Learn how to host a cookie swap party so that you can enjoy a fun and tasty event with all of your friends and family! From invitations to cookie ideas and even party supplies, I'm going to walk you through the party planning process every step of the way! I'll even share my favorite cookie recipes for the occasion!
Complete Guide To Hosting A Cookie Exchange
Holiday baking is one of my favorite hobbies during the chilly months. There are so many tasty Christmas desserts to make, but not enough time to make them all! Cookie swap parties allow you to try all of your favorite Christmas cookies without having to bake all of them yourself!
This guide will show you all the ins and outs of hosting this fun, holiday event. It is such a fun get-together that it's bound to become a new holiday tradition!
- Complete Guide To Hosting A Cookie Exchange
- What Is A Cookie Swap?
- 🗓️ One Month Before The Party
- Make Your Guest List
- Decide The Rules
- Send Invitations
- Plan Your Cookies
- 🗓️ 2 Weeks Before The Party
- Follow Up On RSVPs
- Collect Cookie Recipes
- Shop For Party Supplies
- Make A Menu
- Don't Forget About The Kids
- 🗓️ 1 Week Before The Party
- Create Labels
- 🗓️ 3 Days Before The Party
- Go Shopping
- 🗓️ 1-2 Days Before The Party
- Prepare Food
- 🗓️ Day Of The Party
- Finishing Touches
- Get Food Ready
- Place Take-Home Items
- ❓ FAQ
- 🍪 More Cookie Recipes
- 📋 Recipe
If baking gets you in the Christmas spirit, be sure to check out all of my holiday baking recipes! There are cookies, cakes, pies, fudge, candy, and so much more to try!
What Is A Cookie Swap?
A cookie swap (or cookie exchange) is a festive party in which all of the guests bring homemade Christmas cookies! This gives everyone a chance to try out some new kinds of cookies, as well as some favorites, get new recipes, and even take home a box of all of their favorite treats!
🗓️ One Month Before The Party
All-in-all, you should begin preparing for your cookie exchange about 1 month in advance. This will give you plenty of time to prepare all of the details, make the guest list, and (of course) bake cookies!
Make Your Guest List
While you may want to invite everyone you know to this fun event (hey, more cookies, right?), it's better if you tone it back a bit. Don't forget that everyone will need to be baking for a crowd, so you don't want it to be overwhelming.
In general, cookie swaps work out best when you plan for 8-10 guests (plus yourself). Of course, your living space should also be able to accommodate the number of individuals you will be inviting.
Finally, keep in mind who actually enjoys baking! This is a party where all of the guests participate, so you may want to hold off on inviting friends that may be stressed at the thought of whipping up cookies for a group of people (unless you are okay with store-bought cookies).
Decide The Rules
When it comes to a cookie swap, it's helpful if there is some sort of structure and guidance in place that you can pass along to your guests. This is extremely lenient, and you can decide on as many expectations as you like (or none at all!)
Consider these points when deciding how you want to structure your event.
- What qualifies as a cookie? Can your guests bring other finger-food desserts (like fudge, Rice Krispies treats, or candies?)
- Are these strictly homemade cookies only? Or, can your guests bring store-bought cookies? Remember who is on your invitation list and whether or not they will want to participate in baking.
- Is there a specific number of cookies that your guests need to bring? Be sure to let them know!
When it comes to choosing a date and sending invitations, try to be mindful of your guests' busy schedules during the holiday season. I recommend sending invitations out a month in advance.
Make sure to choose a date that you think most of your guests will be available (and feel free to ask around before deciding on a date!) Of course, be reasonable with yourself as well. If you would find it easiest to host a party on a Sunday morning instead of a Thursday evening, then do it!
You can choose to do your invitations however you like! You could go old-school and send out paper invitations in the mail, make an electronic e-vite that gets sent to an email address, or anything in between!
Make sure to include all of these important details on your cookie swap invitations!
- The purpose of the get-together (Christmas cookie swap!)
- Date & Time (If you have a set end time, be sure to include that as well.)
- Location, including the full address.
- What your guests are expected to bring.
- Specify any rules or expectations.
- If any of your guests have allergies (you don't want someone bringing peanut butter cookies if you have a guest with a peanut allergy.)
- Whether or not kids are also invited.
- RSVP information (as well as a deadline to RSVP).
Plan Your Cookies
Considering the whole theme of a cookie swap party is cookies, you really need to know which kind you are going to make. I like to coordinate my cookies with my guests so that there aren't any duplicates. Simply speak with your guests and ask them what kind of cookies they are planning on bringing, just to make sure you don't wind up with a ton of one kind of cookie.
Of course, you don't have to coordinate this at all, and can leave it completely up to chance!
What Are The Best Kinds Of Cookies For A Cookie Exchange?
The best kinds of cookies for a cookie swap are the ones that you love the most! The point of the party is to share your favorite cookies (and the recipes) with your friends. As long as the cookies can be transported, there are no rules here!
Here are some of my favorite cookies to bring to a cookie swap party.
🗓️ 2 Weeks Before The Party
Follow Up On RSVPs
Go ahead and reach out to your guests if they haven't sent in an RSVP. At this point, you should have a good idea as to what cookies everyone is bringing and whether or not there are duplicate ideas.
Collect Cookie Recipes
One of my favorite parts of a cookie swap party is getting to find new cookie recipes! Not only do you and your guests get to taste all of the delicious treats, but you get to take home the recipe so you can make them yourself!
Ask your guests to send you their recipes so that you can print them out for everyone to take home afterward!
What's The Best Way To Share The Recipes?
You can get as creative as you like when it comes to sharing cookie recipes. It can as simple as sending them out in an email after the party. Or, you can print each one out and give them out as a party favor.
You can also make the recipes into a menu and hand that out. If your cookie swap is an annual tradition, you could even assemble the recipes into a fun cookbook!
Shop For Party Supplies
Whether or not you want to decorate for your cookie swap party is completely up to you. However, there are some things you should pick up even if you aren't adding decorations.
Make sure you have some serving trays or plates for your cookies. You can use a tiered cake stand for a sophisticated display or create a long row of platters for a more buffet-style approach.
You'll also need some type of tins or boxes for guests to take home their cookies!
Make A Menu
Depending on the style of party you are going for, you may want to offer other food or snack options alongside the cookies. Plan for some tasty appetizers or snacks as well as refreshments (alcoholic or not).
You can get crafty with this and make a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate station so that your guests can serve themselves. Maybe you want to serve some chilled wine or have a big punch bowl?
Go ahead and plan out all of your snacks and beverages so you'll know what you need to prepare. And remember, always have some non-alcoholic choices (or mocktails) for kids and non-drinkers!
Party Appetizer Ideas
Don't Forget About The Kids
If your party includes inviting children, make sure they will be entertained! You can set up some plain sugar cookies that have been cut into different shapes and make a decoration station.
Additionally, you could grab a few gingerbread house kits and let them have fun building and decorating them!
There is no requirement that you have to come up with party games or activities. However, if you want to, here are a few fun ideas!
You could have a cookie decorating station with some sugar cookies and icing. Additionally, you could have some crafts set up so that people could decorate ornaments for their Christmas trees!
Alternatively, if you want a fun activity that doesn't take time away from mingling, you could give out fun awards for things such as 'best tasting cookie', 'most unique', or 'best-looking cookies'! Have your guests vote on the winners and give out a small prize at the end of the party!
🗓️ 1 Week Before The Party
You'll want to make some labels for all of the cookies that your guests will bring! These will need to include the name of the cookies, important allergen information that your guests may need to know about, as well as who the amazing baker is!
You can find some fun templates online where you can type in the information and print it out. Or, you can handwrite some cute labels or even just use sticky notes.
Of course, you can hand your guests some blank labels and have them fill them out themselves as they arrive.
🗓️ 3 Days Before The Party
Now is the time for your big shopping trip! Make a list beforehand so that you don't forget anything (and have to make multiple trips).
You'll want to pick up all of the ingredients that you will need for your cookies as well as any refreshments, snacks, or appetizers you will be serving. Don't forget to pick up a bag of ice as well for keeping drinks chilled.
🗓️ 1-2 Days Before The Party
The time has come to whip up your favorite batch of cookies for the party! Make sure to allow them to cool off completely before storing them. Place your cookies into an airtight container and keep them at room temperature so that they stay fresh.
If you are making plain sugar cookies for decorating, now is the time to make those, too!
This is also the time that you will need to prepare any food that you may be serving. Take a look at each recipe to see how far in advance you can prepare it as well as how to properly store the dishes.
