How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap

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Are you hosting a Holiday Cookie Exchange this year? Image via Wikipedia

If your family is like some of ours at the Arizona Farm Bureau, one of your favorite holiday memories would be the Saturday that all your aunts and girl cousins went to grandma’s house to spend the whole day making cookies. The dining room table would transform into a magical cookie wonderland as batches of snickerdoodles, divinity, chocolate fudge, and peanut butter balls arrived.   If you are looking for a great way to get together with friends and family or a different way to do something great for your community, hosting a cookie swap might be just the thing to bring some magic back to your holiday season.

There are two versions of the holiday cookie swap that have become popular in recent years.  One mirrors the cookie day at grandma’s house, the other is more socializing and swapping than baking.  To help you plan and pull off a great swap, here are the basics of hosting both.  Happy Baking!

The Basics

Regardless of which kind of swap you want to host, there are some basic things you need to do. 

First, make a guest list.  Depending on which kind of swap you are having and the size of your kitchen, your list can be from 5 to 30 people.   Because this time of year is so busy, you can generally invite twice as many people as you want to attend.

Second, pick a date and time.  If you are baking, it will be an all day event starting fairly early in the morning which means Saturday is generally the best bet.  A simple swap will take  1-3 hours depending on the number of attendees and can happen almost anytime.

Third, plan ahead.  Make sure you have a plan for how the party is going to run and make a list of the things you need to have on hand to be prepped and ready to go. 

From Flour to Flourish

If you have decided to host an all day cookie swap, there are three questions you need to answer before you send out invitations.

  1. How will recipes be chosen? – Will you ask people to make certain cookies or will each person bring their favorite recipe?  Do they need to tell you their recipe in advance so you can coordinate duplicates?
  2. Who will provide which ingredients? – Will you provide the basics like flour, sugar, eggs, and milk or does everyone need to bring all the ingredients for their own recipe?  If you are providing the basics, which are included and what do you need to know in order to make sure you have enough on hand?
  3. How will cookies be distributed? – Will the cookies be split evenly between the attendees?  Will you be making up plates for local churches, shelters, or senior homes? 

Once you answer those questions, send out your invites and let everyone know what you need them to bring and any other important details.  You will likely want to request that people bring a mixer, cookie sheets, mixing bowls, and cooling racks in addition to their ingredients to ensure you have enough on hand.  As a thank you for participating, you may also want to find some cookie tins or plates that can be used to transport the finished cookies home.  Don’t forget to spend the first 15 minutes making a game plan so that you can group together recipes that have similar cooking temperatures so that everyone knows what needs to be made next.

Simple Social and Swap

If you want to swap, but would rather spend time chatting than cooking, the simple swap is the way to go.  Make sure your invitation indicates how many cookies they should bring (usually one dozen per attendee) and explains how the swap will work.  For a fun door prize, you can give away a cookie recipe book or a Christmas cookie toolkit that has decorations and a cookie press.  Purchase cookie trays for each guest.  Set up a table where guests can get their own drinks so that you are free to participate and socialize.  Make sure you have enough surfaces to layout and display all the cookies in a way that makes it easy for guests to assemble their cookie trays.  Provide labels for each kind of cookie and encourage participants to note things like nuts on the label.  Ask everyone to submit their recipe ahead of time and provide each guest with a recipe book to take home at the end of the event.

Swapping on Fill Your Place

As you prepare to do your holiday baking, we at Fill Your Plate are wondering, what are some of your favorite holiday cookie recipes? Please share with us and we can host our own Holiday Cookie Swap right here online!

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