Why swap cookies? It simplifies your holiday baking to one recipe and who doesn’t love a cookie party!?! Every guest brings dozens of their choice of cookie and you all leave with a variety. Especially wonderful for using as a “plate of cookies” gift for neighbors or having a variety for your family celebrations. Here’s how you do it:
- Invite friends. Send an invitation via mail, email, or personal invitation. I love mailing an invitation but it seems that never gets done in time so there’s nothing wrong with an email invitation. Both of those choices are best but verbally inviting is acceptable. The invitation should include all the usual: date, time, location but also…
- instructions on how many cookies to bring. (I usually say 6 dozen because a lot of people get scared if you suggest more than that, if you have hard-core baking friends then a dozen per guest is ideal; for example if 8 people are attending, ask guests to bring 8 dozen cookies.)
- I ask guests to bring the cookies ready for display; on a platter, in a basket or Tupperware type container, that can be put on the table ready for grabbing.
- Unless you are providing a container for taking home cookies, ask them to bring an empty box or container for taking home.
- If you want them to let you know ahead of time what type of cookie they are bringing so you don’t get too many of one kind, be sure that is clearly on the invitation.
- If you want them to bring copies of their recipe put that on the invite.
- You might want to include an ornament exchange or a small gift exchange if all the guests already know each other.
Try to get the invitations out a month before the event since its such a busy time of year. Don’t try to invite too many people, especially your first exchange. 8 people is a good number to start. Be sure your instructions are clear.
2. Even if you are having guest bring a take home container, you should have some supplies on hand to package them for home.
3. Choose your cookie to bake. Try not to choose a fragile cookie that will break easily when packed up.
4. Make a plan. Decide a good place to display everyone’s cookies. A dining room table is perfect. If you have a small dining room table, put a few cake stands in the center to hold more cookie platters with easier access than flat on the table . A kitchen island would also be good. It’s ideal to be able to walk the circumference so everyone can walk around it to collect cookies. If you are using a place card stating the type of cookie/ who made it, you can get those cut/made, ready for writing in the information later. Start clearing your cookie area, there should be no clutter whatsoever on this spot. If you need to, pull the table away from a wall so people can walk around it. Move the dining chairs to the family room for extra seating and to open the path around the dining table.
There should also be a packaging area for wrapping up the cookies for travel, a bar or large kitchen counter. If you are providing the take home containers, keep your eye out wherever you go for inexpensive ideas. In the past I have used party trays from the party store, Christmas keepsake plates, Tupperware type containers, bakery boxes and even paper plates. You might even offer a variety of sizes; smaller containers or a plate for people giving away cookie plates to families/ neighbors, larger trays or boxes for people who do not need to separate their cookies. Have ziplock bags and plastic wrap also.
Menu plan– I like to have a few appetizer/finger foods that you can eat without a table since I use the table for the cookies. ‘No utensils needed’ food. You don’t need to provide a dinner. I think its best to serve a simple 2 or 3 item buffet of appetizers. maybe a cracker, cheese, meat tray or sandwich tray; and a hot appetizer. I don’t serve a dessert since the cookies are always sampled. I usually put a few bowls of candy/trail mix around and they always gets eaten. For drinks, coffee and tea are all you need.
5. Prizes– sometimes I award prizes for best tasting cookie, most unusual, prettiest cookie, who dressed the most festive, etc. I have done aprons for these awards. Usually I just do a take home gift for everyone. I have made bath salts and put into jars with labels and ribbons, I have done cookie cutters and jingle bells tied onto a christmas-y bowls and plates. If you are playing games at your cookie party, its fun to have little prizes also. Kitchen tools such as a whisk, or an oven mitt or cookie cutters, a christmas tree ornament, start looking early. I think either the take home gift or prizes for games and cookie awards, don’t try to do too much.
6. Games — games are optional and you should do what your group of invitees will enjoy. I like having games but it is some extra planning. I have done games in the past such as Word Scrambles; mix up the letters of Christmas song titles, or give clues to guess a song. These sometimes end up being a group game so prizes are hard to award. One of my favorites is to make up a list of items people might have in their purses and give them a point value depending on if its more rare. For example: hair brush, Chapstick, gum would be 5 points while library card, socks, granola bar could be worth 10 points.
7. Show time– When guest arrive just mingle and eat until everyone has arrived. I would do the cookie exchange next in case people need to leave early. I have food service gloves available for people to put on their grabbing hand. Everyone takes their ‘take home’ container and stands around the table. Walk around the table taking a certain amount of cookies from each plate. You can try to do the math but it seems the cookies are not always an even amount so I have everyone go around and take 10 cookies of each type until they get to where they started at the table. Then re-evaluate how many to take on the next round, and go around again, and again if you have more cookies on the plates, until they are gone. If you are playing games, do that after everyone gets their cookies packaged up.
Decorating for this party is no extra work, just your usual Christmas decorating!
One year I decorated the water bottles to look reindeer as seen in this photo.
Start a cookie exchange tradition this year!