Our Top 10 Christmas Cookie Exchange Party Ideas

There’s no better (or sweeter) way to ring in the holiday season than with a cookie exchange party! This is a wonderful way to spend time with friends and family while enjoying some of your favorite cookie recipes, and stocking up your pantry for a season of entertaining. Below, we've put together a helpful cookie swap guide with some tips and tricks to make your event a success.

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Plan your Cookie Exchange Party - Top 10 Ideas:

1. Send invitations and get organized! The first step to planning a cookie exchange party is to make sure you’ve worked out all the details. How many cookies should each person bring? How do you avoid duplicate recipes? Punchbowl offers an entire collection of free cookie exchange invitations, and an easy, free Potluck tool. Add the Potluck tool to any of our online invitations to help keep track of everything. Encourage guests to add their recipes to the Potluck page so there are no duplicates. You can also use this page to let guests know how many cookies they should make. Here are two of our favorite cookie swap invitation designs. Send one here

2. Serve savory finger foods. There will be a lot of sweets at your cookie swap party, so it's important to balance it out with some savory dishes. You don’t want guests to get overloaded on sugar! Here are 3 easy cookie exchange menu ideas:
  • Menu A: Crudite and Dip, Pigs in a Blanket, and Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Menu B: Tortilla Chips and Guacamole, Mini Pizza Bites, and Mini Teriyaki Meatballs
  • Menu C: Cheese and Fruit Board, Artichoke Dip and Crackers, and Baked Brie with Figs
Baked Brie and Fig En Croute Recipe
  • 1 wheel of Brie cheese
  • 1 package of crescent roll dough
  • 6 ripe Mission figs
  • 1/2 cup fig preserves
  • Crackers for serving
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375º F. Open the package of crescent roll dough, and lay it out in an oven-safe baking dish. Unwrap the brie and place it on top of the crescent roll dough. Spread a layer of the fig preserves over the wheel of brie. Wash the figs, then cut them into quarters and remove any dark brown bits. Place the figs on the Brie and all around the sides. Wrap the crescent roll dough around the brie, beginning at the corners and working your way around in a clockwise circle. You can choose to cover the brie completely or leave an opening at the top in the style of a galette. Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown, the Brie has just begun to ooze, and the figs are caramelized slightly on the outside. Serve immediately.

3. Mix up a signature cocktail. This is one of our favorite ways to add a festive touch to any holiday party menu. Set up a little bar area -- a small table, a bar cart, or even a couple of shelves on a bookshelf in your living room will do the job. Add a sign with the name of your cocktail and set out plenty of glasses so your guests can serve themselves. Make sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks on hand too. Here’s one of our favorite holiday cocktail recipes for you to make at your cookie exchange party!
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Easy Crock Pot Mulled Wine Recipe

  • 4 c. apple cider
  • 1 bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ¼ c. honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 oranges, peeled (for garnish)
Directions: Combine the apple cider, red wine, cinnamon, orange zest, orange juice, cloves, and star anise in a large crock pot. Set on “low” for 4-6 hours. When you’re ready to enjoy, ladle into mugs and add an orange peel as garnish. Cheers!

4. Set up your cookie buffet. With a little prep work ahead of time, you can make your cookie swap party table completely Instagram-worthy. Guests will also appreciate having an easy way to collect their spoils at the end of the event! Set up a large table exclusively for the cookies themselves. We recommend one long buffet-style table, or a table placed in the middle of the room that guests can walk all the way around. Add a festive tablecloth, and then create some levels for displaying the cookies. Cupcake stands, slices of birch logs from the craft store, and holiday platters will do the trick. Set out little labels and markers so each plate of cookies can have a sign identifying the type of cookies and the baker who brought them. 

5. Provide baskets or bags for everyone to collect their goodies. Some of your guests may remember to bring their own basket for collecting and swapping cookies, but it's always a good idea to have some on hand for those who forget! Patterned cellophane bags with gold ribbon ties are a quick cookie swap packaging idea. Small takeout-style boxes are also cute, especially if you decorate them with a plaid ribbon and bow!

6. Set the scene with festive music! No one likes to celebrate in silence, so plan ahead with the perfect playlist for your cookie exchange party. Include a mix of old and new, such as Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Mariah Carey, Michael Bublé, and more. Here's an excellent Spotify Christmas playlist we love. 

7. Play a cookie exchange party game. Get everyone mixing and mingling with a festive Christmas party game. Sometimes guests need a little encouragement to chat, and this Christmas Gift Wrap Race is a great ice breaker. Award the winning team with this adorable DIY Christmas party prize -- an oven mitt and baking supply kit!

 Christmas Party Game: Gift Wrap Race

  • Split up guests into teams of 3 and set them up with 1 empty gift box, wrapping paper, scissors, and a ribbon
  • Each team member has their own task: Cut paper, wrap the gift, and tie it with a ribbon
  • Start the clock, and the team who finishes the fastest (and ends up with a pretty package) is the winner!
8. Pile on the couch and watch a girly Christmas movie. Once you’ve satisfied your sweet tooth, sit back and relax with a classic Christmas movie. During the chaos of the holidays, this is always a welcome cookie exchange party activity. Here are a few of our favorite Christmas movies:

  • The Holiday
  • Love, Actually
  • Muppet Christmas Carol
  • White Christmas (careful, it’s a long one!)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (also epically long!)
  • Elf
  • Four Christmases
  • Prancer
9. Hand out cookie swap party favors. Nothing puts the icing on the cake like a festive party favor. Give your guests an extra little goodie as they leave the party. Classic metal cookie cutters are a fabulous party favor for your cookie exchange party! Choose shapes such as a Christmas tree, Santa hat, reindeer, and star. Tie a colorful ribbon onto each, and if you have time include a personalized “To” and “From” tag with your name and each guest's name.
10. Send a thank you note. A day or two after the party, send your guests a thank you note (we recommend these beautiful free eCards). You can also gather all the recipes and share them along with the note so that guests can recreate all the tasty treats!

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Here’s one of our favorite cookie recipes of all time. Check out these other cookie exchange recipes for even more inspiration!

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Classic Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

  • 3 ½ c. all-purpose flour; more as needed
  • 2 ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ c. light or mild molasses
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest (from about 1 ½ large oranges)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the ginger, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. In a separate bowl (or in a stand mixer) beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and mix until well combined. Then, add the molasses and zest and beat until smooth, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix slowly. Mix just enough for the flour to be incorporated, and do not over-mix. The dough will come out very sticky and stiff.
  • Place all the dough onto a lightly floured baking sheet and flatten to about 1 inch. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for about an hour.
  • Heat your oven to 350º and re-arrange the racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Cut the chilled dough into 4 pieces. Generously flour your work surface, and roll out one piece to about ⅛ thickness, keeping the rest of the dough in the freezer.
  • Using a cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and use a spatula to transfer them over to your baking sheets. Make sure to space out about ½ an inch apart, brushing off any extra flour.
  • Keep rolling out the remaining dough, and cut into more shapes. Continue rolling and cutting until you’ve filled the baking sheets, making sure to use up any scraps from the previous batch.
  • Bake the cookies until golden brown, about 10 minutes. You may want to swap out the baking sheet positions halfway through baking, depending on your oven. Cool on wire racks. Make sure to use a fresh piece of parchment paper for each batch.
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