How to Host a Cookie Swap Like a Holiday Party Pro

Top left: Vanilla Sugar Cookie Trees with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe by Becky Sue Wilberding). Bottom: Salted Hazelnut Chocolate Maple Rum Bars (recipe by Becky Sue Wilbdering).

Gathering your nearest and dearest for a cookie swap is one of the sweetest ways to spread the holiday spirit. From prepping ahead to packaging, here’s how to host the jolliest cookie swap of all. For more cookie swap tips and for a timeline on organizing your cookie swap, check out our Holiday Cookies 2019 special issue!

Avoid the holiday rush. Host your swap in early December before your guests get too busy baking for and attending other holiday parties. Make it a casual weeknight get-together or a weekend brunch so your swap doesn’t conflict with other holiday events.

Do the math. When deciding how many cookies to ask each guest to bring, err on the side of having more cookies than needed rather than risking not having enough. This will ensure there’s a large variety of cookies for everyone to sample from as well as to take home. Once you’ve chosen the number of batches each guest should bring, plan on baking just as many batches of your own recipe for the swap.

Find the recipe for these Empire Cookies by Laura Kasavan in our Holiday Cookies 2019 special issue!

Send invitations a month ahead. Invite your guests well in advance so everyone can plan their recipe ahead of time. This will reduce stress and last-minute baking during such a busy season. In your invitations, specify when guests should RSVP by and when to submit their recipe and offer up some inspiration by sharing your favorite cookie bakers and cookie cookbooks for them to reference for sweet ideas.

Help coordinate recipes. Because a cookie swap with five different kinds of chocolate thumbprint cookies won’t be much fun, make sure there aren’t duplicate recipes before the swap. Ask guests with crossovers to pick another recipe featuring a flavor or type of cookie that may be missing from the lineup. 

You don’t want to miss the recipe for these Browned Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies by Elisabeth Farris in the Holiday Cookies 2019 special issue!

Showcase each cookie with recipe cards. Let everyone know what’s available by making recipe cards that list the name of each recipe and the baker who made it. Remember to include printouts of the recipes so guests can recreate the cookie magic at home.

Set up a packaging station to make take-home cookie boxes. Supply your packaging table with containers like simple cardboard boxes, cellophane bags, and holiday-themed paper plates. Provide linings like festive tissue paper and parchment paper so your guests’ cookies stay intact during transportation. Finally, be sure to have details like twine, ribbon, tape, scissors, and stickers available so people can seal their cookie boxes and personalize them with yuletide flair. 

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