Tips for hosting a fun cookie swap party
Get started by using the following simple steps to host a fun and tasty event.
One month before the party
Begin preparing for your cookie exchange in advance so you have ample time to try out some new recipes, make a guest list, and bake cookies. The following are the things to do one month before the event:
Create your guest list
While it can be tempting to invite every friend and acquaintance you know to the fun event, it is better to scale your guest list back a bit. Keep in mind everyone will need to bake enough cookies for the entire crowd, so it is best not to make the process overwhelming. Generally, cookie swaps work out best when you plan for a maximum of 7 to 10 guests. When sending out invites, prioritize those who enjoy baking to get an ideal guest list.
Make the rules
For your event to be organized, it may help to have some structure and guidance. Be as lenient as possible when creating party guidelines. Here are a few questions that can help you create agreeable rules to pass to your guests:
- Can guests bring any finger food desserts or specific types of cookies?
- Are these strictly homemade cookies, or can guests tag along with store-bought cookies?
- Is there an ideal number of cookies that guests should bring?
Decide on a theme
While “Cookie Swap” is a popular theme for your event, consider putting a personal spin by asking guests to bring treats that share some similarities. This may mean asking everyone to use one specific primary ingredient, bake cookies in the same color, or follow general recipe guidelines such as easy to freeze, quick and simple, and family favorites.
Send out the invites
When picking the date and sending out invites, be mindful of your guests’ busy holiday season schedule. This is why sending out your invites one month in advance is advisable. Ask around before choosing an ideal date that allows most guests to attend. Remember to get creative with your invites! Emails and texts don’t have the same festive flavor as paper invitations. Instead, opt for old school with printed invites that can be hung on the fridge.
Two to one week before
Two weeks before the event, check RSVPs and who is making what to ensure no overlaps. If there are three or more identical shortbreads, tactfully suggest someone switch their choice. Choose the most experienced baker who won’t be fazed by the idea of starting all over.
Bake the cookies
Decide on your cookie and shop for ingredients. You can get some inspiration from your state’s most popular holiday cookies or choose a menu based on your family’s heritage. To avoid the inconveniences of last-minute preparation, bake your cookies a couple of days before the party and freeze them.
Share the recipe
Days before the party, ask each guest to email the recipe for the cookie they plan to make. Combine all the recipes into a book you will issue each guest as they leave. This allows attendees who want to recreate the cookies they receive or start a cookie recipe collection to add each year.
Three days before
Prepare some snacks and drinks
Having some simple appetizers and beverages on hand will surely add some cheer to your cookie swap party. Prepare a selection of light bites and fresh fruit to balance out the sweets. You can also consider non-sweet options such as cheese and charcuterie board, fresh fruit and cheese, vegetable dips, or finger sandwiches. If possible, offer favorite winter beverages such as hot toddies, cocoa, cider, and an assortment of cocktails.
Set up the table
Generally, cookie swaps don’t include a sit-down meal, so you may not need to make formal seating arrangements. However, dress up the table to create a conveniently attractive space for all the cookies. Opt for a long table or several smaller ones with enough space to display the cookies. Consider using coordinating white dishes to show off the treats and create a cohesive look. Where possible, tap into mismatched holiday serving platters and cake stands to create a cozy, vintage atmosphere. Remember to create enough space around the table so people can easily access the cookie buffet.
The day before
Decorate the room
Fun decorations can inject more fun into your party. You can opt for light candles to create an intimate space or brighten up the space with fresh flowers. Don’t forget to spruce up your cookie table with a festive tablecloth and a centerpiece.
The day of the party
Set out food and drinks
Since cookies are the focus of the party, you don’t have to fret a lot about the extras. Have a choice of appetizers and cocktail drinks ready as your guests arrive. Alternatively, opt for coffee and a few finger foods for snacking.
Welcome the guests for coming
Welcome guests and thank them for coming. Have pens and index cards at hand to allow guests to ID their cookies easily. Go around the room and give each attendee a chance to name their cookies, reveal the recipe, and explain why it is their favorite. Since you will likely have a room of excited cookie lovers, it may be a good idea to direct the cookie exchange program.
After the party
Provide pretty packaging
You can add a seasonal touch to your event by providing pretty packaging to send your guests home with. Attractive paper sleeves, holiday treat bags, and inexpensive tins, ribbons, or bows are more cheerful alternatives to the boring Tupperware containers and plastic zipper bags we are used to.
The tips we have shared above are a great place to start when looking to host a fun, stress-free, and memorable cookie swap party. Remember, it’s not just about the cookies but also the laughter, shared experiences, and genuine connections that can be fostered through this delightful tradition.