To begin, I could find the first mention of a cookie swap in 1954. I dug through Genealogy Bank for a good while until I came up with that article. By the papers in the 1960s to present they are mentioned all over the place from sea to twinkling sea. I am not surprised. Who doesn’t love a good cookie swap?
At first, I thought it was a simple concept and I have been to plenty. Again, by beginning my newspaper search, I fell down a reindeer forest of information on baking and cookie swaps. So like any good, cheerful librarian, here are some tips and tricks to organize your own unique holiday cookie swap.
The Basics of a Cookie Swap
If you have not experienced a swap yet, here is the low down. The concept of the cookie swap is to share your favorite and best recipes for holiday cookies with friends. All while enjoying the sweet treats. The point is for each guest to leave with a selection of each cookie and a way to make it.
The number one rule is to bring home baked cookies. One group in South Carolina, has had a cookie swap for over 20 years. They have developed their own manual for participants. I am not saying get that intense, but I would have a plan like one of these.
Cookie Swapping 3 Ways
- This is the most common type of party I have attended. Simply come up with a reasonable number and keep strict to a guest list. Each participant will bring their own fresh baked cookies in bag for each guest. So if there are 13 guests, they would bring 12 bags for each guest.
- The other concept is similar except bringing the cookies in trays. Then the guests can use a cute container to collect the cookies out on display as well as sample some.
- Pick a common ingredient or 2 for everyone to make their cookies with. Examples are chocolate chips, peppermints, gingerbread, and holiday themed ingredients.
Make Your Party Unique
Here are some special touches I found in my research. These little tips can set your swap apart from others.
- Have a signature drink or cocktail. There are countless recipes on Pinterest. I have a particular affinity for hot chocolate with a scoop of ice cream in it. Of course, don’t forget the milk!
- Use what you have to create a cute tablescape. Think of the creative patterns you can make with scrapbook paper and even napkins.
- Set up a cookie decorating station to entertain guests and/or their little ones. Include multiple colors of frosting along with some sugar cookies with Christmas cutouts like wreaths.
- Provide cute recipe cards for guests to write their cookie recipe on before or during the party.
- Have some games and door prizes. They can be simple things collected during after Christmas sales the previous year. (Like cute wine toppers for example.) I found some cute examples of holiday trivia, reindeer antler making games and others on Cookie Exchange (dot) com.
- After it is all said and done, donate extra cookies to a good cause. Look into local elderly homes, VA groups, or even shelters. You could even share them with the poor UPS or Amazon workers coming to drop off packages during their long work days.
Baking at its Best
If you haven’t been able to release your inner Sandra Lee or Barefoot Contessa yet. Here are some tips to get you started. Firstly, baking is an exact science. Use measuring utensils and cups for everything. It is helpful to get the best ingredients you can afford. (Especially when it comes to chocolate.) Guessing amounts can lead to disaster.
I prefer to use air pans over the rimmed baking sheets. They create softer cookies and a more even bake. It is also preferable to use a cooling rack to fully cool your cookies after baking. Otherwise, they will continue to bake on the hot pan.
The biggest lesson I have learned in baking is dealing with cookies with chunky ingredients inside. If you have cookies you are baking with candy inside for example. It is imperative to chill the dough thoroughly before baking. If you don’t, your cookies will look like the melted wicked witch at the end of the Wizard of Oz.
How the Cookie Swap Crumbles
When planning, keep in mind that it is a busy time of year for you and your guests. Think of ways to create an enjoyable experience without spending too much time or money. Maybe focus on one cute table and rely on your Christmas tree as the backdrop for photos. Avoid a gift swap in lieu of a quick game with a cute prize.
But most importantly, have fun and enjoy the sweeter side of the holiday!
What are your best cookie swap tips and tricks?
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