, and is memorable for both small and large groups. It’s also a fantastic way to connect with friends and family during a busy holiday season.
Here are some guidelines and tips to get you started planning your own sweet cookie swap!
So what is a cookie exchange, exactly?
Put simply, a cookie exchange involves you and your guests baking a variety of cookies, then gathering together to share so that everyone leaves with a bunch of different treats.
Cookie exchanges work well with four or more participants, so that guests end up with a nice assortment of cookies. Ask guests to bring at least 2 dozen cookies, to ensure there are enough for guests to take home as well as enjoy at the party.
You can suggest that guests choose a favourite recipe, perhaps something from their childhood or a treasured cookie passed down through generations of cookie lovers.
It’s easy to stick to a simple “holiday” theme for this party, or you can have fun and get creative! Ugly Christmas sweater contest, anyone?
Come one, come all
Have some fun creating a holiday-themed digital invitation using a site like Canva or a party invitation site like Evite. Make sure the invitation clearly explains any rules or themes you want your guests to follow.
Clarify for guests whether you prefer this to be strictly a cookie exchange, or if you want to allow any type of homemade treat. Similarly, specify whether you want treats to be homemade or if you would welcome store-bought treats as well.
Ask guests to bring a couple Tupperware containers or cookie tins to take their cookies home, but have some extras on hand just in case.
Request that your guests RSVP as soon as possible with the type of cookie they plan to bring—first come, first served! This allows you to avoid duplication before the baking starts.
Give guests plenty of notice—at least four weeks—so everyone can plan around other holiday commitments.
On your invitation, encourage guests to choose recipes that would work for the average baker, with ingredients and equipment that are easy to source. A celebrated family sugar cookie recipe might be delicious, but if it includes fresh organic vanilla pods and a spritz cookie press, others may not be able to recreate the recipe easily or affordably.
Refreshing the palate
With cookies already selected as the star of the show, you don’t need to go overboard with other snacks and drinks, but it’s nice to have a few options on hand.
Coffee and tea pair perfectly with cookies, but consider adding hot cocoa or mulled apple cider as well.
Something savoury adds a nice balance to the sweetness of the cookies. Veggies and dip or cheese and crackers would pair well.
A sweet memento
Continue the festive feel of your party by capturing your guests’ recipes and assembling them into a cookie recipe book!
Have guests bring along a printout of the recipe on a single 8 x 11 sheet of paper with the name of the guest and cookie name at the top of the page. Request that recipe listings indicate clear, concise ingredients and directions. Ask them to include a line or two on their recipe printout, that speaks to why they chose to make this specific cookie.
As guests arrive to your cookie exchange, have index cards or festive labels ready to go along with colourful markers. Ask everyone to list their name along with the name of their cookie and place the card on the table next to their treats.
Before you start the exchange, take a photo of each tray of cookies with the notecard next to it.
After your event, assemble all recipes together along with the corresponding photo. Assemble into a digital “recipe book” that you can share with your guests.