How to Host a Cookie Exchange

How to Host a Cookie Exchange

Publish Date October 9, 2023 7 Minute Read

The holiday season is all about spreading joy, making memories and indulging in sweet treats. So what better way to celebrate than by hosting a classic cookie exchange? This time-honored tradition brings friends and family together to try homemade treats, share favorite recipes and create cherished memories.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

These family favorite cookies are fun for everyone to make.

Easy Red Velvet Cookies

These fudgy cookies are perfectly easy to make.

Espresso Shortbread Cookies

These buttery cookies are rich with the help of espresso powder.

Chocolate-Cream Cheese Crinkles

These simple-to-make treats are loaded with chocolate.

How Does a Cookie Exchange Work?

It’s as simple as it is sweet. Each guest chooses a single recipe and bakes a big batch of cookies, allowing every guest to leave with a full assortment to enjoy. And the best part (other than all the tasty cookies) is that everyone only has to bake up 1 recipe. Ready to host a cookie swap of your own? We’ll walk you through the process of throwing a memorable and delicious cookie exchange.

Set the Scene and Pick a Theme

While a cookie exchange can certainly be its own event, you can also plan for a cookie exchange to be just an exciting element of a larger holiday party. Either way, you’ll want to envision your party, make your guest list and decorate accordingly. Check out our holiday party decorating guide for an in-depth introduction to planning, decorating and hosting an amazing holiday party.

Set Cookie Exchange Rules

When planning your cookie swap, you may decide to lay a few ground rules to ensure the success of your event. No two parties are the same, so before following a cookie-cutter rulebook, think about your guest list and decide which guidelines, if any, will be most helpful. Here are some questions to consider when setting your party rules:

  • Are Your Guests Expert Bakers?
  • Do you want everyone to bring homemade cookies, or are you OK with cookies purchased in-store? If your guests are beginner bakers, you may decide to let pre-packaged varieties or slice-and-bake cookies slide.
  • How Big is a Batch?
  • This will depend largely on the size of your guest list, since ideally, you’ll want everyone to leave with a full platter of cookies. Decide if each guest should bring a half-dozen, a full dozen or even several dozen cookies.
  • Any Dietary Guidelines?
  • If any of your guests have special dietary needs, preferences or allergies, you may want to include those in your guidelines. Do a little bit of digging, and decide whether guests should bring vegan, gluten-free or nut-free varieties.
  • Is this a Cookie-only Event?
  • Will your cookie exchange be cookies only? Consider whether other desserts will be included, especially family recipes and other seasonal specialties. Welcoming non-cookie contributions like fudge, cupcakes, candies or other festive confections is a great way to make sure everyone is confident in their dish, and that there’s plenty of variety for everyone to choose from.
  • What About Recipe Sharing?
  • Recipe sharing is a sweet way to make your event more personal, but some guests may prefer to keep their recipes in the family. Decide whether you’ll ask your guests to bring copies of their cookie recipe, or if you’re OK with secret ingredients. If you’re catering to a competitive or otherwise recipe-reluctant crowd, consider asking your guests to pick a story or memory to share along with their cookies instead.

Send Invitations

After you’ve made your guest list and decided on specific party guidelines, you’ll want to send your invitations. Include important details like the date, time, location, rules and any specific themes for the cookie exchange. You’ll want to give your guests plenty of notice so they can plan to attend, pick a recipe and let you know what they’ll be bringing.

Decorate Your Space

Choose a designated spot where guests can set their cookie platters and start decorating. Consider providing plates, platters, colorful chargers or cake stands for your guests to display their treats. Personalize your dessert display with food flags or chalkboard signs to accompany each dish, and round out your table with greenery, flowers, ornaments, twinkle lights or other seasonal decor.

Plan Your Packaging

You’ll want to plan a way to display everyone’s cookies, as well as a way to package them for easy transportation at the end of the party. Set up a space for guests to wrap their to-go cookies, including supplies like labels, ribbons, twine, tissue paper, and treat boxes or bags. If your guests are sharing recipes, stories, memories or pictures with their cookies, consider printing copies for your guests to take home with their haul.


Cookie Exchange Ideas and Recipes

Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your own cookie contribution or you want to include some ideas along with your invitations, we have you covered with delicious Christmas cookie ideas and recipes:

German Almond Spritz Cookies

These delicious spritz cookies come together quickly, and they can be decorated with sugars, melted chocolate or crushed nuts for extra pizzaz.

Oatmeal Scotchies

Bursting with butterscotch in every bite, these simple oatmeal scotchies make a great addition to any cookie swap.

Chocolate Coconut Thumbprint Cookies

Sleigh all day with these indulgent coconut cookies. Full of rich chocolate and tropical coconut, they’re as easy to eat as they are to make.

Hot Chocolate Cookies in a Jar

If you want to include a special favor for your fellow cookie enthusiasts, consider preparing these jarred hot chocolate cookies they can bake at home.

More Holiday Cookie Recipes

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More Holiday Party Ideas

Visit our blog for even more fresh holiday inspiration, including Christmas cookie recipes, meal planning and more. Ready to host your cookie swap? Check out our holiday baking shop for all your cookie exchange essentials, and visit our holiday shop for everything you need to throw an unforgettable holiday party.