How To Host A Holiday Cookie Exchange

It’s the best excuse to get together with friends and family—and eat a whole bunch of cookies!

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Tray of powdered butter pecan crescent cookies.

Photo, Erik Putz.

The holidays are a busy time. There are trees to trim, parties to attend and—most importantly—cookies to bake. How do you fit all these exciting events into one month? Start early, and plan a fun and productive cookie exchange with your family and friends. It’s a great solution, and a great excuse to get people together and into the holiday spirit, and the bonus is that you end up with enough cookies to last through the holidays.

Whether you’re holding or attending a cookie exchange, here’s a step-by-step checklist that can help your cookie swap run smoothly.

Get organized


Set a date for your cookie swap. Two to three weeks before the holidays or other pending dates. This will give guests time to decide what to bake, arrange for groceries, and the coordination of what cookies the group will make. To avoid duplications and to allow for a variety of cookies, have guests fill out a sign-up sheet with the following categories: icebox cookies, bar cookies, drop cookies, decorated cookies, etc.

Think about quantity

For every six to eight guests attending (including yourself), ask each person to bring at least three dozen cookies. This will ensure that every guest can take home 4 to 6 of each cookie variety. Ask guests to prepare a recipe or ingredient list. This is especially useful if you have guests attending who have food allergies.

Chatelaine New Holiday Cookies
Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Don’t forget the packaging

One week prior to the exchange, remind guests to bring copies of their cookie recipes and containers to take cookies home.

Keep parchment paper handy

On the day of the event, provide waxed paper or parchment for separating layers of cookies.

Have fun

Let the swapping begin, and we hope you all leave your party with a variety of cookies that will last you through the holidays.

How to make gingerbread cookies

  • Visit our Holiday Cookies page for 160 recipes

Originally published in December 2012; Updated in November 2019