Get a sleigh-load of cookies with a fraction of the work!

Do you love celebrating the holidays with a huge assortment of homemade cookies, but don't want to do all the baking yourself? Then a cookie exchange is the perfect party for you!

Array of Christmas Cookies
Array of Christmas Cookies | Photo by Meredith

How to Host a Holiday Cookie Exchange

Here are our best tips and ideas to help you pull it all together so everyone goes home happy. We'll show you how to calculate how many cookies everyone should bring, plus offer an easy breakdown of what to do ahead of time so you're not slammed on party day.

Cookie Party Planning

How many cookies to bake. The rule of thumb is for each guest to bring 1 dozen cookies x the number of guests. For example, if you're expecting 8 guests, each person would make 8 dozen cookies. But, it's okay to suggest that everyone simply brings at least 4 dozen cookies. That way everyone will still get a few of each cookie to taste or take home.

What kind of cookies to bring. It's a good idea to find out what kind of cookies guests are making so you get a variety. You can share a Google sheet or Dropbox folder so guests can sign up with the kind of cookie they're bringing. If someone needs ideas, point them to these different types of Christmas cookies.

Transporting cookies. Guests should bring their own containers to take cookies home, but you can also have some bags on hand just in case. Heavy duty plastic freezer bags will work for sturdy drop cookies and most bar cookies, but decorated cookies and more delicate shapes should be packaged in tins or resealable plastic containers. Provide waxed paper or parchment for separating layers of cookies.

Party Planning Checklist

Holidays tend to book up quickly, so try to get your invitations out at least a month before the party date.

Hot Chocolate and Cookies
Hot Chocolate and Cookies | Photo by Meredith

One Week Before the Party

  • Finalize the guest list and let everyone know how many people to bake for.
  • Decide on party treats and drinks. To keep things easy, ask friends to bring some of the snacks, too.

Tip: Savory bites and dips balance out the sweetness of the cookies you're all sure to eat.

Three Days Before the Party

One Day Before the Party

  • Finish make-ahead appetizers.
  • Set up the cookie table; it should be able to hold a large variety of cookies and be accessible by more than one person at a time. Provide tongs for picking up cookies. Set out cards and pens so people can label their cookies and indicate if they contain nuts or if they're gluten-free.
  • If you have cake stands or other tiered serving trays, use them--dishes at different heights add visual drama.

The Day of the Party

The Extras

Here are ways to make the party more meaningful and memorable.

Creative Cookie Packaging
Creative Cookie Packaging | Photo by Meredith

Extend Your Circle of Sharing Have guests to bring an unopened package of store-bought cookies or canned food. You can then collect the packaged food and bring them to a homeless shelter or food pantry.

Create Cookie Recipe Booklets

Ask your guests to mail (or e-mail) their cookie recipes to you, or collect the recipes on the day of the party. Assemble a booklet of recipes for everyone to take home with them.

Bag 'Em and Tag 'Em

Provide boxes, bags, ribbons, and tags so guests can take their cookies home in style.

While We're On The Subject Of Cookies