How to Host a Cookie Exchange

Recipe By Tessa Arias
November 9th, 2016

How to Host a Cookie Exchange party for the holidays that everyone will adore! From planning and invitations to recipes and decorations, there’s even FREE party printables below!

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party, with a FREE set of party printables!

Hosting a Christmas cookie exchange party is the perfect fun way to get a group of girlfriends together during the busy holiday season. It’s more low key than the other holiday parties on your calendar, and you don’t have to worry about finding the perfect gift or holiday dress. Plus it’s a great excuse to get baking and sample festive cookies. It’s the perfect kind of party in my mind!

How to Host a Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!

I’ve included tons of tips, advice, and inspiration in this post for you to host your own cookie swap. If you do host one, be sure to take some photos and tag me in them! Use #handletheheat on Instagram, or upload them to the Holiday Baking Bonanza Facebook community.

How to Host a Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!

Free Party Printables

If you want to download the recipe title signs, invitations, and favor tags to use for your own cookie exchange party then just click here. The full party printable kit with the additional banner, recipe cards, decorative signs, taste testing cards, and more is part of your purchase of Tessa’s Christmas Cookies.

Planning & Invitations

• How many people do you want to invite? How much room do you have? Who would be interested?

• Set a date & send invitations far enough in advance. This is a busy season so you want to be sure your friends and family can make it!

• How many cookies should each guest bring? Remember, the party is about tasting and sampling the cookies but also about each guest bringing some home to enjoy with the rest of their family later. 2 dozen per guest is a good minimum so everyone has a few to bring home. 6 dozen is a good maximum if everyone wants lots of cookies to take home.

• Ask ahead for any allergies among your guests so you can make accommodations. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 to see my experiments baking gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and egg-free cookies!

• Rules? Do you want to ask everyone to make something from scratch, instead of using a mix or buying from a bakery? Dress code? Is Christmas attire encouraged? Don’t leave your guests confused and wondering!

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!

Recipes & Baking

• I have tons of cookie recipes in my library here.

• The BEST place to get my all-time favorite cookie recipes is inside my eBook, Tessa’s Christmas Cookies.

• For directions on how to make cookies (and tons of other recipes) ahead of time, check out my free Make Ahead Baking Guide here.

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!


• Download my pack of three FREE Cookie Exchange printables to use during your party HERE. The full kit comes with Tessa’s Christmas Cookies.

• I love to buy festive decorations at Hobby Lobby when they’re 40% off, or at Michael’s when they’re on sale or offering coupons. Garland, lights, and figurines should do the trick! That adorable glittery “Bakery” gingerbread house below is from Hobby Lobby, I’m obsessed with it!

• Use the labels in my free kit or make your own so that everyone knows which cookie is which. If you’re adding a competition / taste test element to the mix, then be sure to write the name of who made the cookies as well.

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!


• Don’t forget about drinks! Cold milk, eggnog, hot cocoa, coffee, and tea are all great ideas. Maybe even wine or spiked eggnog, if it’s that kind of group!

• You might consider offering a few savory appetizers and a vegetable platter to keep things balanced.

• Make a festive and fun Spotify or iTunes playlist to keep energy up!

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!


• Many cookie exchanges have a taste test competition wrapped in! Give your guests taste test ballots (those are in the full party kit) so they can select their favorite cookies according to judging categories.

• Consider offering fun prizes for the best cookies: cookbooks, cookie jar, baking equipment, oven mitts, an apron, etc.


• Really capture the reason for the season and ask guests to bring gently used winter clothes or non-perishable food items to donate to a shelter or food bank.

Packaging & Favors

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!

• You can ask your guests to bring their own take away containers, or you can supply them yourself.

• Set up a packing and favor station so guests can box up their favorite cookies. Encourage people to bring print outs of the recipe they baked, or write them out on recipe cards for anyone who wants to recreate them at home.

• Party favors are always appreciated! I love to tie together a festive cookie cutter and spatula with a sweet note. You can find these cheaply at Target, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Home Goods, etc.

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange with FREE PRINTABLES included!

I hope this becomes an annual tradition with your group of friends! Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever hosted a cookie exchange, and what your tips are!

