The only thing better than holiday cookies? Not having to bake them all yourself. We're sharing tips on how to make your swap sweet, not stressful
by Jan Scott
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Holiday cookie swaps are an excellent option for easy entertaining during December when the calendar tends to become chok-a-block full with commitments and other celebratory parties. Pencil one in for an afternoon, invite your favourite females over for hot chocolate and a snack, and swap your homemade goods, allowing you to bake only once during the hectic holiday season.
If you’re planning this type of event for December, here are a few guidelines to help make your holiday cookie swap one that’s sweet and not too stressful:
1. The basic rules:
- Invitations should be sent out 2-4 weeks before the date of the exchange. In other words, send them to inboxes now. Bypass proper papers invites and create an Evite or Facebook group for the event.
- When guests RSVP ask them to indicate which type of cookie they would like to bring. This will allow invitees to avoid making duplicate flavours, and will also serve as a guide for how many dozens of cookies you’ll be required to bake.
- The general rule of thumb is that guests bring one dozen cookies per invited guest, plus an extra dozen for sampling.
- For non-bakers, let them know that bakery cookies are a suitable replacement for the homemade variety, but package supermarket sweets should be left at home.
- If you’re expecting a larger group (15 or more) ask guests to bring a maximum of 12 dozen total. Place cookies on platters and instruct guests to take only as many as they brought (for example, if someone brought 10 dozen cookies they leave with 10 dozen total).
- Remind guests to bring copies of their recipe for sharing after the swap.
2. About the cookies:
- Choose a favourite family recipe (this isn’t the time to try a new recipe in case it doesn’t work out) and bake up several batches.
- Ensure cookies can travel and freeze well; the date of your swap may be a few weeks ahead of the holidays and they will need to be stored properly until they can be eaten.
- Sturdy, non-gooey cookies work best.
- When packaging them for the swap, place them in a large container separated by sheets of parchment, aluminum foil or wax paper.
3. Hosting the swap:
- This is one of the easiest gatherings to host because the guests provide most of the food.
- Offer something savoury since the sweets are taken care of. A simple cheese board with olives is a nice touch. Less is more here, so don’t feel compelled to feed your friends a large feast.
- Take care of the beverages, but keep things basic. Hot chocolate is nice for an afternoon event, or a bottle or wine and sparkling water for an evening swap.
- For a little extra fun consider offering a door prize. A new baking cookbook works well for this. Simply draw a name for the prize, or ask guests to vote for the crowd favourite cookie and award the prize to the winner. Another fun activity for a cookie swap is to ask guests to come in the ugliest Christmas sweater they can find. Ask guests to determine who’s was the worst and pass along the party prize to them.
4. Taste, swap and share the sweets
- Use the extra dozen cookies brought by each guest to assemble a few sampling platters.
- Share recipes. Pass out copies of the recipes to each guest, ensuring they can make some of their favourites from the swap at home.
Have you ever hosted a cookie swap? Would you?