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How to Host a Cookie Exchange

Make your Christmas cookie recipes the social highlight of the holiday season with this easy how-to guide for throwing a cookie exchange.

By: Ashley Jones, Editor, AllFreeHolidayCrafts.com
How to Host a Cookie Exchange
How to Host a Cookie Exchange
This image courtesy of AllFreeHolidayCrafts.com

Just like the ironic ugly Christmas sweater, cookie exchanges are quickly becoming one of the most popular Christmas staples during the holiday season. If you're attempting to throw your first ever cookie exchange, don't stress because we've got you covered. This list teaches you How to Host a Cookie Exchange, from planning out your party list to deciding what cookies to make. These cookie exchange ideas are a step-by-step guide to throwing your own DIY cookie swap with style and is guaranteed to make your party the most popular social event of the Christmas season.
No matter your party theme, whether you go with a classic and elegant vibe to a colorful Nutcracker Christmas, this fail-proof list is your go-to for party dos and do nots. Our cookie exchange rules cover party etiquette, Christmas decoration ideas, and how to occupy little ones. Our DIY party list even discusses building your own cookie packaging station so that you can tastefully decorate and wrap your treats. With our how to throw the best cookie exchange guide, you can't go wrong!

Planning Your Cookie Exchange

Throwing your own cookie swap may seem intimidating at first, but we promise that our how-to guide will make party planning super easy and stress free! With this free how-to guide, you'll be able to throw the perfect holiday bash that all of your friends will adore. If you absolutely love this step-by-step cookie exchange guide, be sure to check out our list of unique and fun party ideas that you wish you'd thought of.

Cookie Exchange Guide

  1. Choose your theme. Decide what mood you'd like to set with your party. For a classic and elegant Christmas shindig, you may want to choose a more refined color palette for your decorations (like black, white, and gold), and create an upscale menu with items like meringues or fruit tarts. You can always go with the traditional Christmas colors of red and green and include holiday favorites, like sugar cookies, thumbprint cookies, and tasty gingerbread men ideas. A full-on winter theme of silvers and blues is a great way to transform your party space into a winter wonderland or choose a wacky holiday theme, like Christmas goes Tropical, to include new and unusual desserts.

  2. Create your guest list.  A guest list of between 7-10 people is ideal, so that there's a good variety of cookies and still keeps an intimate feel for your gathering.  Choose invitations that compliment your theme.  If you're going with a stream-lined chic look, you may want simple invitations with gold or silver leafing or red and green envelopes with Christmas stamps and designs for a traditional holiday theme.  Make sure to state that guests should bring copies of their recipes and should be prepared to bake a dozen cookies for every guest in attendance.  Guests can also bring supplies for pretty packaging, like ribbon, handmade gift tags, or boxes and bows.

  3. Decide the date, time, and rules, and send your invitation. After creating your guest list, choose a date and time that works best for your guests and their holiday schedules. Your guests should send their recipes ahead of time to avoid cookie duplicates. Give your guests a set of clear and simple instructions like the following:
    - Cookies should be homemade and seasonally appropriate.
    - Cookies should be able to last several days after baking.
    - Cookies should be made by an adult.
    - Please keep allergies in mind.
    - No burnt cookies, please.
    - Please bring recipe cards with your cookie recipe listed to share with other guests.
    Stumped for ideas on what to bake?  Check out this list of cookie ideas:
    - Snow Colorful Homemade Cookies
    - Oh So Simple Snickerdoodle Recipe
    - Sweet and Easy Spritz Cookie Recipe
    - Iced Gingerbread Cookie Tower

  4. Decorate your table. You've sent out your invitations and created your tasting menu, so now it's time to decorate your table. Gather festive dishes, bowls, and cake stands to hold everyone's tasty contributions. So that everyone knows the chef and type of cookie, create personal placecards that echo your theme for each attendee. You can even create a chalkboard menu to list each type of cookie.

  5. Set up a cookie packaging station. Even though you've asked guests to bring materials, it's always good to have some extra gift wrap on hand. Be sure to include every element of festive wrapping, including name tags, ribbon, sturdy paper plates, cellophane, and any other trimmings. You can even provide inexpensive bakery boxes to give your guests the ultimate special experience. 

  6. Set the mood with food, games, and music. Create a themed playlist to match your overall party theme. You can choose classic Christmas carols for a more traditional party, jazzy tunes for a chic party vibe, or even Carribbean music for a tropical holiday theme. Even though you're sure to have plenty of delicious cookies on hand, cookies at exchanges are actually meant to be taken home and shared with family, so make sure your guests don't go hungry with appetizers, savory foods, and a great list of mixed drinks. As for games, traditional games like Secret Santa or White Elephant are always a fantastic go-to activity and, of course, your guests can vote on their favorite cookie of the evening. For little ones attending, a sugar cookie decorating station is a fun way to occupy kids while letting them design their own tasty treats.

  7. Get your party on! You've worked super hard on this cookie exchange, so have a blast relaxing with friends and family. By following these steps, your holiday party is sure to be the trending topic among your acquaintances for months after you've thrown your bash.

What's your favorite Christmas cookie recipe? Share your recipes and party tips below in the comments!

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