How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap | Tips & Recipes

From gathering your guests to planning the menu, here are our top tips for making your holiday cookie swap memorable.

By Amy Traverso

Dec 06 2021


How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap

Photo Credit : Mark Fleming
Inspired by the famous Wellesley Cookie Exchange and our November/December 2018 feature, Cookie Swap, we offer our best advice for hosting a modern holiday cookie swap, including a planning guide, cookie recipes, and a menu of refreshments to serve your guests before the swapping begins.
How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap
Psst! You can find recipes for the mouthwatering cookies pictured here at the end of this post…
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming

How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap

Start Small and Plan Well

Begin with a group of five to 10 friends who enjoy baking. Send out invitations three to four weeks before the event, and try to plan the exchange within two weeks of Christmas, so that the cookies will still be fresh during the final lead-up to the holiday. Consider a midafternoon start time to avoid conflicts with other holiday parties (and to simplify your menu planning).

Send Out Easy Invites

Handwritten invitations are lovely, but you should know that online invitation sites like Evite, Paperless Post, and Punchbowl have templates specifically designed for holiday cookie swap parties. (Guests can even note which cookies they plan to bring, which is a great way to avoid repeats.)

Organize the Baking

Ask guests to bring cookies that don’t need refrigeration after baking. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need six to 12 cookies per guest, plus an additional dozen for sampling during the party. Finally, ask everyone to bring their own serving platters, and to email you their recipe in advance of the party.
How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap
These sour cream sugar cookie trees are sweet, fun, and easy to transport.
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming

Plan the Cookie Setup

At a craft store, buy several large decorative to-go boxes or reusable cookie tins per guest. Clear off a large table for the exchange, and create a placecard label for each type of cookie. Create a packing station with boxes or tins, ribbon, scissors, and waxed paper (to place between layers) near the cookie display.

Plan the Cookie Swap Menu

Depending on the time of day, you should have coffee and tea, a cocktail and soft drinks, and light savory bites or a full meal to balance out all the sweets. See our perfect holiday party menu below.

Enjoy the Party

Allow time for sampling and snacking, then invite everyone to assemble their cookie collections.

Share the Recipes

Once you’ve collected all the recipes, print them out to hand out at the party or email them to your guests right after.

What to Serve | The Perfect Holiday Cookie Swap Menu

An ideal holiday cookie swap menu should feel festive but not heavy — there will be plenty of indulging with the cookie course! To plan this menu, we looked for a warming cocktail, a vegetable-driven starter and sides, and a bright chicken main dish that packs a lot of flavor with very little fat.

What to Bake | Recommended Holiday Cookie Swap Recipes

The best holiday cookie swap recipes are, first and foremost, delicious. But they should also have a reasonably long shelf life and be easy to transport. Remember, you’ll need six to 12 cookies per guest, plus an additional dozen for sampling during the party. This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated.