Part Celebration, Part Baking Exchange – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

The Christmas cookie swap is an evergreen tradition, a great way to share sweetness and celebrate the community (and ease our Christmas baking loads!).

The premise is simple: each guest has the task of bringing a few dozen homemade cookies. At the party everyone can taste and share, and towards the end each guest puts together a container with different biscuits from all the bakers present. The result? Lots of different cookies for the price to bake a double batch of a recipe.

Some tips for putting together a cookie exchange for friends, work colleagues, neighbors, your school community, and more:

Eight to 12 guests are a good number for a manageable exchange of biscuits with a wide variety of baked goods.

You can send out invitations by email, online, or on paper when you have the time. Let people know as much as you can during this busy time of year. A Sunday afternoon might be a good choice, or maybe early on a weekday.

Make sure you understand what is expected of people. Include a minimum number of cookies (2 or 3 dozen is good) and let guests know that cookie selection is done on a first-to-call-it system (e.g. whoever claims first to deliver gingerbread got gingerbread).

Websites like SignUp Genius are useful for this and also allow you to send out invitations, reminders and changes to plans. Ask your guests not to repeat a previous registration so that you have a lot of variety. (You may need to carefully tell a guest that nut-free snowball cookies have been spoken for and ask them to choose something else). Provide a deadline to sign up so everyone can complete their recipe and shop by ingredient.

Watch out for allergies. If you don’t want to check out recipes for common allergens like nuts and dairy products, mention this ahead of time so guests can decide if this is the right event for them. If you have nutritional parameters such as If, for example, you don’t want to consider nut products, be very clear. Ask people to bring a copy of their prescription for reference.

Let guests know if they should bring their own platters and / or containers to take away or if you will provide them. Either way, you should have extra containers on hand.

You might just want to put some of each person’s cookies out to try and save the rest for the second part of the party when guests assemble their take-away containers. So you can be sure that you have enough for the replacement part.

Keep the biscuit buffet simple and use the containers people brought with them, or if you want to go fancy, display the goodies on plates, platters, maybe tiered stands. Remember to create labels for each cookie offering. You can ask guests to provide their cookie name and ingredient list in advance and create the labels themselves (cardboard pop-up labels are good), or ask each person to bring a card with the name and ingredients clearly written out. Have some extra blank labels ready.

Offer other foods or snacks. That can mean anything from lasagna and salad to vegetables, fries and dips to small sandwiches or maybe a nice cheese / sausage or a wicker board. First, most people want to nibble on something other than candy. Second, you don’t want to go through too many of these cookies! The aim is to provide a supply for every home for the holidays – and maybe something to give away as well.

Create a simple self-service drinks bar. Maybe wine and beer, some soft drinks and mineral water. This could be a great opportunity to make a serving of eggnog or coquito! Think of a warm drink like mulled wine, mulled wine, hot cocoa, or even tea and coffee.

To share recipes electronically, you can set up a shared Google Document, Facebook group, or other community portal.

Finally, you may want to bake and freeze your own cookies ahead of time so you can focus on collecting and having fun. These type of get-togethers are an opportunity to celebrate with friends and feel like you are one step ahead on your vacation to-do list. And this really is a party of the best of both worlds.

Katie Workman is a regular contributor to The Associated Press about food. She has written two cookbooks that focus on family-friendly cooking: “Dinner Solved!” And “The Mama 100 Cookbook”. She blogs at


Cookie Swap 101: Part Celebration, Part Baking Exchange