Invite eight to twelve people for the best variety of cookies and conversation. Send invitations a few weeks ahead of the party so everyone can fit the gathering into their schedule, or email the invitations about a week ahead.
Tell each guest to bake one dozen cookies for each person invited plus another dozen for sampling during the party. That way each person can take home a full dozen of each type of cookie.
Avoid duplication by asking guests to RSVP and tell you about the cookies they will bring. Ask your friends to think about choosing a family favorite or recipe traditional to their background. This is a great way to learn about the traditions and recipes of other cultures and ethnic groups.
Specify a start and end time for your party. Everyone is busy at this time of year. You can even have a lunch hour cookie exchange at work.
Make sure each guest brings copies of their recipe to pass around. Since many people have food allergies, it's important they know the ingredients in the cookies at your party. And if there are family stories and especially ethnic traditions for a cookie, ask the guest to write that information on the recipe.
Think about food safety. If a recipe says refrigerate after baking, don't include that cookie in your party. Refrigerated foods can only stay at room temperature for two hours. After that time you run the risk of food poisoning.
Most cookies can be frozen with no loss of quality. Store them in plastic freezer containers in single layers, divided with waxed paper or parchment paper, tightly covered. Thaw soft cookies wrapped at room temperature. Thaw crisp cookies unwrapped at room temperature.
Remind guests to bring a large container to take their cookie assortment home. Have extra containers and packing materials like foil, plastic wrap, and tape on hand for guests who may forget.
Beverages are important for this party, because sweets make everyone thirsty! Have sparkling water, coffee, cider, hot chocolate, juices, or pop on hand. Provide tiny plates and napkins too.
Set a beautiful table and arrange all the cookies as the guests arrive. Spend some time admiring the huge selection before collecting your cookies. Be sure to take pictures of all the cookies and your guests having a wonderful time. And have a great party!
Alert! The About.com Food Channel is having a virtual cookie exchange! Every weekday until Christmas a different cookie will be featured on all blogs. Remember to check back every day for a new favorite cookie recipe!
Holiday Cookie Exchange Recipes
- Grandma Matha's Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate Buttersweets
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons
- Peanut Sitting-Pretties Thumbprint Cookies
- Oatmeal Carmelitas
- Mexican Tea Cakes
- Treasure Chest Bars
- Spritz Cookies
- Crisp Chocolate Caramel Bars
- Chocolate Dainties
- Easy But Fancy Cookies
- Roll Out Butter Cookies
- Starlight Mint Cookies
- Sugar Crusted Melting Cookies
- Best Brownies
- Butter Pecan Turtle Bars
- Peanut Blossoms
- Caramel Crisp Marshmallows
- Salted Peanut Bars
- Meringue Mushrooms
- Cashew Truffles