Are Cookie Exchanges still a thing? Yes! They are a wonderful easy event to plan during the holidays to connect with friends and family while adding to the variety of cookies you have on hand. Christmas Cookie Swaps have been around for over a hundred years, and the idea of Christmas cookies came over with the Dutch in the 1600s. We’ll look at the Christmas Cookie Exchange from a more recent time…the 2020s.
In this quick little holiday post, we’ll chat about 5 creative ideas to help you carry off a Christmas cookie swap that your guests would like to take the time to attend. The result of coming home with a variety of yummy Christmas delights is always appealing. The prep, performance anxiety, and time crunch dampen the overall attractiveness! Our Happy Hostess ideas on Quiet Hollow will attempt to diminish those roadblocks. (If you’re not familiar with the Happy Hostess concept, we approach entertaining from a biblical hospitality philosophy with the focus on blessing, not impressing our guests! See related posts at the bottom of this article for more info.)
We’ll include links to delicious cookie swap-worthy Christmas cookie recipes. Be watching for them below.
Cookie Exchange Basics (The Rules)
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How many guests? Unless you’re a glutton for punishment or you have help, and it’s not at your house, I suggest inviting 3-5 people. A small number also makes it easier for the guests when making and bringing the cookies. Since this will be an informal event, individual invitation texts would be appropriate. If you wanted to add some pizazz pop in color or a graphic, you could use Canva, PicMonkey, or even Evites to help.
When? You know your friends, but an evening get-together is typical. Maybe a weeknight would be less likely for other events. 1.5 to 2 hours should be plenty of time.
How many cookies? Typically figure to have enough from a half to a whole dozen for your guests to take home. If it’s just a cookie ‘eating’ party, have each guest bring a dozen. Request in the invite that they let you know which cookie they’ll bring.
What else? Decide what snacks and drinks you want to have on hand. Something salty and/or savory is smart with all the sweetness involved. The easier and cheaper your food and drink and paper products, the better! Cocoa, coffee, and some cold drinks would be perfect. But, if your crowd is hoping for some hot toddies or other Christmasy drinks those could be fun as well.
#1 The Store-Bought Cookie Swap
Okay, so how do we pull that off? Easy girlfriend. You make the rule that no one bakes! All the cookies need to be store-bought! No mixing or baking or ingredients of any kind. So, the Store-Bought Cookie Swap Party could be a blast. Gosh, it even sounds like a TV show on the Food Network or something.
#2 The Themed Christmas Cookie Exchange
Your theme could be “All-Chocolate” or “No-Bake” or “Iced Cookies” or “Vintage Cookies”, whatever Christmas cookie recipes or categories come to mind! Ask your friends what they think and go with the most popular. You could broaden the theme to the rest of the get-together.
If you prepped far enough in advance, you could have a vote on which theme was the most popular and then you could do a little research to find a few recipes to share with your friends. Have each group member identify the cookie recipe they’ll be making (to ensure a variety of themed goodies!)
Serve hot chocolate, or you could have your guests dress in vintage Christmas outfits!
#3 The No-Bake Cookie Exchange
Have your guests find and bring anything that doesn’t need to be baked in the oven. They could be no-bake cookies, candy, or popcorn balls. The stovetop or microwave can be used, just not the oven.
Again, communicating beforehand will be helpful. Part of the text/email invitation process to determine who’s bring what.
Have fun with it, and you should have some tasty treats to share!
#4 The Cookie Decorating Party
This isn’t really a Christmas Cookie Swap. But there are still cookies involved! Each guest should bring a dozen or two shaped sugar cookies (homemade or store-bought). You can provide colored frosting or a lot of white frosting (royal icing is the best) with food coloring available. You could also have sprinkles and other special things to add.
Supply photos of ways to decorate those cookies and let your guest’s artistic skills take over. As I said, this isn’t really an exchange; however, some sharing might happen. Depending on your group, you could have a prize for the cutest/ugliest Christmas cookie! Maybe a box of food coloring tubes or cookie cut-outs.
#5 Your Favorite Cookie Exchange Party
What are your favorite Christmas Cookies? Build your party around those. Assign each to a guest and provide them with the recipe. They could be getting a new recipe, and you’re getting your favorites. Win-Win! Here’s a post from last year about Vintage Christmas Cookies from my past; lots of memories for me and great cookies for you!
Let’s Wrap This Up
A Christmas Cookie Swap is a great way to get friends and/or family to celebrate this sacred season. In keeping with our Happy Hostess philosophy of keeping things low-stress and guest-focused. See How to Be a Stress-Free Happy Hostess to find out more.
We would LOVE to hear which Cookie Swap you chose to do with your friends! Or which one that you think would be the most fun. You could even host a virtual cookie exchange! Just pop a group of friends into Zoom and EAT Christmas cookies online. Here’s a link to small-batch Christmas cookie recipes if you want to make just enough for yourself. Click here for the recipes. If you’re interested in ‘regular batch’ Christmas cookie recipes, check out this collection of ‘31 of the Best Christmas Cookies’. The Recipe Rebel is one of my favorites for sharing yummy recipes all year round.
I have a category in Plan to Eat called “Christmas Cookies,” where I’ve saved some of my favorites. I love that I can keep adding to my categories and then share them with my friends!
Most of all, I wish you a blessed Christmas! May you find new and meaningful ways to celebrate Jesus’ birth. And I encourage you to discover creative ways to incorporate the Christmas story in your Cookie Exchange. ❤️
Favorite Holiday Links
Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.