Host a cookie swap

I love swapping (as you’ve probably noticed here, here and here). 

Single-themed swaps (cookies, soups, kitchen equipment) are swap events with which you’re undoubtedly already quite familiar. Looking around at the existing resources for prospective cookie swap hosts, I’ve found the suggestions a bit over the top (or highly impractical), which means most people probably aren’t running to their laptops to invite their friends over to trade sweet treats.

In honor of my event today at Crate & Barrel, I’m spreading the word on hosting your cookie swap. (Austinites, c’mon out and see me today at the Gateway store between 12-5pm.)

gluten-free sugar cookies

I think the holidays bring out the best in people, namely cookies. Don’t let the buzz surrounding a cookie exchange party prevent you from trying it out. You don’t need any special equipment beyond some napkins and a cleared-off kitchen counter/table/coffee table.

Here are a few ways to make cookie swapping your own (and more manageable):

  • Team cookie! Find a friend to co-host the party with you. Two brains, two sets of arms, two people on top of the small tasks are much, much better than one.
  • Bring it: Ask folks to bring 2 dozen cookies and possibly a bottle of wine. Any more cookies than that you and your friends end up with more cookies, more work, more required table space. 
  • Viva variety! Don’t limit or micromanage the types of cookies people bring. Let them bring their fave homemade cookies. Is there such thing as too many Christmas cut outs, or, heaven forbid, chocolate chip? (Those of you who answered ‘yes’, relax. Cookies don’t go bad. Share them with your friends later.)
  • Have guests bring their cookies loose and on trays or platters, not pre-bundled in little packages. It’s more fun for guests to create the bundles on their own out of the cookies they want in them.
  • Speaking of bundling, if you or any of your guests want to end up with a few ready-to-gift cookie packages ask them to bring cute packaging, maybe a cute jar, a craft box or even cello bags and ribbons. They’ll assemble the gift at the party, people can share craft supplies and ideas and those who do it walk away with gifts for teachers, co-workers or hosts of other holiday gatherings!

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

  • Non-cookie snackage: As host, make cookies if you want, but it’s sufficient to focus on supplying cheese and other savory snackables to offset the truckloads of sugar your friends are bringing over. Hot beverages are a fine addition to the festivities; use cheap red wine or an unfiltered apple juice and throw a handful of mulling spices and a cinnamon stick into the pot, let simmer on low throughout the party. My friend Jennifer over at Nourish served chili and did a deelish hot cocoa bar for the kids at their family cookie exchange.
  • Share the love: Ask friends to email you the recipe(s) or at least bring one copy of the recipe. Post-party you can combine and share the collected recipes with attendees via email. If you have a lot of time on your hands and money to drop at FedEx Office, you can make little recipe packets as party favors. (Cookies are perfectly suitable favors, too.)
  • Allergy-friendy: If you invite gluten-free or vegan people, make sure there’s a handful of other people who have the same dietary restrictions on your invite list so they’ll have plenty of trading possibilities. I took home gluten cookies for friends from a recent swap I attended in addition to plenty of cookies I could actually eat. 

gluten-free peanut butter (& jelly!) cookies

  • Set it up: Form a mingly open area out of wherever you are hosting the swap, maybe it’s your kitchen and living room, and utilize every elevated flat space, bookshelves, mantles, coffee tables, etc. as a spot for people to set plates of cookies. Try to keep traffic flow in mind, not cramming tables or directing traffic into corners because it’s hard for more than a couple people to stand there at one time.
  • Sweet supplies: Get plenty of napkins for people to carry around as they eat cookies and snacks. Also, have bags or boxes on hand for people to pack up cookies to take home. Simple brown paper bags work well or up the fancy ante with cute packages that guests can use again for gifting cookies. 
  • Everyone loves prizes: I like the idea of a secret ballot where attendees write down their fave cookie at the party and stick it in a box or jar; the winner takes home something small, like a jar of homemade pickles or jam (if you don’t have that on hand, surely one of your friends does…) or cookie-related paraphernalia like a cute vintage cookie-cutter, rolling pin or a package of fun cookie embellishments from a fancy bake shop! 

Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment and I’ll incorporate them into the post!