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Notes from the Kitchen

Hosting a Cookie Swap Party

by Debby Maugans

Cookies are the heartbeat of Christmas baking. They are the quintessential treats that sweeten the holidays, and we look forward to baking and munching and giving year after year.

They are even an occasion for a party – and there are almost as many reasons to hold a Cookie Swap as there are cookies to bake for it.

A Cookie Swap is a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and neighbors, those you hold dear but with whom you don’t cross paths regularly during the year. Throwing the party will get you into the Christmas spirit like nothing else; it is a great reason to get your house decorated for the season. And who wouldn’t jump at a chance to attend for the camaraderie—and to be able to fill their cookie jars with a variety of home-baked goodies at the same time? Hardly anyone has time these days to bake multiple batches of cookie recipes; this way, all but the one you bring is baked for you, relieving you of stress and leaving you with more relaxing family time.

Each person brings a large batch of their favorite holiday cookies and copies of the recipe to the party. (No fair relying on chocolate chippers!) The hostess arranges them on her dining table, and partygoers take turns circling the table and filling plates or tins with samplings of everyone’s homemade cookies. It is a perfect way to enter the joy and pure deliciousness of the season.

Of course, there are other occasions where it would be more feasible to contribute one dozen cookies.  An office Cookie Swap makes a grand party; the only rule is that if you don’t make them yourself, the cookies should come from a yummy bakery.  If it is held at a restaurant after work, you may want to purchase take-home containers to pack each person’s assortment in.  Colorful holiday boxes and tins are available at craft stores.

Children love Cookie Swaps, too. If you make your child’s favorite, chances are all the attendees will be happy, too.  Just remember that children’s tastes can be picky when it comes to nuts and coconut, and you’ll need to pay special attention to potential food allergies when planning your contribution.

Your host has probably knocked herself out making sure the party is memorable, so make your cookies the stuff of urban legend. Some of the holiday classics here, such as Hidden Kisses or Mexican Wedding Cookies, are easy to make with everyday ingredients. Others are contemporary twists, such as White Chocolate Cherry Chunkies or Savannah Cheesecake Cookies.  Any of them will have your friends begging for your recipe!

Debby Maugans is the author of Small-Batch Baking. Her next book in the series is Small-Batch Chocolate Baking, available in early 2011. Debby writes a weekly food column for The Birmingham News, produces advertorials for Cooking Light, Real Simple, and Health magazines and works as a food and prop stylist. Along with a good friend, Debby writes a food blog combining funny haiku and delicious recipes to suit your mood. Visit Debby at

Next entry: New Year's Party Question 3
Previous entry: Candy Christmas

Reader Comments:


We had our 14 annual cookie swap last night, our neice does this every year. Great time to enjoy friends and family. I took your Savannah cheesecake cookie, Hooey gooy chocolate cookie and your three chocolate cookie the cheesecake cookie was the hit of the party, I put a small dollop of almond bark and some peppermint sprinkles on them So enjoy taking you with me

daphne of bradenton fl on December 21, 2009 10:41 AM

I hosted my first cookie swap this past fir., we had so much fun and so many cookies. I held this party to help everyone here get ready for the holiday’s. It is hard to get in the Christmas spirit when you are thousands of miles away from your family’s and all you have here is friends. This will be my first Christmas without my husband in 10 years and I am trying to make the best of it. Merry Christmas from a Ga. girl living in Turkey smile

Amanda Jenkins of Adana, Turkey AFB on December 23, 2009 08:19 AM


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