Holiday cookie exchanges are a festive tradition among families, neighbours and even co-workers. For holiday cookie swap hosts (and eager guests), a successful, stress-free swap is all about organizing and planning. So whether you’ll be welcoming others or attending a cookie-themed shindig, our delicious tips will ensure every event is a sweet success.
Be sure to RSVP on time. If not specified, ask your host about allergies (or let them know if you have allergies that need to be accommodated).
Bulk Baking Basics
Map out a timeline. Can the cookies be made and stored in advance, or are they better baked the day of? Budget for time to let the cookies cool, so they are easier to transport and won’t steam and get soggy in packaging. And last but not least, bring recipe cards to share with your fellow cookie connoisseurs.
Not sure what sweet treat to bring to your next holiday cookie exchange? Try one of our easy-to-bake cookie recipes – here are some of our favourites:
- Mint Chocolate Shortbread Cookies – These melt-in-your mouth shortbread cookies are rolled into balls for baking. No cookie cutter required.
- Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs – For cookies cut into festive shapes, try these crisp, fragrant beauties.
- Candy Cane Cookie Twists – Make just one dough and tint a portion of it. Shape into candy cane cookies.
- No-Bake Mini Rum Balls – No need for an oven when making these treats from pecans and vanilla wafers.
- Chocolate Nut Cluster Brookies – Rich and moist, these are like brownies and chocolate chip cookies in one.
- Lemon Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies – The addition of cornmeal gives these chewy drop cookies a toothsome bite.
- Hazelnut Meringue Cookies – These simple cookies require only four ingredients to showcase the flavour of toasted hazelnuts beautifully.
- Chai Chocolate Almond Biscotti – Studded with almonds and spiced with cardamom and ginger, these crunchy Italian biscuits are made for dipping into hot drinks.
- Sugar Cookies – Rolled out and cut into fun shapes, these cookies will have everyone showing off their decorating skills!
- Coconut, Cranberry and Pistachio Slice Cookies – Rolled in flaked coconut, these slice cookies can be made in advance and baked as needed. Their festive add-ins also make for pretty presentation.
- Salted Caramel and Cashew Cookies – Rolled and cut into thin bars, these golden cookies offer a delectable flavour combination.
- Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies with Jam – A decadent dollop of jam finishes these tender hazelnut-covered cookies. Use a variety of jams to get an impressive jewel-toned look.
- Chocolate-Mint Cookies – Adding mint extract to the icing on these cookies keeps the flavour bright. Create a whole new flavour by using your favourite extract, like orange or almond.
- Mocha Linzer Cookies with Wild Jumbleberry Jam – The only thing better than a cookie is two cookies sandwiched together with a jam filling.
- Ginger Snaps – Crisp with a hint of spice, it’s no surprise that this cookie is a holiday favourite.
Handle With Care
Many holiday favourites are delicate, so to ensure your bars and cookies arrive in one piece, consider these handy packing tips.
- Line cookie tins with bubble wrap and cover with parchment before placing cookies inside. Or try plain popped popcorn as an eco-friendly cookie cushion.
- If stacking multiple varieties of cookies, place heavier cookies on the bottom of the pile and fragile cookies on the top layer.
- Plastic wrap or foil can be used to bundle small stacks of cookies together. A snug wrapping job will keep cookies from moving around and falling apart.
Every good party starts with a spark of inspiration; after that, a little planning and prep go a long way to achieving its full potential.
Send out a short but sweet invitation by snail mail or e-mail in advance so you know how many people to expect. Be sure invitations are clear; guests need to know how many cookies to bring, if there are allergy restrictions and when to RSVP. Invite guests to bring an extra batch of cookies (that they won’t be swapping) to share at the party.
Before the swap, prepare enough clutter-free surfaces to make room for cookies and recipe cards. As guests arrive, set cookies out on display and clearly label them, especially if they are gluten- or nut-free. Remember to stock up on tins or other reusable containers so guests can easily take their goodies home.
Join in All the Cookie Games!
Set up a cookie decorating station where guests can get creative. This is especially fun if there are kids attending the party. As the host, bake (or ask one of your guests to bring) a batch of plain cookies – Ginger Snaps or classic sugar cookies are great options – and set aside for decorating. Alternatively, challenge guests to a “guess the cookie” blind taste test competition or invite them to vote for their favourites in a cookie swap contest. Have fun with the competition categories and cover all bases from the prettiest and the tastiest cookies to the most decadent.
The More Treats, The Merrier
Open to cookie alternatives? Let guests know in advance so they can plan their contribution accordingly. Suggest one of our mouthwatering, easy-to-bake square or bar recipes.
- Candy Cane Brownies
- Tiramisu Fudge
- Lemon Squares
- Pine Nut Brittle
- Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bark
- Chocolate Truffles
Toast to the Host
Make merry with drinks that are quick to make and easy to serve, like our Clementine-Ginger Punch or Cranberry Sangria, both can be made the night before and stashed in the fridge. Prepare big batches of Orange-Spice Mulled Apple Cider or Gingerbread Almond Latte – store in a slow cooker to keep warm and invite guests to help themselves. Add variety and serve your custom brew along with milk, coffee, tea and Coconut-Rum Eggnog.
Party Time Snacks & Music
Before guests arrive, create festive ambience with a seasonal music playlist, and set out snacks and drinks to keep guests satisfied as they mix and mingle.
Guests may arrive hungry and looking to snack, so you’ll want to have more than just cookies to eat. Have a small spread of appetizers available to give guests savoury alternatives to all those sweets. Our Sensations by Compliments Appetizers offer a wide variety of hors d’oeuvres that are quick and easy to make; simply heat and serve! Also pick up prepared fruit and vegetable trays to round out the selection – they’re a convenient option for those short on time.
For hosts who do have a little extra time on their hands, pair store-bought treats with homemade appetizers like our savoury-sweet Crostini with Brie, Pear and Hazelnuts or sharp Blue Cheese & Prosciutto Palmiers. Guests gathered around the table will enjoy dunking Crunchy Pita Chips in rich Almond & Olive Hummus, while others will relish Marinated Roasted Red Peppers & Goat Cheese on Baguette.