As holiday traditions go, attending or hosting a cookie swap is a great way to multi-task throughout the season. It offers a reason to get together with friends or others that you might otherwise be a little too busy to make time for when things really start to get too busy. Getting together for a cookie swap lets you exchange tokens of friendship, while making a well-deserved shortcut to your holiday baking task.
The basic idea for a successful cookie swap is to prepare a bunch of your own favorite cookies, then exchange them and the recipe with other cookie swappers, who have also brought their own favorite cookies.
It doesn’t have to be as formal as it might seem. It is a very easy get-together, actually. Invite friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, or anyone who loves cookies.
Tips For Hosting
1. Start inviting as much as a month out, December calendars fill fast.
2. Try to schedule your party at least two weeks before the holiday. Cookies are usually suitable for freezing until your main holiday event.
3. Plan a swap for after lunch or dinner, so it doesn’t involve serving a meal, just simple snacks, fresh fruit or veggies with dips and chips. Or schedule it for a suitable dessert hour, you can sample the cookies being swapped with a tall glass of milk, hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee, or tea.
4. Track your guests’ responses. Ask everyone to respond with the type of cookies they plan to bring, avoiding duplication.
5. A week out, make sure each baker knows how many cookies to bake, so each guest gets to take a hearty sample home. A reasonable suggestion is for each guest to bring six dozen of their own cookies, about two or three batches of a regular cookie recipe. Each guest will leave with six dozen cookies, no matter how many guests attend. Or base the number of cookies to bring on the number of guests, including yourself. For example, if you expect 12 guests, ask each person to bring 13 dozen cookies. The advantage to this approach is that everyone will leave with a full dozen of each cookie.
6. Bakers should bake their cookies about three days out.
7. Remind guests to bring their own empty tins or zipping plastic bags to take their cookies home in.
8. Ask guests to bring an extra half dozen of their cookies for the actual party, for sampling.
9. Ask guests to bring enough copies of their recipes for each guest. Or, have guests email their recipes ahead of time so you can print them on a standard-sized recipe card, 3×5 or 4×6 index cards. For a souvenir, bind them into a mini-cookbook for each guest.
10. Once everyone arrives, give everyone a chance to talk about their cookie, ingredients, its origin, or special meaning.
11. Think all year long. Cookie swaps work just as well for any time of the year, not just Christmas.