How to Have a Cookie Swap

How to Have a Cookie Swap

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.



I was chatting with a few of my friends one November day when I learned that a few of them had never heard of a holiday cookie exchange. Cue the record scratch!

Where I grew up cookie exchanges were as much a part of the holidays as putting the lights on the house and hanging up the stockings. We looked forward to our friends’ annual parties and the plethora of homemade cookies and candies that would last us through the holiday season until just the sad half-eaten rejects remained. We would set out a nice crystal plate with mixed cookies for our guests to nibble on throughout the holiday season.

How-to-have-a-cookie-swap-2The favorite at our swap were these Bourbon Dark Chocolate Crack Cookies

Perhaps the cookie exchange is a new phenomenon to you too. For these parties, each guest is instructed to bring a certain amount of cookies, and then everyone goes home with a mixed container of each other person’s cookies. As long as you are all together, it’s a great excuse for eating, drinking, and general merriment, of course!

I decided to call mine a cookie swap because it felt like a fun way to share the atmosphere of the Food Swaps I like to take part in with my friends.

How-to-have-a-cookie-swap-3A plate of colorful sugar cookies

Here’s How to Throw your own Cookie Swap:

1. Set your parameters: Determine how many people you are going to invite and how many cookies they should bring. The more cookies each person is required to bring, the more of each kind they get to take home. Getting only two of each cookie isn’t much fun if you have lots of other people sharing your cookie plate at home!

That said, you have to know your audience. The parties I attended while growing up asked each person to bring four dozen, but I knew that would never happen with my group of friends. I asked them each to bring two dozen homemade cookies or candies. (If you have gluten-free friends, stress the candy option. This includes fudge, toffee, caramels, etc.)

2. Send the invitations: Decide whether or not you want to go digital or snail mail on your invites. You can create and send cute free invitations on sites like Punchbowl and Evite.


3. Deck your halls: I used luminaries, pinecones, and a few cut out words on the wall. My tiny fiber-optic tree was a crowd favorite. Don’t forget to create a Christmas playlist to set a festive atmosphere.

4. Make some delicious snacks and libations: I went with some easy finger foods and bites so I wouldn’t need to worry about utensils. These included an asparagus tart, gougeres, pickles, olives, salami, cheese fondue, prosciutto-wrapped dates, and a persimmon tart. I tried to keep most of the food savory since there were so many sweets awaiting us! For beverages I kept it simple with a large batch of rum punch and a shrub for a non-alcoholic option.


5. Get Swapping: Once everyone has arrived and mingled a bit, let the exchanging begin! Traditionally each person takes a certain amount of cookies from each person’s plate according to how many cookies people were instructed to bring – if you have eight people and each person brought four dozen cookies, guests should grab six of each type of cookie.

With so many allergies and food exclusions these days though, I just told my guests to take home the same amount of cookies they brought. Leftovers were for the snacking! It’s host’s choice on how to orchestrate the swapping. The swapping feels like a natural bookend to the party though, so I recommend holding off until things begin to settle down.

That’s it! What’s not to like about a party that centers around cookies?! The best part of a cookie swap is that you only need to worry about baking one kind of cookie and you get to go home with a huge variety of things you wouldn’t make yourself.

A Cookie Swap Party is a great way to round up your nearest and dearest during this crazy time of year, and also cheat on your holiday baking!

we heartsters – Have you ever been to or hosted a cookie exchange?

photos: heather for we heart this

Heather is a midwesterner living in Los Angeles and enjoys concocting weird flavor combinations and exploring delicious ethnic foods. She blogs at foodforfunandpleasure and knows her way around the spice cabinet like nobody’s business.

6 thoughts on “How to Have a Cookie Swap”

  1. LOVE your cookie swap. My friends and I thought about doing one this year, but several women in our group aren’t bakers…so we chose an ornament exchange instead. Can I be your friend – so I can come to YOUR party next year? LOL! Thanks for the fun post. Next year, I really want to do this. Loved your savory menu, as well.

  2. I am far from a baker, but I knew I had to do my best just so I could partake in the merriment of the cookie swap! I went with the classic – chocolate chip cookies (and surprisingly there was only one other batch as part of the swap).

    I have to say this party was so much fun – the asparagus tarts were insanely good (as were all the nibbles provided by @Heather) and I had a nice time getting to know a few new friends.

    Of course the best part of all was that you get to go home with two dozen cookies in all sorts of flavors. I ate them ALL over the next two nights with a big glass of milk in front of the tv. Not good for my diet, but it’s the Holiday’s – live a little.

    And I am totally making those Bourbon Dark Chocolate Crack Cookies the next time I have to bake something. They were some of the best cookies I have ever had (and I wish I had two dozen of those right now!).

  3. I’m so glad you came @Tyna! Your cookies totally held their own! You’ll definitely have to make the Bourbon Crack Cookies because somehow I missed the boat on that one! I foresee that you will be a baking pro come next year’s party!

  4. I have never participated in a cookie swap, but have always wanted to. I fear the cookies would not last very long with me, since almost any cookies are my favorite, with a giant glass of milk! The Bourbon Crack Cookies sound divine!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *