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8 Tips for Hosting a Sweet Holiday Cookie Exchange

Want to throw the perfect Christmas cookie exchange? Nail it with these easy holiday ideas.

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Taste of Home

How to host your best-ever cookie exchange

You just can’t beat a cozy holiday party. Toss in the idea of taking home dozens of Christmas cookies and a holiday cookie swap rises to the top of the Christmas-party heap! Consider these tips for a fun, festive and stress-free cookie exchange!

And be sure to check out our other favorite holiday party themes here.

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Taste of Home

1. Choose when and where

There are lots of parties this season, so think about what day and time make the most sense for your friends and family. A weeknight get-together? A Sunday Funday? You know your group best; just remember to invite everyone several weeks in advance so guests have time to bake and clear their schedules.

Be sure to keep these freezer-ready cookie recipes in your back pocket just in case the holidays get hectic.

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Christmas card craftsTaste of Home

2. Get creative with your invites

Digital invites save money and get the word out quickly but can get overlooked in bustling inboxes. Consider going old school with printed invitations people hold onto and hang on the fridge (we made these from last year’s Christmas cards). No time to be creative? Hit the web for some cute cookie exchange invites!

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Taste of Home

3. Be clear on what you expect

In addition to the invite must-haves (date, time, location), let guests know how many cookies to bring and how many varieties. Two dozen of one type of cookie? Three types of cookies at a dozen of each type? A minimum of a dozen cookies per guest is a good starting point. If you’re planning on a lot of guests, though, you’ll want to encourage folks to bring more cookies.

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Country Woman

4. Keep the rest simple

The cookies are the focus of this party, so don’t fret too much about the extras. Have coffee on hand and a few easy holiday apps out for snacking. You can always sample a few extra cookies, too.

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Taste of Home

5. Clear a spot for cookies

Choose a spot to set out the cookies. A dining room table or kitchen island is ideal, particularly if guests can walk completely around the table when choosing their treats. As guests arrive, ask them to fill out a place card for marking their treats. Set the cards in front of the cookies so everyone knows which cookie is which.

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Taste of Home

6. Set the rules

A cookie exchange is not meant to be an all-you-can-pick cookie buffet. Let guests know how many cookies they can take home so everyone ends up with plenty. If it helps, suggest people take a handful (perhaps just four or five) of cookies on their first lap around the table. Then continue making laps until all the cookies are taken. That way everyone can try all the cookies (and you won’t have friends fighting over the last of your newest cookie recipe).

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Taste of Home

7. Wrap ’em up

Offer guests disposable storage containers or cookie tins so they can pile in their sweets to take home. You can go cheap with disposable aluminum pans from a dollar store or get fancy and buy decorative serving plates that guests can take home as your holiday gift to them.

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Taste of Home

8. Keep it merry and bright

Who cares if Susan brought chocolate-covered pretzels instead of cookies? Big deal if Chris snuck in some cookies from the bakery. Let it go. Everyone is there to have fun—it’s Christmas, after all! Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sweet success of your incredible cookie exchange party.

Up Next: Check out how to make the sweetest hot chocolate board.

Mark Hagen
The former owner of his own catering business, Mark’s been part of the Taste of Home team for the past 20 years. His work has also appeared in Quick Cooking, Light & Tasty and Country Woman magazines as well as in various Pillsbury and Betty Crocker cookbooks. When he’s not spending time in the kitchen with his Westie, Rocco, he’s working in his yard, doing stand-up comedy or devouring a platter of nachos. (Most likely the latter.)