A cookie exchange is a convenient and fun way to collect an array of cookies without spending time on different recipes. It's also a great excuse to get together and catch up with friends and family around the holidays. Hosting a flawless cookie swap is easy - just follow the advice below!
Choose a Recipe for Success
Determine a date and time most convenient for invitees - invite six to 10 friends, each of whom would be responsible for making a dozen cookies per guest. If guests are having a difficult time choosing what to make, suggest a few variations such as bar, drop, press and rolled cookies. And remember, no chocolate chip cookies allowed unless they are decorated festively! This is a holiday party - spritz, sugar, linzer bars, snickerdoodles, thumbprint, gingerbread and stained-glass cookies are great for swapping.
Send out invitations about three weeks in advance. Include time, date, place, contact information and party instructions. Instructions should include the number of cookies to bake, a reminder to bring recipe cards, a container to take all the goodies home and a plate or basket to display cookies. A week before the party, send out a reminder to those who haven't RSVP'd.
*Time Saver Tip: Ask guests to divide cookies by the dozen ahead of time into party bags for a quicker, simpler exchange.
Consider using Wilton "Print Your Own" Stationery Program to create invitations. After purchasing a stationery kit at a local retailer, go to www.wilton.com/printyourown to customize the invitations on over 85 occasion templates. Then simply print and mail.
Mix Everything Together
Once all invitees have responded with what cookies they plan to bring, let them know how many dozen cookies to make. Remember, this is a cookie exchange, not a cookie tasting, so hosts will need to provide tasty refreshments! Bake a simple casserole or prepare a few appetizers. Egg nog is a festive holiday beverage choice, but be sure to include old standbys such as coffee, tea, punch, hot chocolate or milk. The host should bake cookies a few days ahead of time and freeze them for convenience while party details such as decorating the house and deciding how to dress the table are finalized. Just remember to defrost cookies in plenty of time! Don't forget other details including plates, flatware, glassware, napkins and background music.
It's Party Time!
The table is set, the refreshments are out and the music is on. As guests arrive with cookies in tow, route them to the display table where cookie creations can be arranged on plates or baskets they brought. Keep spare oversized trays and plates handy for those who may have forgotten their own. Ask guests to display recipe cards next to their treats or bring cards for everyone.
Since some guests may not know each other, try doing an ice-breaker in which guests introduce themselves and share a story about their cookie choice. Invite guests to eat and drink at their leisure; then it's time to let the exchange begin. Encourage everyone to gather around the table with their containers to collect a dozen of each kind of cookie and recipe cards. Consider having people walk around the table in a clockwise direction. Be sure to compliment all cookies and thank guests for their time.
Variations and Suggestions for a Cookie Exchange
- Have guests bring a half-dozen cookies per guest instead of a dozen
- Suggest holiday attire and give a prize for most cookie-licious outfit
- Have guests bring extra cookies for sampling
- Remind guests about portability of cookies - gooey icing should be avoided
- Have extra parchment paper to separate cookies and plastic storage bags in case anyone forgets containers
- Suggest making the cookie exchange a "grown-ups only" night to prevent distractions from others
- For work and school cookie exchanges where cookies will be eaten on site and it's hard to control the number of guests, have everyone bring just one dozen cookies