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Exchange Sweets and Heritage by Hosting a Holiday Cookie Swap

Six tips for hosting holiday cookie swap gatherings

By Kari Kynard Ridge on November 24, 2014

Livability Staff Photo

Cookie swaps are interactive holiday gatherings that help us learn more about friends and neighbors through the time spent together and the shared treats. By swapping hand-baked goods, cookie exchanges also allow participants to have an assortment of goodies on-hand for their own holiday guests.

Guests usually are asked to bake a set number of cookies to bring to the party to “swap.” Some exchanges stick with baked cookies – no candies or no-bake items allowed. Others are open to any type of treat that participants want to bake (or even buy) and share.

Attendees can also teach about their heritage through the sweets they bake if they bring cookies representing old family recipes or countries of origin.

Before you get out the mixer and baking sheets, be sure to check out these tips for hosting your own holiday cookie swap!

1. Consider Your Guest List

Just because someone is a friend does not mean that person bakes. To ensure success for your event, invite people who enjoy baking and parties. You might invite even casual acquaintances who are bakers and who can share about themselves and their homelands.

2. Decide on a Number

Many recipes yield four dozen cookies. This can be a manageable amount to ask each participant to bake, no matter how large or small the gathering. If you only invite four people, then each person bakes four dozen cookies to swap and takes home one dozen of each kind. Even a gathering of 20-plus participants can stick with each baking four dozen cookies and leave the party with an incredibly diverse assortment of goodies. Of course, in some groups of eight or 10, each dedicated cookie-baker actually bakes eight or 10 dozen cookies. Play with the math and make it work for you.

3. Be Container-Ready

Ask your guests to bring their cookies to be swapped on a plate or platter. Also ask them to bring another large container with a lid, in which they can gather the cookies others have brought to exchange.

4. Clear a Table

When guests arrive at your party, ask them to place their cookie offerings on a table, so these are easily accessible when it comes time to collect their exchanged goodies. You might also ask your guests to bring copies of the recipes they used (assuming they are not family secrets!), which can be placed in front of their platters.

5. Serve Snacks or a Meal

Cookie exchange parties are a great time to socialize with your friends and neighbors and relax for a couple of hours away from the hectic holiday season. Serve whatever refreshments that seem appropriate for the time of day your party is held and for this particular group. Many hosts stay with the theme and serve extra cookies they have baked.

6. Form an Assembly Line

At some point during the festivities, ask your guests to gather around the designated cookie table with their empty containers in hand. As host, you have determined how many cookies of each variety each person can take home. Make sure you also take the predetermined number of cookies, so your guests’ platters are cleared when they’re ready to leave. When the last cookie has been collected, you can soak up the glow that comes from hosting an enjoyable gathering and having your own assortment of treats to sample.

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