Earlier this month, I hosted my second annual Christmas cookie exchange. I hosted my first cookie exchange in 2019, took 2020 off, and was thrilled to be back this year for my second annual fête. I have to tell you, both of my cookie exchanges have been an absolute blast and so much fun for me to host! After this year’s party, I received a lot of questions about how I hosted my cookie exchange so I thought I’d write a blog post on it. I think it’s one of the easiest types of parties to host so if you’ve been looking for an annual holiday party of your own to host, then this might be the one for you!
I really like the idea of hosting an annual holiday party because it feels so special to watch the party evolve over the years, to reflect back on years past, and to gather years worth of memories from your special occasion. Here are my tips for how to host a Christmas cookie exchange.
How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange
Are you wondering how to host a Christmas cookie exchange? What is a cookie exchange? It’s a chance to bake your favorite Christmas cookies or beloved family Christmas cookie recipes and swap them with friends! I’ve got 7 easy tips to help you pull off the perfect holiday cookie swap.
Invite Your Guests
Maybe someday I’ve send out a fantastic paper invitation for my cookie exchange but, for now, I’m all about the evite. Lucky for me, Paperless Post has lots of options for holiday cookie exchange party invitations so it’s fun to pick out a festive invitation to send out to guests. I am very much of the mindset of the more the merrier at the holidays! It is such a marvelous time to gather and celebrate the little things in life like cookies!
On my invitations, I cover the important information: date, time, address etc as well as a few instructions. To my guests, I ask that they each please bring two dozen cookies to the party. I ask guests who are gluten free, nut free, dairy free etc, to please bring a cookie that they can eat because chances are there will be others with dietary restrictions like them who are grateful for their cookies.
Decorating for a holiday cookie swap is so easy because your house is presumably already decorated for Christmas. All you have to do if give your house a nice cleaning and dress up your cookie table(s). I set up my dining room table and a second table for guests to place their cookie platters on. I dressed up my cookie tables with a beautiful Mrs. Alice tablecloth, etched hurricanes, candle votives, and some coastal-inspired Christmas trees.
One thing I haven’t done either year that I plan to do in future years, is to put out place cards for guests to fill in with their cookie name and any dietary notes if applicable (i.e. gf, dairy-free, nut-free etc.). I think it will be nice for guests to label their cookies because guests often fill up their cookie boxes at different times so the bakers aren’t always in the room to share if their cookies are gingerbread cookies or almond spritz cookies.
Holiday Cookie Platters: One / Two / Three
Tablecloth: One / Two / Three / Four / Five
Etched Glass Hurricanes: One / Two / Three / Four / Five
Place Cards: One / Two / Three / Four / Five
Food and Refreshments
I have hosted my cookie exchange in the evening but I also love the idea of hosting it on a weekend morning. Either way, bites are a must. After all, you want your guests to leave with a cookie loot, not eat all the cookies at the party. I provide simple bites like biscuits, tea sandwiches, and crudités. I pick bites that are easy to pull together or cater with minimal cleanup and mess. I’ve used Hamby for delicious and easy to-go catering in the past.
I have enlisted the help of Edwin every year to bartend my cookie exchange. Each year, he has gathered a few friends and they bartend the party. I invite only women so it’s a fun surprise to have the men behind the bar. Each each, I have opted for a full bar because I just prefer that vibe at a party. I think it sets the tone that it is a holiday party, not just a gathering. We serve wine, champagne, a spiked cider (using this!), and have a full liquor setup for cocktails. Like I mentioned above, it’s a really fun party!
Offer Pretty Packaging
Your guests will need a way to take all of their delicious cookies home with them. You can find cute cookie tins or I love these holiday cookie gift boxes from the Favor Design Studio. They have so many adorable boxes to choose from and they can all be personalized. For the holiday cookie box I use, you can customize the label, pick your ribbon color, and pick your box option… so many ways to make your boxes special for you.
Charleston Cookie Bakers
I quickly realized that, as host, I didn’t have time to bake cookies the day of the party. So, I’ve enlisted some local cookie extraordinaries to make delicious cookies for me. There are some seriously talented bakers and cookie decorators in this town whose cookies are beautiful little works of art. In Charleston, I recommend This Must Be The Cookie (who did my fantastic Charleston door and snow globe cookies in the below photos!), Bullfish Cookie Company (I have used her and she’s also amazing!), Charleston Sweets, and Charleston Cookies.
Cookie Decorating Table
I have opted not to do a cookie decorating table but it is a fun interactive idea, especially if you have kids at your party. Simply make or have sugar cookies made in different Christmas shapes along with frostings, sprinkles, and other decorating items. Let guests go to town with their creativity!
Cookie Recipe Book
I haven’t taken on this endeavor yet but I love the idea! Ask guests to send in the recipes for the cookies they make so you can provide copies for all your guests. As a party favor, you can combine all the recipes into a book for each party guest to take home, prepare individual recipe sheets so guests can take the recipes they want to try home, or email out the recipes the day after the party as a thank you. P.S. If you do this, this can be optional for guests if they so choose to send their recipes in.