How to Host a Cookie Exchange
Hosting the perfect cookie exchange during the holidays can be a great way to celebrate the season. It’s also a fabulous way to get your hands on as many delicious cookies as you can eat, without having to bake them yourself! Now that’s what I call a win-win scenario!
Brunch, mimosas, and cookies – sign me up!
I’ve partnered with McCormick Spice to bring you this post about hosting the perfect cookie exchange with delicious cookie ideas and brunch ideas for the special day. McCormick is my go-to brand of spices for all of my holiday baking and entertaining meals. Be sure to take advantage of the great deals on McCormick herbs and spices happening at Safeway through the end of the year to bring out the best flavor in your cooking.
I’ve hosted or participated in a holiday cookie exchange for the last 15 years. I’ve done both the small intimate brunch with an exchange and a large neighborhood exchange with over 40 guests. Either way, a cookie exchange is a perfect way to sample delicious holiday cookies in a festive setting.
Cookie Exchange Rules
Rules and cookies?
You see, to properly host a cookie exchange, you want to be sure that everyone goes home with equal amounts of cookies that they brought to the exchange and that you don’t have duplicate cookies. The point is to try many unique and delicious holiday cookies.
Cookie Exchange Rule #1: Send Invitations
Have a list of participants nailed down one week before the cookie exchange. Send an evite, an email, call a friend, or send a text to get the word out about the party. In the invitation (evite is the best in my opinion), ask your guests to reply with the cookie they are baking so that you don’t have duplicate cookies.
Ask for firm RSVP’s one week before the exchange so you know who’s coming and what they are bringing. You can also ask guests to bring a dish to share so that the hostess doesn’t have to prepare a full brunch in addition to baking her cookies.
Cookie Exchange Rule #2: How Many Cookies to Bake
Everyone bakes one type of cookie and a lot of them. You can decide how many cookies each person has to bake, but I’ve found that asking everyone to bake 6 dozen cookies is a good amount and gets the most participation. That’s just 72 cookies – so people will only need to double or triple a recipe to get that yield and they won’t have to spend all day baking.
If you have 12 people at your cookie exchange party, each person will go home with 6 of each kind of cookie. If you have 8 people at your party, each person will go home with 9 of each cookie, but either way, everyone will go home with 72 cookies.
In all the years I’ve hosted or attended a cookie exchange, chocolate chip cookies are by far the most popular (the Bon Appetit Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip cookies are the BEST), followed by peanut butter blossoms, cracker toffee and cookie bars with chocolate and nuts, peppermint bark and chewy ginger spice cookies. One of my all-time favorites is cranberry bliss bars.
When deciding which cookie to bake, think about what kind of cookies your family likes to eat and bake those. While cookie exchanges are a great opportunity to try new recipes, I don’t recommend trying a new recipe for a large yield cookie that you’ve never made before because you just don’t know if you will like it and add stress to an already busy season!
Here are some of the most popular trending cookie recipes on McCormick’s website this season for extra inspiration:
These Gingerbread Men Cookies are as cute as can be. If desired, decorate with raisins, currants or cinnamon red hot candies for eyes and buttons. Or, pipe untinted or Colorful Royal Icing onto cookies.
A delectable Southern treat, this bite-sized dessert is made with McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract, pecans, confectioners sugar and bourbon. Dip frozen balls in melted dark chocolate and top with a pecan half for a pretty presentation.
A traditional sugar cookie recipe where the dough is rolled, cut with holiday shapes and then decorated with icing.
Recreate the taste of pure maple syrup in this easy recipe. Flavor the rich penuche fudge with the authentic taste of McCormick® Maple Extract. Studded with pecans, it’s as tasty as it is pretty. Package it up for a holiday or any-day gift giving!
While this recipe may not be trending yet, it should be! An extravagant dessert of a fudgy brownie layered with peppermint filling and a rich chocolate glaze. You’ll want to include this in a holiday dessert tray or package for a cookie exchange or gift basket.
Rule # 3: Hosting the Exchange: a Brunch is a Great Option
A cookie swap doesn’t have to include a full sit-down meal, so you won’t need formal seating arrangements. But you do need a long table—or several smaller ones—with enough space to display each person’s dessert.
Create a cohesive look by showing off the treats on coordinating white dishes, or create a cozy, vintage atmosphere by using mismatched holiday serving platters and cake stands or use holiday decorations like sleds and boxes to create height and levels for the cookies. Include place cards with the name of each cookie and the baker who brought it (you can print these in advance or leave them blank for guests to fill in as they arrive).
Perfect Brunch Menu:
The perfect Brunch Menu consists of foods that are easy to prepare using simple ingredients that you have on hand. Something sweet, savory and something to snack on is always nice.
I suggest this delicious overnight cinnamon roll casserole for something sweet, a cheesy sausage and potato breakfast skillet for something savory and some rosemary dijon roasted potatoes, coffee, tea, and a sparkling beverage like a mimosa, or an apple pomegranate sparkler with some cranberry vodka.
A cookie exchange is also a perfect opportunity to host a hot chocolate bar.
Rule #4: Packaging the Cookies
Pick up festive holiday treat bags, inexpensive tins, pretty paper sleeves, and ribbons or bows from your local craft store. These add a seasonal touch to your party—and are cheerful alternatives to the plastic zipper bags and Tupperware containers most hosts send their guests home with. Make your own custom labels that include the name of your cookie to keep guests organized. You can either purchase cute holiday tags or print blank labels and write the name of your cookie. Affix the labels with red and white holiday twine when you seal your cookies in the treat bags.
Alternatively – if you don’t have a firm count of how many people are attending, you can ask everyone to bring the cookies on trays or in containers and divide the cookies evenly after the brunch. This is another way to go that is perhaps easier on some, but definitely takes away from the creativity of packaging the cookies which is part of the fun!
Here’s a collage of last year’s cookie exchange. You can see everyone really loves the creativity of the packaging part of the process!
This post is sponsored by McCormick to promote their buy 2 get 1 free spice sale at Safeway this week as well as to promote baking and using their spices to bring out the best flavors in everything you prepare. As always, we appreciate and encourage your support of the brands that make this site possible.
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