How to Host a Cookie Exchange

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 The Spruce / Claire Cohen

Cookie exchange parties are a fun way to enjoy Christmas cookies without doing all the baking yourself.

What Is a Cookie Exchange Party?

You bake one kind of cookies and give all the other guests a half-dozen or so to take home, and they do the same. The result is that everyone only has to bake one kind of cookie, but goes home with dozens of different cookies! Keep in mind, this may take 2 to 4 weeks to set up, including planning.

What You Need

  • Invitations
  • Refreshments
  • Cookies
  • Table for Displaying Cookies and Recipes
  • Music and Decorations (optional)

Here's How

  1. Make your guest list. Six to 12 guests are optimal. That gives each guest at least six different kinds of cookies to take home.
  2. Give your guests written invitations for the cookie exchange with the instructions and rules.
  3. Determine whether you want the cookies for your cookie swap to be homemade, store-bought or short-cut cookies (such as slice and bake cookies).
  4. You can have your guests tell you what kind of cookies they plan to make in advance. Or you can assign each guest a different type of cookie. Or you can leave it to chance.
  5. Do the math, and tell your guests exactly how many cookies to bring on the invitation.
  6. Everyone should bring enough cookies so that each guest can leave with 6 to 12 cookies of each kind. So if you're having 10 guests, you'll ask each guest to bake 66 to 132 cookies: 10 guests + you = 11 people x 6 or 12 cookies each = 66 or 132 cookies. If you want guests to be able to eat cookies at the party, then ask them to bring another 6 to 12 cookies.
  7. Think about the packaging. One option is to have each guest bring a container holding all of her cookies, plus an empty container to fill with 6 to 12 of everybody else's cookies. This way, you just set out the big containers of cookies, and everyone fills her empty tin. Or you can ask your guests to bring cookies in individually packaged plastic bags or give-away containers with 6 to 12 cookies each.
  8. Everyone will want everyone else's recipes. One way to share recipes is to have guests print out copies of their recipes for people to take. Another way is to have each guest attach a recipe card to her individually-packaged cookies. Or you can have them email you the recipes in advance, and make up a quick recipe booklet on the computer.
  9. Set up a special table to display everyone's cookies along with their recipes.
  10. Anytime is a good time for a cookie exchange party! Just make it clear to your guests whether you are planning to serve cookies only, snacks, appetizers, brunch, dessert or a full meal.


  • Give out awards for the prettiest cookies, biggest, most unique, etc.
  • Consider letting your guests bring store-bought cookies. Some people don't enjoy baking.
  • If you are having your guests bring individually-wrapped packages of cookies, let them make the packaging as plain or fancy as they like. Craft stores sell inexpensive plastic bags that work well for this. And you can easily tie ribbons or attach recipe cards to those bags.
  • Tell people to avoid cookies that are heavily decorated or delicate. It's too easy for the icing to get messed up in the transportation. Here are some of the best cookies for cookie exchange parties.