Holidays can be a hectic time. Between the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, and spreading holiday cheer, who doesn’t deserve a cookie break? But with everything going on, spending hours in the kitchen cooking batch after batch of all your favorite holiday cookies just sounds exhausting. If you’d rather spend your time decking the halls and spending time with family and friends, why not host a holiday cookie swap? There’s no better way to taste test a variety of homemade cookies, and the laid back party vibe will make it the most relaxing event you attend all season.
What is a cookie swap?
Also known as a cookie exchange, a cookie swap is just what it sounds like. Everyone that attends brings a box of their favorite/best cookies, along with the recipe. At the end of the party, everyone leaves with a sampling of all the cookies. You can keep it simple with festive holiday plates for everyone to bring their new treats home on, or you can get a little extravagant, and provide boxes for guest to fill and decorate.
4 Steps to Hosting Your Very Own Cookie Swap
Send out invites
Much like your holiday decor, this can be as simple or as over the top as you’d like it to be. Mail a cute little card to your guest, or send an invite on Facebook–how ever you choose to reach out, be sure to connect with your guest list at least 4 weeks in advance to be sure they rope off some time for you. Aim for a guest list of about 7-10 people. Ask each guest to bring at least 6 dozen cookies (or as many as a dozen for every person attending) – this way everyone will leave with a tasty assortment to enjoy after the party. It’s a good idea to suggest an extra dozen for sampling, but not required.
Start baking at least three days before the party
Depending on how many cookies you need to make, start baking in advance. You don’t want to be stuck baking the morning of the party (you’ll have plenty of other things to do that day), so be sure to give yourself some time in the days leading up to the party to make, bake, and decorate your cookies. Don’t forget about other snacks and drinks for the party as well. While you’re out shopping for your cookie ingredients, be sure to pick up coffee and tea, milk, and even some cheese and fruits. While cookies are the star of the party, small appetizers or snack foods can help balance out the sugary sweetness.
Set up a packaging and display station
One of the best parts of cookie swaps is sampling delicious cookies and then packing up a pretty box to take home and enjoy later. Depending on space, try to keep the display of cookies as close to the packaging your guests will be using to take home their delicious assortment of cookies. Martha Stewart suggests “stocking the station with tags or sticky labels, ribbons, twine, cardboard boxes, sturdy paper plates, baking papers, scissors, hole punches, tissue paper, cellophane, and other trimmings.” Feel free to keep the packaging as simple or as frilly as you’d like–but don’t be afraid to have fun here! Who doesn’t love a pretty box filled with sweet treats?
Enjoy the party
When you’re the host, it’s easy to get caught up in the planning and perfection of it all. But at the end of the day, remember, holidays are about spending time with people you care about, sharing laughter and making memories. As the host of a cookie swap, don’t worry about making it perfect. Instead, focus on making it fun and full of laughter. Play some party games, enjoy some cookies, and at the end of the day, be grateful for time spent with wonderful people
Not sure what cookies to make for your cookie swap? Why not try these jam filled butter cookies made using jams from The Vermont Country Store?
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Tart Jam(s) like Orange, Lemon, or Christmas Jam
- Garnish: confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Melt butter and, when cooled to room temperature, add it slowly to the egg-sugar mixture with the vanilla, mixing constantly. (Be sure your butter has cooled or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!)
- Whisk together flour and baking powder, and slowly fold it into the egg mixture to create a firm dough.
- Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick on parchment-lined baking pans and cut with a round cutter.
- Cut out a hole in the center of half of the cookies and remove scraps.
- Bake about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
- Re-roll scraps and repeat.
- Sprinkle the cookies with holes with confectioner’s sugar. Spread cookies without holes with jam of choice. Press together jam-filled cookie with holed-cookies to form a sandwich.
- Serve and enjoy!