How to Host a Holiday Cookie Exchange

Through the month of December I plan on providing a variety of helpful hints and ideas for not only easing the stress of your holiday baking, but giving you some helpful suggestions on how to make this a time to enjoy.

Included in the Holiday Baking Tips section of My Baking Addiction, I mentioned hosting a cookie exchange as an idea for some holiday fun. A cookie exchange party basically entails several of your closest baking buddies gathering together and exchanging some homemade holiday treats.

This is an excellent way to gather some of your favorite people for cocktails and great food and save some time on your baking schedule. Below I have provided some helpful tips to make a sweet and successful cookie exchange party that everyone will enjoy.

The Invites

Much like any party that you host, you need to start you planning process, starting with your list of guests. A good rule of thumb is to invite no more than 8 to 10 people because every guest is asked to bring a dozen holiday treats per person, plus an additional dozen for sampling. Because this is becoming such a popular holiday tradition, invitations can be found on some favorite sites such as Etsy. I am just smitten with this invite from PartyPrinters on Etsy. To save some time and money, you can also email invites for your exchange. Make sure you request an RSVP so you know what everyone is going to make. We don’t want any duplicates!


The Recipe

Once the invitations have gone out, it’s time to start thinking about what recipe you are going to share. It’s always a good idea to make something that is not too delicate and that will store well when packaged up.

The Display

As the party approaches, you should start creating display cards to set up in front of each of the baked goods that will be sampled and who provided them. It’s also important to clearly label items that contain common food allergy ingredients such as nuts – be sure to label the specific varieties such as walnuts, peanuts, etc. Make sure each of your guests bring out a printed recipe for their baked good so they can be passed amongst your guests.

The Packaging

Having a packaging station is also something that should be considered. As the host, you can always provide some decorating materials so guests can package gift boxes with all the holiday trimmings. Some things to include may be small gift boxes, tags, ribbon, string, and small packaging trinkets. Encourage each of your guests to donate some items for your packaging station to save on some of the cost and provide a little more variety. It’s also a great idea to hit up the holiday aisles of Target the days following Christmas. You’ll find huge discounts on adorable items that you can pack up until next year.


The Snacks

Serving some light hors d’oeuvres and festive beverages is always suggested. This may include egg nog, hot apple cider, and/ or coffee and tea. As much as we love our sweets, guests tend to crave “real” food and of course need a good palette cleansing between treats.

The Activities

Having door prizes for your guests can always be a nice addition to your cookie exchange as well. Making some jars with a favorite cookie or brownie mix is always an option or pairing your party with a White Elephant gift exchange can put a little spice in your gathering.

As we all know this can be a very busy and stressful time of year. Including some fun activities where friends and family can get together creates life-long memories and can possibly start some awesome and time-saving traditions to continue through future holidays.

Photos in collaboration with Emily Caruso of Jelly Toast.

21 Responses to “How to Host a Holiday Cookie Exchange”

  1. Urban Wife — December 8, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I can’t believe I’ve never participated in a cookie exchange! They sound like a lot of work but of course, loads of fun. There’s always next year.


  2. Candice @ Sailing on Paper — December 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I’m not hosting, but I’m attending a holiday cookie exchange tonight! I’ve already made my cookies but I didn’t even think of making little notecards for them…I have a new project for today, now! :)


  3. Ann P. — December 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    This sounds like so much fun! I’ve never been to a cookie exchange before!


  4. Arlene @ Flour On My Face — December 8, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Great tips! I love hosting a cookies exchange each Christmas. This year I will be a guest at one.


  5. Jen at The Three Little Piglets — December 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I also say, limit the number of cookies – nobody wants to bake 20 dozen cookies to attend or bring home 20 dozen! Find out the total number of people coming and then bake 3-4 cookies per person is my rule of thumb. That way you still get a nice assortment, but not one that leaves you needing to add a mess of workout equipment to your New Year’s Resolution list!


  6. Ann — December 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I’m going to a cookie exchange next week. A friend has been hosting one for years and she’s got it all down pat! Thanks for the tips…I LOVE cookie exchanges!


  7. Paula B. — December 9, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Having a breakfast cookie right now, a leftover from my first “annual” cookie exchange held last night. We had hot cider, wine, and a few appetizers at seven. Then we spent a few hours catching up with each other, boxed our cookies and went on our merry way. Many of us are empty nesters and/or watching the calories so we went with bringing two dozen, a more manageable amount for our situation. Even the novice bakers were talking about next year.


  8. What wonderful ideas! I wish I could host a party, but I don’t know any people and the ones I do know, don’t bake. They buy frozen or pre-made. Out of all my friends, none of them cook at all, I don’t know how they survive??


  9. jo-lyn's cup cakes n' candies — December 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    great tips, thank you!


  10. Connie the Cookie Monster — December 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    i love that photo up there! i wish i could photograph like u!


  11. Ruth @ the tasty tRuth — December 10, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Going to a college cookie exchange tomorrow with my ma’s frosted almond shortbread cookies. There’s no chance anyone else’s cookies will stand up to mine, is there? :)


  12. Erika - The Teenage Taste — December 11, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I always host cookie exchanges! It’s such a fun and easy way to get a variety of delicious cookies!


  13. Jane M — December 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I really REALLY wanted to try hosting a cookie exchange, but my friends wanted NO PART of the event – well not all of the friends, but many. Now I’m thinking I should host 1 of these parties in like February when the winter is getting too long and no one has to rush around! It could be a good chance to get together and hang. We’ll see. I was thinking for the women who don’t like to bake or can’t bake to bring either blondies or brownies as those can be cut into many pieces like a batch of cookies and I could provide them with my foolproof recipes.


  14. Erin — December 12, 2011 at 9:19 am

    My mom always used to go to cookie swaps when I was little. I always loved the variety of cookies she would bring home. This is definitely a tradition I want to carry on! I’ll have to remember these ideas for when I host one! :)


  15. shelly (cookies and cups) — December 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I so wish I could get my act together and do a cookie exchange! Totally bookmarking for next year, when my life will be completely more organized ;)


  16. Lauren at Keep It Sweet — December 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I participated in a few cookie swaps this year but have never hosted my own. Such great tips and now I am thinking about what I can do next year:-)


  17. Amber — December 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Fantastic tips, Jamie!


  18. Casey@Good. Food. Stories. — December 12, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    FUN to combine a cookie exchange and a white elephant party! I love doing both…


  19. Tracy — December 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Great tips Jamie! Hosting a cookie exchange is one of my favorite parts about this time of year!


  20. blair — November 21, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    I am hosting my first cookie exchange this year – can you share where you found the adorable cardboard boxes?  I haven’t found anything similar 


    • Jamie — November 23, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      I picked them up at Michaels last year. I’m betting they’ll have something similar this year.

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