You bake one kind of cookie; you end up with an assortment of delicious cookies to last through the holidays―that’s the idea behind a cookie exchange. Here’s how to organize your most successful swap!
I love cookie swaps for a variety of reasons. First, I love the idea of being able to get so many delicious cookie treats I didn’t have to bake myself. Second, it’s always wonderful to get together with friends over cookies and wine and third, I just love cookies.
I love cookies so much I think I was the inspiration behind Sesame Street’s the Cookie Monster. I even played him in my daughter’s kindergarten graduation program!
What I don’t love is when I go to a cookie exchange party that has been poorly organized and folks show up with pretzels dipped in chocolate and call that a cookie.
You know what I mean – you’ve probably been to a few of those yourself.
But if you attend a well planned out cookie swap, it can be really amazing what you get to bring home.
How To Host the Most Successful Cookie Swap Party
One Month Before Party
1. Determine how many guests you’ll invite: This is the first mistake rookie swappers make – they invite too many people. I once attended a party with over 20 people. We all got to take home only three cookies from each tray. Shoot for a party of 8-10 friends.
2. Determine how much everyone will make: Typically each person bakes a dozen cookies for each attendee. So if you were to invite ten individuals and ten showed up, each person would arrive with 120 cookies. You could cut this amount in half if folks feel 120 cookies is just too much to make.
3. Set the rules: If you don’t set the rules inevitably someone will show up with those dipped pretzels or worse something store bought. If you’re expecting everything to be made from scratch, then say so in the invite. Don’t leave anyone guessing.
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Two Weeks Before the Party
1. Determine who’s coming and what they’re bringing: Make sure you don’t have three identical cookies coming. Ask the most experienced baker to switch her cookie choice or you could say ‘first come first choice’ as to encourage quick RSVPs.
2. Decide which cookie you’ll make and buy ingredients: When I host a cookie swap I already know I’ll be making my grandmother’s Italian Lemon Glazed Cookies. No one else knows how to make them in my circle of friends and people love them so much I know they’ll be a big hit. Because I’m making such a large batch of cookies, I’ll buy my supplies in bulk.
3. Decide on what snacks and drinks you’ll serve: Have snacks and finger foods on hand. I like to serve up items like cheese and crackers or veggie and dips. Nothing sweet since we have all those cookies we can sample!
4. Make sure you have a table large enough for the cookies: You’ll either need a large dining room table with the leaves inserted or some large folding tables to hold all the goodies.
One Week Before the Party
1. Make sure you have enough serving trays: Will you be providing all the plates to display the cookies or will guest be expected to bring their own? Decide and plan accordingly. Let guests know, but have a few extras on hand just in case.
2. Buy extra zip lock bags or storage containers: Without fail, someone will need a way to get their cookies home. If someone makes a peppermint or gingerbread cookie you’ll want to keep them separate from your other cookies or everything will taste like mint or gingerbread. Have Ziploc bags on hand and ready to dole out.
Two Days Before the Party
1. Bake your cookies: Don’t leave this to the last minute. You’ll be too frazzled, and if something goes wrong with the recipe, you won’t have enough time to bake more batches.
The Day Before the Party
1. Set up the room: Set up the room with a holiday tablecloth and holiday partyware. Remove chairs and other obstacles so folks can maneuver around the table without anything blocking their way.
2. Thaw cookies: If you made cookies ahead of time and froze them, now’s the time to remove them from the freezer and bring them to room temperature.
3. Prep appetizers: Get all the non-cookie food ready to go.
The Day of the Party
1. Set up drinks: I love to set up a drink bar on one of the sideboards in the dining room. To make it easy, I usually offer two choices: a nonalcoholic punch and an alcoholic option. I also put out pitchers of water with lemon. I leave cups and small napkins there too.
2. Put out cookies and food: Get everything set up and add any last minute decoration.
3. Make a plan: If folks don’t know each other have name tags. Invite each person to introduce themselves and their creations. Instruct guests how to move around the table and how many of each cookie to take.
The Day After the Party
Send an email requesting all the recipes. Then generate a master list of recipes and send to all swappers!
A successful cookie swap comes down to planning! Use these tips and strategies to ensure your most successful swap yet!