If you are planning on decorating, go ahead and throw up all of your festive decor and fun decorations! You can also lay out any tablecloths you may want to use as well as the platters where the cookies will be placed.
🗓️ Day Of The Party
Finish up any last-minute decorating that may need to be done (like lighting the fireplace or candles). Make sure all of the serving platters, glasses, and dishes are clean and dust-free.
Bonus tip: Go ahead and completely empty out the dishwasher for a quick cleanup later!
Don't forget to set up the kid's area if you have one!
Get Food Ready
Reheat any dishes that need to be heated and place them in their serving dishes with their proper utensils. Set out your cookies with their label and get refreshments ready as well.
Place Take-Home Items
Prepare your packaging so that guests can take their cookies home and set them out. Place the recipe cards alongside the take-home containers so that everything is ready once guests begin to leave!
How Should You Package The Cookies?
For take-home packaging, you can be as simple or extravagant as you like. You could opt for some plain Ziploc bags, use bakery boxes, or cookie tins. Paper sleeves, ribbons, bows, and treat bags are a great way to add some fun and festive touches!
The answer to this question is highly variable. Some people just bring one or two cookies for each guest, while others would rather bring a whole dozen for each person! Whatever you choose, make sure that your guests are aware so that they know how many cookies to bring.
Ideally, you want your guests to leave with a stash of cookies and not eat them all while at the party. So, it is a good idea to have some snacks on hand.
Odds are, your house is already looking pretty festive for the holiday season. Whether or not you want to add on some extra decorations (like tablecloths) is totally up to you!
🍪 More Cookie Recipes
- Gumdrop Cookies - These colorful and fun cookies are packed with chewy gumdrops!
- Vanilla Crinkle Cookies - Light, buttery, and delicious- these simple cookies are perfect for any occasion!
- Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies - This is the perfect recipe for whipping up chocolate chip cookies when you don't need a ton of them!
- Peanut Butter Cookies - These fan-favorite classic cookies are delicious any time of the year!
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies - Add in a fall twist with these tasty pumpkin cookies!
- Snickerdoodles - Another classic, these chewy cinnamon cookies are hard to beat!
I hope this guide showed you everything you need to know about hosting an awesome cookie swap party! Leave a comment down below and let me know what cookies are your favorite to bring!
How To Host A Cookie Swap Party: Chocolate Peppermint Cookies (+Everything You Need To Know!)
- ¾ cup butter (softened, at room temperature)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 1 large egg (at room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour (spoon and leveled)
- ½ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (sifted)
- 1½ cups dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup white baking chocolate
- 1 cup semisweet baking chocolate
- ¼ cup candy canes (crushed)
- Get ready by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together your butter, white granulated sugar, and brown sugar until nice and smooth.¾ cup butter, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup light brown sugar
- Next, add in the room temperature egg, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt, and optional espresso powder and mix until everything is combined and smooth. Then, slowly add in the flour and cocoa powder until a soft dough forms.1 large egg, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1½ cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon espresso powder
- Gently fold in the dark chocolate chips.1½ cups dark chocolate chips
- Prepare your cookies by rolling the dough into equal-sized balls and then placing them onto your baking sheet. Gently flatten the cookies using the bottom of a cup.
- Bake the cookies in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 7-9 minutes, or until they have puffed up and are no longer shiny.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
- While the cookies are cooling, place your white baking chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Drizzle the melted white chocolate over the cookies.1 cup white baking chocolate
- Repeat this process with the semisweet baking chocolate. Drizzle it over the cookies and then immediately top the cookies with the crushed candy canes.1 cup semisweet baking chocolate, ¼ cup candy canes
- Allow the chocolate on the cookies to set completely before serving.
- Room-temperature ingredients are the secret to really smooth cookie dough! They also bake more evenly and quickly.
- You can crush your candy canes by placing them into a zip-top storage bag and rolling a rolling pin over them or pressing on them with a skillet.
- Adding the espresso powder will make the chocolate flavor of the cookies really pop!
- To store: In a sealed container, your cookies can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- To freeze: These cookies are best frozen before adding the chocolate drizzle or candy canes. Once completely cool, freeze them on a baking sheet for 1-2 hours and then transfer them to a storage bag. They can be frozen for up to 8 months. Simply allow them to thaw at room temperature before adding on the drizzle and candy canes.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!