A Very Yankee Holiday Cookie Swap

Top bakers share their favorite holiday cookie recipes as we give a classic Christmas cookie exchange a modern twist.

By Amy Traverso

Oct 24 2018

Photo Credit : Mark Fleming | Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne | Prop Styling by Sierra Baskind/Ennis Inc.

It’s been nearly 50 years since a small group of women first gathered in a Wellesley, Massachusetts, living room to exchange cookies potluck-style. As instructed, each guest brought a few dozen confections to sample and share. They mingled, enjoyed an elaborate meal, and left with a kaleidoscopic array of bars and drop cookies, crescents and cutouts. That first gathering, in December 1969, was so successful that neighbors Mary Bevilacqua and Laurel Gabel decided to host another the next year. And then the next, and the next….

A Very Yankee Holiday Cookie Swap
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming | Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne | Prop Styling by Sierra Baskind/Ennis Inc.

Today, three generations of Mary’s family share duties in hosting the famous Wellesley Cookie Exchange, which has spawned several Yankee articles and a cookbook. In turn, countless others have adopted the tradition for themselves.

With that in mind, we recently gathered some of our favorite bakers to share cookie recipes and toast the season. But whereas the Wellesley exchange began with handwritten invitations to neighbors, our circle included some virtual friends whose work we’d long admired in cookbooks, on blogs, and in dazzling Instagram feeds. They included Jerrelle Guy, author of the award-winning Black Girl Baking; food stylist Suzanne Lee; photographer and stylist Liz Harris; and blogger Kate van Geldern Bowler, author of New England Invite.

From left: Liz Harris, Kate van Geldern Bowler, Amy Traverso, Suzanne Lee, and Jerrelle Guy
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming

As expected, their cookies were all gorgeous and delicious, ranging from spiced pecan-walnut snowball cookies to gingersnap s’mores to chocolate-espresso bars. We ate and laughed and toasted the season. Times change, technology alternately unites and divides us, but the urge to bake, gather, and celebrate remains the same.



How to Host a Cookie Swap | Menu Ideas, Tips & Recipes