How to host a holiday cookie exchange

What’s better than taking a bite out of a freshly made holiday cookie? How about choosing from a dozen different kinds of cookies, all baked with care by the ones you love? Share the holiday cheer this season by inviting your dearest friends, neighbors and family members to a cookie exchange.


Whatever way you choose to invite your guests–mass email, Evite or snail mail–the purpose of your invitation is to clearly state what’s expected of each baker. Ask your partygoers to bring two containers, one empty and the other filled with their favorite holiday season cookie. Set the number of treats between one to three dozen depending on your expected attendance. Tip: There will always be one guest who forgets his or her empties, so consider having a stack of paper plates, aluminum foil or plastic baggies on hand to save the day.


Pick your cookie-sharing surface–your dining room table or kitchen counter works–and station a stack of sticky notes and festive markers or pens nearby. As each baker arrives, ask him or her to add their treats to the collection and affix a note with the cookie name and baker’s name. To help out those with food allergies, encourage guests to note whether their recipe contains nuts, dairy or gluten–a simple “N,” “D” or “G” will suffice.



Now it’s time to belly up to the cookie bar and fill your containers! While everyone is making their selections, share the story behind your treat of choice. Did you learn to make kolaczki from your Polish grandma, Babcia? Or did you inherit your love of Swedish butter cookies from your next-door neighbor as a kid? Every holiday sweet has a tale, and knowing why your friends chose to share their particular recipe is a treat in itself.


You’ll have plenty of sugary treats to munch on. After all, there’s no rule against dipping into your cookie stash right away! But having some salty snacks on hand can provide the perfect counterpoint to all the sweet stuff. Put together a platter of crackers, cheeses and cured meats or set out bowls of olives, salted nuts and Chex mix.


Try the DIY sparkling cocktail bar or hot chocolate bar with toppings from our Black Friday brunch post, or whip up this spiced apple cider recipe to keep the whole crew warm and toasty. Holiday mugs or glasses help set the mood. Cheers to a successful cookie exchange that will hopefully become a treasured tradition for years to come!