At the holidays, life can get very hectic. Especially when it comes to finding time to bake holiday treats. If you like the idea of having lots of different cookies to enjoy, serve and share with family and friends but don’t have the time to make all these delicious cookies yourself, consider hosting a Cookie Exchange Party. A cookie exchange, also called a cookie swap, is a great way to get together with friends and celebrate the holidays. It’s a fun event with lots of festive spirit. Even better, everyone gets to go home with a variety of cookies for minimal baking effort.
The idea of a cookie exchange is to host a party and invite a number of guests and ask them to bake up a big batch of their favorite homemade cookie to swap with all the other attendees. At the party, guests exchange cookies and each gets to go home with a selection of yummy treats.
You can host a cookie exchange for family, friends, neighbors or members of an organization, service group, social club, or even co-workers. You not only get to share cookies at the event, but also relax, visit and spend some time together during the busy holiday season.
While it is usually best to plan a cookie exchange party well in advance, I have known some short-notice parties to be very successful. With all the holiday hustle and bustle it is easy to get behind with baking plans. A last-minute get-together where everyone only needs to spend a little time to bake one kind of special cookie but gets to home with several different types of cookies can turn out to be a blessing for busy folks feeling overwhelmed in the Christmas rush.
Careful planning will ensure that your cookie exchange party is a success. Here is step-by-step guide to planning your event.
- The first step is to select a date for the cookie exchange and decide how many people you want to invite. The number of guests depends upon how many people you can comfortably host in your home and how many different cookies you want. For a cookie exchange, you can invite anywhere from a small handful of people to a big group of people. Or, if you want lots of guests and lots of cookie varieties, then 10 to 15 guests is a good number.
- Decide what type of cookies you want everyone to bring: fancy decorated cutout cookies, bars and squares, old-fashioned favorites, international cookies, or whatever you want.
- Send out the invitations early, at least a few weeks to a month in advance, and include a specific date for RSVPs. Follow up with any invitees who do not respond so you won’t have any unexpected guests show up and not enough cookies to go around for everyone.
- If you have picked a particular theme for the cookies, be sure to indicate this on the invitation so guests will know what is expected of them when they RSVP. To ensure that the cookies exchanged are special rather than basic cookies, you can also ask guests to bring something other than chocolate chip, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies or brownies or common bars.
- Depending on how many people you are inviting, ask each guest to bring one half dozen cookies or a dozen cookies for each guest who will be attending, plus an extra dozen cookies on a plate to share and sample during the party.
- Indicate that all cookies are to be homemade, not store-bought. It really isn’t fair to guests who take the time to bake their cookies and make them special to expect them to exchange their homemade goodies for generic store-bought cookies.
- The cookies to be exchanged should be wrapped, in batches of a half dozen, in cellophane or packaged in plastic bags for easy handling and to protect them from damage and mingling of the flavors. Guests can transport and display them at the party in baskets, decorative boxes, cookie tins, or on a pretty platter.
- Alternatively, ask everyone to bring their cookies, unwrapped, on a large platter or in a big cookie tin, along with an empty tin or other container to take cookies home in. This way, people who are single or have small households may select fewer cookies of each variety while someone with a larger family can take home more cookies.
- When guests RSVP, ask them which cookie they will be bringing and keep a list so that the same cookies are not duplicated. You want a variety of special cookies, not different versions of just a few. When all the responses are in, let those attending know how many guests will be attending and how many cookies they will need to bring. For example, if there will be 10 guests total and they will be bring one half dozen cookies for each guest, ask each attendee to bring 6 dozen cookies (5 dozen packaged for the cookie exchange and 1 dozen to share and sample during the party).
In my next post, we will talk about how to actually host the party, make the event go smoothly and keep your guests entertained.