Tips and Recipes to Host the Best Holiday Cookie Swap

Food, How-To, Living

Christmas baking

Sound easy enough to pull off? We have everything you need to organize the best holiday cookie swap of the season, including a baker’s dozen cookie recipes from some of our favorite blogs.

The Prep

Guest List

When planning your holiday cookie swap, remember that you’ll need to bake enough cookies so that everyone can take a few home. That means you might not want to invite thirty of your closest friends…unless they happen to be serious bakers. Shoot for up to ten friends who enjoy baking and who you think will all get along with one another.

Cookie Rules

The first rule of a holiday cookie swap is that no one talks about the holiday cookie swap.

Or is that from the movie Fight Club?

Either way, the holiday cookie swap rules are up to you, but you should definitely set some. Let guests know what the parameters are—such as, whether or not cookies should be made from scratch or if they should be holiday-themed. Don’t be afraid to delegate a little to ensure you don’t have three identical shortbreads.

Typically, guests bake a dozen cookies for every attendee. But a half dozen would work if the party is large (say, more than 10 participants) or if you just want a sampling of treats, not enough to feed an army over the holidays.

Plan the Party

Sure, the cookies are the star of the show, but you’ll also want to serve some some simple appetizers and beverages during the swap. Consider non-sweet dishes like French onion dip and chips or smoked salmon toast points, since you’ll probably be nibbling on cookies. Serve champagne or sparkling wine, or ask guests to bring a bottle of their favorite bubbly if you’re trying to cut costs.

Make sure you have a large table or counter space where guests can spread out their treats for the big exchange. You can be as creative as you like when decorating your table, but a simple runner and floral arrangements will generally leave you with plenty of room for treats. If you’re short on supplies, you can buy items a la carte from Sparkle & Dine, which offers curated table styling kits for any occasion.

In addition to aesthetic decor, stock up on serving trays for the cookies (or ask guests to bring their own) and buy extra plastic wrap and storage bags in case a guest forgets to bring a large container for toting home cookies.

Stock up on Ingredients

When you’re buying to cook or bake in bulk (you know…when you’re planning a few dozen cookies), grocery shopping can be a huge hassle. Between hauling five pound bags of flour and sugar around and struggling not to drop the bag with the carton of eggs, I’d just as soon have someone else do the shopping for me. Instacart is an online grocery delivery service that lets you order everything you need online or from your mobile phone and a personal shopper delivers them in as little as an hour. It’s especially perfect around the holiday season, when it’s too cold to go outside and you’d rather, say, keep the oven on to bake cookies.

The Recipes

Looking for the best Christmas cookie recipes? We did the reconnaissance for you so that when it’s time to do your holiday baking, you have more than a few options to choose from. Whether you fancy crisp chocolate chip cookies or melt-in-your-mouth shortbread, we’ve compiled recipes from around the internet to keep your ovens warm and your cookie trays full.

In the spirit of the holidays, ask your guests to send their recipes to you via email the day before the event so you can either print them out or compile them all in a document to email to your guests. Then everyone can add a variety of new recipes into their holiday recipe collections.

Photo: Kailley Lindman

Photo: Kailley Lindman

Sugar and Spice Cookies from Kailley’s Kitchen: Perfect for any seasonal gathering, these simple cookies are made with sugar and spice and everything nice…like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, to be precise.

Photo: Lisa Huff

Photo: Lisa Huff

Chocolate Turtle Cookies from Snappy Gourmet: We like to call these your classic chocolate chip cookies…gone rogue. They have a deep chocolate brownie flavor with added chocolate chips, caramel bits, and toasted pecans. They’ll make Santa very, very happy.

Photo: Susan Moran

Photo: Susan Moran

Pistachio Shortbread from The View from Great Island: If you love simple cookies with a slight twist, buttery shortbread dotted with festive pistachios is the way to break a holiday baking rut.

Photo: Karen Kerr

Photo: Karen Kerr

Vanilla Sables from Karen’s Kitchen Stories: There is nothing “vanilla” about these elegant sables, originally created by Dorie Greenspan, the godmother of baking herself. This cookie is sort of a cross between a sugar cookie and a butter cookie, perfect for munching and parties or a cookie swap.

Photo: Tracey Harrelson

Photo: Tracey Harrelson

Gingerbread Magic Bars from the Kitchen is My Playground: Once you’ve experience magic bar cookies, you’ll know where they found their name: if you can stop eating them, then it’s magic. This festive gingerbread version is even more magical, especially with a cup of coffee.

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  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Lisa Huff
    January 6, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Thanks for including my Chocolate Turtle Cookies! Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Tracey @ The Kitchen is My Playground
    January 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you so much for including my Gingerbread Magic Cookies in your post, Maris. Fabulous tips for hosting a fabulous cookie swap!
    Tracey @ The Kitchen is My Playground

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