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How to Host a Holiday Cookie Exchange

“Friends are the most important ingredient in this recipe called life.” ~ Unknown

Cookie exchanges serve up two bites of goodness: a chance to share your favorite treats and fill others up with sweet holiday cheer. Nothing beats the afterglow of time spent with friends and a plate of homemade goodies! Coordinating a cookie exchange may seem complicated, but this handy how-to will help you perfectly bake up some fun. Swaps can be facilitated with a strict set of rules (for example, no store-bought) to anything goes. So, grab your oven mitts and cookie cutters!

  • Choose cookie monsters. Decide which circle of friends might savor starting this new sweet tradition ─ neighbors, co-workers, girlfriends, etc.
  • Set the date. Holiday calendars fill up fast, so, weeks before the event, send out invitations ─ either via evite, Facebook event, or traditional print invitations.
  • Timing. Consider a non-traditional time of the day, for example: instead of an evening gathering, schedule an afternoon tea party.
  • Better by the dozen? Decide on the number of guests and, of course, the more guests… the more cookies! Typically around two-thirds of invitees will accept an event invitation. If you invite 20, plan for between 12 and 15 guests and bake appropriate quantities.
  • Check Yes or No. Request that guests respond a week ahead of time in order to give participants time to select a recipe and decide on the number of needed batches.
  • Crunch the numbers. Let’s say you have 12 guests ─ ask each participant to prepare four dozen cookies. This ensures every person gets to take at least four cookies from each batch, and each guest returns home with a total of 48 different types of cookies. If this sounds like too many cookies for each person, either decrease the number to three dozen or have guests donate extras.
  • Recipe for success. Ask each guest to bring copies of his/her recipe to share.
  • Prep guests. Participants should arrive with a tray of cookies for sampling and instructions about how they’ll take their treats home. For example, they can bring their own container or, as the host, you can provide boxes or tins.
  • Serve simple appetizers and beverages. To complement the sweets, serve easy to make, savory appetizers, like cheese and crackers, mixed nuts, and dip with veggies. Beverages might include apple cider, soda, wine, tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.
  • Share stories. Go around in a circle and ask each guest to share a story about the treat that they brought. Listening to friends recount their traditions, baking disasters, and childhood memories will ignite laughs and nostalgia.
  • Give prizes. While this step is optional, it can add extra cheer to the festivities. Questions to vote on might include: Most unusual? Most creative packaging? Most visually appetizing? Consider gifting small holiday trinkets, such as holiday mugs or ornaments.
  • Spread the joy. Offer guests the option of preparing extra cookies that you can box up and deliver to a local nursing home, police or fire station, or shelter.

Ways to Package Cookies for Gifting

  • Mason jars
  • Cleaned and wrapped Pringles containers
  • Homemade paper envelopes
  • Lunch-sized paper bags
  • Decorative take-out boxes
  • Miniature loaf pans
  • Cookie tins
  • Rectangular cake pan
  • Repurposed wine bags
  • Ribbon-tied cellophane bag
  • Holiday paper plate wrapped with cellophane
  • Baskets
  • Mail tubes
  • Cardboard jewelry boxes
  • Cookie jars
  • Scrapbook paper rolled into cones, wrapped in cellophane
  • Decorative plates
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