Around the holidays, I start feeling extra-thankful for the people in my life. I also start to realize I haven’t seen them in awhile, and that it might be difficult to schedule time together with the million of events that take place in November and December. My solution? Host an easy cookie exchange party that is no stress, no fuss and allows me to reconnect! The added bonus is obviously the cookies!
Step One: Pick a Date
This might be one of the trickiest steps. If your friends and family are anything like mine, they have packed social and family schedules and it’s nearly impossible to round them all up at one time.
I like hosting my cookie exchange party the first Sunday of December. I’ve found that the Christmas activities are just starting to ramp up, everyone has recovered from Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and baking is on the mind!
I usually plan the party for 1-4pm. This allows anyone with kids, that goes to church or has Sunday chores the opportunity to stick to their normal Sunday schedule. It also removes the expectation that a meal will be provided, making preparation easier and cheaper!
I typically limit my cookie exchange party to ladies only, but it could easily be a couple or family-friendly event.
Step Two: Make High Level Plans
You might be wondering why inviting your guests isn’t number two on the list, but it’s because you need to determine the high level details of the party. I’ve found that parties that have a themed activity help guests that might not know each other to find easy topics of discussion.
My favorite activity at a cookie exchange party is voting for cookies in a variety of categories. I like to judge cookies in three categories that gives everyone an equal chance to win a title (and prize):
- Tastiest Cookie
- Prettiest Cookie
- Most Creative Cookie
Even a basic sugar cookie could be voted the tastiest or prettiest, and a cookie that totally bombs but looks cool could win prettiest or most creative. See what I mean?
An alternative idea is to make some simple sugar cookies and allow guests to decorate them during the party. You can then award prizes based on different categories of the cookies decorated during the party.
Looking for cookie recipes? Check out the end of the post for some ideas!
Step Three: Send Invites
Now that you have a theme for your cookie party, it’s time to send out those invites! I try to aim for early November, while sending a few reminder messages in between.
I prefer sending the invites via Facebook because it’s free, easy to track your attendees and allows your guests to see who else might be coming, but paper invites or text message invites would be appropriate too.
In the invite, make sure you include the following:
- Date and Time
- Voting Categories and Time of Vote
- The Number of Cookies to Bring
I encourage guests to bring three dozen cookies. This allows for two dozen cookies to be exchanged, with another dozen available for sampling during the party. If you’re having a large party, you might need to adjust these numbers.
I also encourage guests to bring display dishes for their cookies. It’s neat to see all the different styles of display dishes and cookies that will come in your door!
Finally, I also include the time of the cookie voting. It sets expectations and lets the guest determine if they will participate or not. I encourage guests to come anytime during the party, and I definitely have some busy bees that stop by for 30 min for a cookie and a hug and jet to their next commitment.
Step Four: Shop for Party Supplies
This is one of my favorite steps!
I start with food and beverages to be available during the party. Although I’m not providing a meal, I do like to have some nibbles for people to snack on. Most people really enjoy crackers, cheese, veggies and a dip. These snacks are simple, delicious and suit most people’s needs. Don’t forget to pick up ingredients to make your cookies!
I also like to have a few beverage options available. I stick to water with lemon, iced tea, a light wine spritzer or hot tea if it’s really cold out. Hot cider, either spiked or not, will probably be on this year’s menu. The hot drinks do well in a small crock pot, while the cold drinks look pretty displayed in inexpensive carafes. Having a variety of available beverages reduces the amount of times you will need to refresh the beverages during the party.
Next, pick up items for the voting. You’ll need the following:
- A Basket to Collect Entries
For the prizes, I go to the dollar store and pick up cute, functional items like mugs, spatulas and whisks. You could also throw in other items like hand soap, gift cards or ornaments, but I found most people were tickled with even simple prizes. This year, I’m thinking about repurposing my DIY Sparkle Ring Dish tutorial to make cookie-cutter shaped ornaments that announce the award that was won.
I also like to pick up cookie boxes for people to put cookies in to take home. I’ve found boxes at places like Wal-Mart, Michaels and the Christmas Tree Store. I try to find them at the end of the season and purchase them at discounted rates!
The first year I hosted the party, I also stumbled across some deeply discounted Christmas cookie cutters! I tied a pretty bow on each with a printed “Thank You” and sent them home as parting gifts.
Step Five: Enjoy Your Party!
Download the free Cookie Exchange Voting Tags
Download the free Cookie Exchange Name Tags
Have each guest display their cookies on a table or counter. I like to provide them with small tags to label their cookies. Once it’s time for voting, pass out the voting slips and allow each guest to sample as many cookies as they wish. When voting is complete, announce and award winners.
Finish by handing out the boxes and allowing everyone to take up to two dozen cookies. I was worried people would stock up on one type of cookie while not taking others, but it’s never been a problem. Everyone really likes taking the cookies home and I hear about how delicious the cookies are for weeks to come!
As the host, I typically end up with a TON of extra cookies. I’m not great at baking, so this is pretty wonderful.
Don’t forget to take a few photos. I’m notoriously bad at this, so I don’t have any photos of previous parties to share.
If there are cookies that were crowd favorites, I ask for the recipe and send it out after the party. This is a great way to say thank you to all of your attendees!
Not sure what kind of goodies to make? Check out the recipes below for inspiration!
Christmas Tree Spritz Cookies from TheHouseThatNeverSlumbers.com
Sugar Plum Fairy Fudge from Clementine County