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    Teresa Bates — November 9, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    An optional idea: a cookie baking/ exchange party. I attended one with kids involved. The hostess supplied basic ingredients: butter flour, sugar, eggs. Guests brought cookie sheets, a favorite recipe & any special ingredients. It was a lot of fun & guests took home a variety of fresh baked cookies.

    • #
      Tessa — November 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Sounds like so much fun! I wish my kitchen / house was big enough for something like that. And oh how I dream of a double oven 😉

  2. #
    zuwaina — November 10, 2016 at 3:27 am

    very nice dear

  3. #
    paula Roach — November 28, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    How do you divide up the cookies amongst the guests?

    • #
      Tessa — November 29, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      I usually let guests pick up a box and select the cookies they want to bring home, whichever were their favorites! If you have everyone bring enough, there shouldn’t be any problems with guests fighting over who gets what 😉

  4. #
    Angie Lyngso — November 30, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Tessa!

    I love your set up for the cookie exchange party and am trying to download your free printable for an exchange I am hosting next week. I have put in my email twice and haven’t received any confirmation yet. Any help you could give me would be much appreciated!


    • #
      Tessa — December 1, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Hi Angie, from my end I can see the confirmation email was delivered, but not opened. It probably got lost in spam or the promotions tab, so I’d definitely check there!

  5. #
    Angie — December 1, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks! Still no email on my end in any folder but I’ll keep checking.

  6. #
    Jewel — January 7, 2017 at 6:13 am

    I love everything in your blog Tessa! More power!

  7. #
    Billie Jo — July 24, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I have hosted a cookie swap party for the last 3 yrs. I’ve had up to 20 people and as few as 9 or 10. My guests usually pack up 6 cookies per pkg with one pkg per guests. Then we have extras for sampling.

    It is a fun Mom’s Night Out. Most of us have kids that are of similar age. I usually make some finger food apps and homemade sangria. Friends bring wine or other hoodies to share.

    I found holiday themed bags that the guests bring each year. They put one pkg if cookies in each themed bag and take it home at the end if the night. Then they have an assortment of cookies for their family or to bring to other holiday gatherings.

  8. #
    Katie — October 30, 2017 at 8:58 am

    When is the best time to have a Christmas cookie exchange? Earlier in the month of December so it’s not crunch time or a few days before Christmas so things are still “fresh” and not requiring freezing to save until Christmas? Or do people just eat cookies all throughout the month? 😛

  9. #
    kristy — November 27, 2017 at 9:31 am

    These are so cute. I have received the conformation email and the free hosting a party download, but not one that contains the printable items.

  10. #
    kristy — November 27, 2017 at 11:39 am

    never mind. just received the email. thank you.

  11. #
    Janet — December 1, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    My party is this coming Sunday (Dec. 3) – I do mine as more of a “cookie sampling and recipe exchange.” I have guests bring 3 dozen cookies plus 12 copies of their recipes. (I will up these numbers if my number of guests goes beyond 12.) We sample all the cookies, play a few fun little games, give away some prizes, and then everyone takes home a packet of all the recipes PLUS we go around the table each with a container and take home the rest of the cookies. I’ve hosted this party twice, both times in early December – early enough so guests still have time to bake their favorite recipes in time for Christmas!

  12. #
    Alexis — December 1, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    I love everything about this post. I am hosting a cookie exchange and this post inspired it! I googled cookie exchange and this was the first website that came up. So thank you for the inspiration! I want to copy your crate idea. What size crate is that and where did you purchase? Thank you!

  13. # — January 19, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    Great іnformation. Lucky mе Ӏ found ʏоur site by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve bookmarked it fߋr later!

  14. #
    Scarlet — October 15, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Cookie exchanges are my absolute favorite Christmas tradition, well, one of them anyway! Thanks for all the tips on how to host one. I just may be brave and go for it this year!

  15. #
    Candace — November 11, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    hi there! I was wondering how you assigned types of cookies to each person attending the cookie exchange. In the past, did post a sign up board in your invitation or just assigned type of cookie to each guest?

  16. #
    L.E. Motts — November 26, 2019 at 7:52 am

    I signed up, but never received anything in my email…I would love some help planning my cookie exchange.

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