Let’s face it. Homemade cookies are one of the greatest things about the holidays. There’s nothing better than sitting on the couch while it’s snowing outside with a hot cup of cocoa and a few yummy cookies. But baking is exhausting, and who really has time to bake 8 or 10 different kinds of cookies to share with family, friends, and (mostly) yourself.
That’s why a cookie exchange is a genius idea!
I’ve been hosting a holiday cookie exchange every December since 2009 and it is so much fun. I’ve attached some of the pictures I took at last year’s exchange.
Here are a few little tips from start to finish if you would like to host your own cookie exchange this year!
1. Decide how you would like to run your exchange (i.e. “the rules”)
The “rules” of my cookie exchange are as follows: Each guest will have to make 1 dozen cookies per-person who is at the exchange, plus one to taste at the party. So, for example, if 10 people RSVP for the party, each guest will have to make 11 dozen cookies- one dozen per person and one dozen to taste. Although, the guest does not have to make a dozen for themselves if they do not want to. Then, each guest will bring their cookies to the party already packaged and ready to go. I give motivation when it comes to packaging in terms of a prize…I’ll get to that later. Here are two pictures of packaged cookies that people brought last year. So gorgeous.
2. Come up with a guest list
I choose only my closest and dearest friends/family to invite to my cookie exchange because A. It keeps the group small and B. I know they won’t hate me for making them bake all of these cookies…well, if they do hate me they won’t say it to my face. This year, 15 women are invited in total, including me. That’s a lot of cookies. BUT! With 15 dozen different types of cookies, you won’t have to bake for the rest of the holiday season. So far 9 have RSVP’d yes…I’d say that’s a good start!
3. Make everyone tell you their recipe ahead of time
So you don’t get any repeat cookies at the party! It would kind of be awkward if 3 women showed up with the same exact cookie (although delicious all the same) so I have everyone send me their recipes. So far I haven’t had anyone send me the same recipe…I’ve been impressed! As an added bonus, my wonderful mother makes recipe booklets for everyone to take home, so if there was a cookie that you thought was completely amazing, you would have the recipe at the party! Each year she comes up with a theme for the book. Last year’s theme was “female pop music icons” and the year before that was “pin-up girls” which was adorable. I’m not sure what she’s got up her sleeve for this year’s book!
4. Feed your guests
This may just be a cookie exchange, but all of that sugar will be overwhelming for your guests to eat without any regular food as a base in their stomachs! I normally put out veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, some sort of hot dip, maybe another appetizer of some sort. You don’t have to get super fancy, just make sure that there is some food other than cookies.
5. BONUS! Prizes!
I offer 4 prizes at my cookie exchange: Best Tasting, Best Packaged, Most Festive, Best in Show (all-around best.) I make little goodie bags with some fun baking related things and other holiday items, and over the years I have learned that this makes my girls very competitive. Every year they one-up themselves, and it’s so much fun to see what everyone does.
6. Have fun
A cookie exchange is all about having a great time with great people that you may only see a few times a year. Don’t over-think things, don’t stress out, and relax.
Oh yeah, and just in case you wondered what I made last year?
That’s a LOT of peanut butter blossoms.