A Happy Life

Plan a Holiday Cookie Exchange


I know I have said it before, and I am going to say it again – cookies are my favorite.  I love making them all year round, but the variety you get to make during the holidays beat the rest of the year hands down.  Like most people I don’t have enough time & money, or spend enough time in the gym to make all the different kinds of cookies I really want.  The easy solution is to Plan A Holiday Cookie Exchange.

Never heard of a cookie exchange?  It is the best thing ever.  You get a couple of friends to bake different types of cookies, then you get together and drink hot cocoa and take a break from your crazy family during December.  When you go home you have a wide variety of cookies that you can either keep for house, give as gifts, or take to a party.

There are a few things you need to do to prep for your Holiday Cookie Exchange to make sure it goes off without a hitch, but once you have it planned you are set!


To Set-up For Your Party


Layout the rules.

I know having rules for a cookie party is not fun at all but for an exchange it is necessary.  There are a few things you need to work out ahead of time.

  1. How many sets of cookies each person is responsible for bringing {normally each person will bring a dozen cookies per attendee to swap}.  How to bring the cookies.  Do they need to be in tins or will ziploc bags be ok?
  2. Can the cookies have frosting that needs to be treated special?
  3. Does anyone have an allergy to peanuts, coconut, etc that needs to be avoided.  Does someone need to make gluten free?
  4. Will brownies and truffles be acceptable?


Plan your invite list.

There are two types of cookie exchanges: small or large.  Both have good points it just depends on how many people you trust to show up with awesome (and edible) cookies.

Small Exchanges:  I like small exchanges best.  If you keep the invite list to 5 or less it is easier.  If people only have to make 5-6 dozen cookies they are more likely to choose a fancier cookie that will take more time.  You might get some pressed cookies, Lintz, or even a decorated sugar cookie with painted frosting if you are lucky.

Large Exchanges:  If you are going to invite more people to your exchange than tell everyone a specific number of sets they need to bring.  Say everyone brings 3 dozen, they get to take home 3 dozen from other people.  Deciding who gets what can be tricky.  There could be a raffle, a pass the tin to the left kind of game, or set them out on a table and let it be a free for all.

For those who just can’t bake:  We all have that one friend who is awesome and we don’t want to exclude from the fun, but bless her heart she can’t bake a cookie to save her life.  Ask her to host the party in exchange for a set of cookies from everyone.  If you have two friends let the other one be in charge of the cookie roster and passing them out.



Have a Sign-up Sheet

The great part about a cookie exchange is the variety of cookies you get to take home.  If everyone shows up with a batch of snickerdoodles it is going to be a competition of who did it best instead of a cozy relaxing afternoon among girlfriends.  When you send out your invites ask your friends what they are going to bring.  If they need to check the recipe book that is fine, but let them know only one person can bring each type of cookie so they need to get their name down so they don’t get edged out of making what they want.


Send out a printable recipe card.

This is more of an option, but it is going to save you time and hassle.  If you email everyone a printable to write down their recipes before they get to the party they can hand out the card with each set of cookies.

The easiest way to get free recipe cards is to just type ‘Free Holdiay Recipe Card’ into Pinterest and find a free design that you love!

This is important for several reasons.

  1. If you love the cookie you have the recipe to make it on your own.
  2. If you have to worry about allergies you will know exactly what is in the cookie.
  3. This is for the people watching thier calories – you know how many cookies you can snarf before you go over your daily calorie budget.  Not all sugar cookies are the same!



Pick a place and time for the party.

You want to find a place for your cookie exchange that is going to be both awesome and stress free.  My group like to meet at a little coffee shop here in town.  We take over two of the big tables in the back.  We grab a hot drink from the counter and hang out for a few hours.  The coffee shop loves it because they always get a tin of cookies from someone, we are a fun group who always clean up after ourselves and we leave a tip.

I think meeting in a coffee shop is awesome because no one has to clean their house and set it up for a get together when you know everyone’s house is a mess getting ready for the holidays, and there is always parking!



I hope this inspires you to call your friends and set up a cookie exchange in time for the holidays.  The beauty of a cookie exchange is you don’t have to limit it to just the Holidays.  My group also has a cookie exchange on Easter, a brownie exchange for the 4th of July, and a cocoa exchange after Halloween.

If you need inspiration for what you should make for the cookie exchange check out my post, Ideas for Your Holiday Cookie Exchange!  It has ten recipes that range from easy to wow.  One is a no bake Newfoundland Snowball, there is an Award Winning Gingerbread, and a spiral that will blow your mind!


Happy Holidays & Fun Baking from

A Bustling Home!

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