Planning a Cookie Exchange

14 December 2022

Actually you can throw a cookie swap party any time of the year, but they are most prevalent toward the end of the calendar, during the holiday times.  The premise is simple.  You invite friends who each bring several dozen cookies; you serve an appropriate beverage or two; everyone munches on the baked goods while chatting.  At the end of the afternoon or evening, each person takes samples from each participant, so you leave with about as many cookies as you came with, except they are not yours.  A recipe exchange is also usually included.

The first thing is to decide on your guest list.  Usually between five and 12 is a good number.  Part of the criteria is the size of your home or apartment.

Then you decide on the ground rules. That includes defining what is a cookie.  What about rice cereal treats?  Are bakery or store-bought or slice-and-bake acceptable?  You will need to do a little calculation.  Based on the number of guests and allowing for two or four per person to take home, plus how many each guest will eat at the event, you can let them know how many dozen to bring.  For eight people, four dozen should work.

If this is a group that meets regularly, you can discuss it in advance.  Or, you can even combine groups you are associated with, like combining ladies’ lunch group with your book club.  Even if you talk about it beforehand, send out written information by email or text so that everyone has a record of the date, time, and ground rules.  You can create and send a written invitation if you have the time and inclination.

On the same order of a pot luck, you can either let fate decide what variety of treat each person will bring and hope that they are not all decorated sugar cookies or you can have a sign up sheet, electronic, of course.  Your choice.  For easy transporting, sugar cookies and bars travel best.

You need to decide for yourself what you will serve along side.  A beverage is a must.  This can be tall glasses of milk, coffee, teas, or whatever you think will pair nicely with the sweets.  If it is scheduled around the dinner hour, you may want to consider at least some substantial snacks like a charceuterie board, bruschetta, or veggie platter.

Decide where you will place all the cookies.  Be sure there is plenty of room to walk around the dining room table or kitchen island, or whatever.  Will you be happy with everyone just placing their plastic carriers on your tablescape or should you specify that they provide fancy serving plates or will you provide something?  Are fingers acceptable or will you need to have tongs?

Remember to provide napkins and plates.

The fun of a swap is that you get to bring home samples of everyone else’s baking.  Be sure to remind each person to bring a tin or other container for their take-homes.

Review your overall game plan.  Incorporate any type of tablescape or decorating you are willing to put forth.  You can play games like guessing who baked which batch or the ingredients.  You can have a prize for the best cookie.  Find some baking or cookie-related trivia.

The most important thing is for you to have an enjoyable time with your friends.  Don’t let your hosting duties interfere with visiting along with everyone else.  Enjoy this celebration!

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