How to Host a Fun and Festive Cookie Exchange Party
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!
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.
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
- Bake your cookies and store them in airtight containers or freeze them.
- Start making appetizers that freeze or store well.
- Write out a rough schedule for the party. You want everyone to socialize, but still have time to pack up cookies during the exchange. Work on your party music playlist.
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
- Arrange food and drinks.
- Fix up any last-minute decorations.
- Heat the hot chocolate, brew the coffee, hot cider, or punch, put on some festive attire and get ready to party!
Here are ways to make the party more meaningful and memorable.
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
- Need to brush up on your cookie-baking skills? We've got you covered.
- Want to decorate your cookies? We've got recipes for frosting and icing, decorating tips, and decoration inspiration.
- Want to decorate cookies AND exchange them? We bow to your awesomeness and offer you these tips for throwing a cookie decorating party