Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party

cookie mix
Sample and share Christmas cookies of all kinds as you mingle with friends at your festive cookie exchange party. Beyond cookie exchange recipes, we have tips on party food, games, drinks, cookie decorating, and more!

Party Prep: Box 'Em Up

Stir up your favorite Santa-worthy recipes and invite friends, coworkers, and family members to do the same. All finished cookies deserve a cute container! Be sure to have festive boxes, tins, and ribbons on hand so guests can package up their cookies in style. From simple glassware and muffin trays to festive boxes and foil tins, there's something for everyone. 

Party Prep: Festive Invites

Be sure to send your cookie exchange invitations several weeks in advance, so your guests can add the cookie swap to their busy holiday calendars. On the invitations, be sure to include how many cookies to bring -- enough for every guest to have a couple at the party and one or two to take home. Fun idea: ask your guests to type up their cookie exchange recipes and print out copies for everyone. That way, everyone leaves the cookie exchange party ready for next year's Christmas cookies! 

Party Prep: Come Prepared

Ask each attendee to bring enough cookies to make sure everyone has several cookies to tote home. If the cookies they bake require decoration, notify your guests to bring them plain and unfrosted. You can save some of the decorating fun for the party! 

Party Prep: Pretty Presentation

Instead of purchasing a pricey set of seasonal dinnerware for your holiday cookie exchange party, mix and match plates and dishes you already own for an affordable (and adorable) way to display your cookies. An assortment of different sizes, styles, and colors are all welcome, as long as they're festive! We recommend sticking with some sort of motif, such as red and white, to create a cohesive Christmas look.

Party Drink: Bottled Wine

'Tis the season for toasting! Pop open a bottle of wine to share with guests. Offer variations of red, white, and champagne. 

Editor's Tip: Before the party starts, add Christmas cheer to each bottle by decorating them with wrapping paper, ribbons, and seasonal tags. If you have any leftover bottles, you can send them home with guests as cookie exchange party favors. 

Party Drink: Hot Cocoa

What goes better with Christmas cookies than cocoa? Encourage your guests to cozy on up with a steamy mug of cocoa as they taste test each cookie exchange recipe. 

Editor's Tip: If you're serving more than one kind of cocoa and don't have enough portable coffeepots, ask to borrow one from a friend.

Party Snack: Rosemary Roasted Nuts

There will be plenty of sugary snacks at the party, so savory nuts are a crucial change of pace. Fresh rosemary gives this party necessity a hint of holiday zest. Serve the roasted nuts in various-size bowls, then set them out by the drinks, Christmas cookies, and near other areas of conversation.

Party Snack: Caramel Popcorn

While we love stringing popcorn, it's even more enjoyable to eat. Set out bowls and tins of the super sweet treat made with plain popped popcorn, homemade caramel, and salted mixed nuts.

Cookie Decorating: Easy Cookie Cutting Tips

Another fun cookie exchange party tradition is to bake some of the cookies at the party. If you don't have enough cookie cutters for everyone, precut stencils are easily traceable. If you prefer, prepare one big, showstopping tree cookie and let guests put on the finishing touches. Be sure to set out frostings, candies, and other ingredients they can use to decorate.

Cookie Decorating: Ombre Frosting

If you're making your cookies ahead of time, use your cookie exchange party to let everyone help decorate. To begin, whip up a batch of creamy frosting, then divide into bowls to create three or more shades of one hue. Use sealable plastic bags and spoon in the frosting, snip a small corner of each baggie, and get creative.

Cookie Decorating: Swirled Frosting

Take unfrosted holiday cookies from plain to pretty in a few easy steps. To achieve this swirled look, first frost the cookie with white icing. Before it dries, use a spoon or knife to drizzle the green icing on top. Swirl a clean toothpick through the white and green icing to create a swirled frosting effect.

Cookie Decorating: Sugar-Rolled Cookies

These easy Christmas cookies are perfect for an exchange. Turn plain-Jane cookies into adorably dressed treats in three easy steps. First, roll the dough into a cylinder, then roll the cookie dough in colorful sugar as shown. Slice the roll into cookie-size pieces and bake for a sweet and simple Christmas cookie.

Party Activity: Best Christmas Cookie Contest

You know what this party needs? A cookie exchange game! After attendees sample each cookie, let them vote for their favorites. Dress up a simple bulletin board with festive fabric and pinned-on envelopes for an easy voting station, and offer a holiday-theme prize for the winning baker. 

Party Activity: Gingerbread Houses

A DIY gingerbread house contest is one of our favorite cookie exchange games. To make things simple, buy gingerbread pieces at your local crafts or grocery store instead of baking a batch of gingerbread cookies, then organize all the candy decorations in small bowls.

Party Favor: Ribbon-Wrapped Peppermints

Wrap peppermint sticks in ribbons and bows, then send them along with guests for a minty fresh cookie exchange party favor. Look for candy canes or peppermint sticks in the candy aisle of your local grocery store.

Party Favor: DIY Cookie Mix

The best Christmas cookie exchange party favors are edible gifts. For an oh-so-sweet holiday hostess food gift, layer the ingredients of your favorite Christmas cookie in a quart jar and fasten the lid, using a festive ribbon for decoration. Include the recipe and simple baking instructions on a card.

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