Christmas Cookie Exchange Party & Recipes

Host a Christmas cookie exchange party with easy tips and recipes for a fun holiday gathering. This is a Christmas tradition that you can host for ladies night in, a neighborhood get-together, or an office party.

Christmas table with pedestals and trays of cookies.

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Swap

Who doesn’t love cookies? Host a Christmas cookie exchange for your friends and neighbors and get the party season started!

I think you’ll find my tips and ideas are practical, thoughtful, and most of all, do-able! Plus, I’ve offered up some of my favorite cookies and bar recipes, and some dessert balls too, to help get you started.

Plan Ahead

Plan and send out invitations as early as possible. If you want to host in early December you’ll have to get them out by Thanksgiving.

  • A good time to host may vary, but Sunday afternoon seems to be a good option overall. You can always go with a Friday or Saturday evening too.
  • Some people like to host later in the season so they have plenty of cookies to share with family guests when they arrive for Christmas.
  • Use digital invitations like Evite, or just create a group text or Facebook event page. The group options are nice because guests can interact and coordinate with each other as to what cookies they’ll be making. The goal is to not have duplicates.
  • Let guests know the ground rules for baking. They’ll need to know how many cookies to bring and whether they should bring the recipe, which I highly recommend.
different cookies in a circle on marble table, with text list of cookie names.

Set the Rules

In the case of a Christmas cookie exchange, you will need to put some ground rules in place for the type of cookies everyone should bring.

For instance, do you want only homemade treats, holiday-specific recipes, or decorated cookies? And do you want to expand the options to bars, balls, and treats?

I suggest that you welcome all skill levels to the party and remind your friends that it’s all about the “fun” aspect. Let them know it’s okay to improvise with semi-homemade or dressed up treats if they must. I admit, I love a good slice-n-bake cookie!

The idea is for everyone to make cookies from scratch, but let’s face it, some of our favorite people can’t or don’t bake, or life get’s too hectic, etc. Let’s not leave them out.

white pedestal of cookies on Christmas table.

Pick A Theme

A cookie party is pretty much the perfect theme as is, but you can add some festive twists to it too.

  • Make it an ugly sweater party.
  • Have people dress in festive attire. That could mean red and green, all white, something sparkly, etc.
  • It can be a mother-daughter party with multiple generations.
  • This could be your theme for a holiday girls night in party.
  • Make it a Cocoa and Cookies party and set up a hot chocolate bar.
  • Of course a Cookies and Cocktails party is always a fun option.
table of cookies on white platter, for Christmas.

How Many People?

Keep it small and intimate so guests aren’t overwhelmed by the baking. Six to eight people is a good number for a small party at home, although you could kick it up to 12 or 15 for a church group or ladies group.

Just remember, the more people you invite, the more cookies everyone will need to bake.

Have enough cookies for tasting and taking home. Guests will need to bake a lot of cookies which is why I like a smaller party.

wood and marble pedestal with chocolate cookies and oatmeal cookies on top.

How Many Cookies

I recommend making at least 4 dozen cookies whether it’s a party of 6 people, or 10. That way you should have plenty of baked goods to take home.

Using that rule of thumb, the smaller the guest list is, the more of each type of cookie you get. The larger the party, the more variety you get.

Most recipes make about 2 dozen cookies so keep that in mind when baking.

gold, red and green ball ornaments inside apothecary jars on table.


The cookie table will be the center of attention so make it as festive as possible while still leaving room for all those cookies.

  • Set up on the dining room table, a long folding table, or the kitchen island; wherever you have the most space.
  • Lay a themed tablecloth as a base. It can be as simple as the color that matches your holiday décor.
  • If you have holiday dishes, tins or platters, now is the time to use them!
  • Make an easy Christmas centerpiece with glass apothecary jars or large bowls filled with ornaments. Gather some evergreen clippings from the yard to place around the base.
  • Provide empty place cards or tent cards so each guest can label their cookie type and who made it.
  • If you have a Christmas tree to place near the table, that is a bonus!
wavy potato chips topped with sour cream and caviar, on marble tray.
vegetable platter with tomatoes, carrots, and baby squashes.

What to Serve

Have some savory snacks and appetizers available to eat. Finger food that’s easy to pick up is best.

  • Since it’s the holidays, why not serve caviar-topped potato chips. Just use thick cut wavy potato chips, top with sour cream or crème fraiche, and a dollop of caviar. There you have an elegant, salty snack that helps cut all the sweetness.
  • A vegetable tray is a welcome snack that offers something fresh and light.
  • Easy bacon wrapped crackers add a delicious saltiness that’s great for the occasion. It helps balance all the sugar.
  • My favorite sausage cheese balls are a fabulous make-ahead appetizer that everyone loves, and they’re so easy to eat.
  • Other savory options are a salty popcorn snack mix or savory spiced pecans. They’re great to put in bowls and set around the room.
gold tray holding coffee carafe and liqueurs.
round glass with white drink inside and cheers stir stick.


Set up a beverage bar that compliments the cookies. I like an eggnog and coffee bar complete with add-in options.

Provide Kahlua coffee liqueur, Godiva chocolate liqueur, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Amaretto almond liqueur, or Frangelico hazelnut liqueur. All of these taste great added to coffee or commercial eggnog.

An alternative is to make coffee eggnog punch or my easy eggnog party punch.

table holding a stack of brown take-out boxes and ribbon.

Take Home Boxes

Have a cookie gifting station so guests can pack them up to take home. Use cookie tins or cute kraft boxes from the craft stores. They’re a great size and shape for packaging the cookies.

You can line them with tissue, parchment, or wax paper, and offer up ribbon to tie them closed.

pile of cookies in brown take home box.


You don’t need much to entertain guests at a cookie swap. The fun is in the socializing, eating and drinking.

But if you want to offer something extra you could set up a cookie decorating station.

  • Provide plain sugar cookies that are pre-baked. Slice and bake dough works really well for this.
  • Set out some decorator icing and writing gels.
  • Add bowls of sprinkles, M&M’s, Red Hot candies, sweetened flaked coconut, crushed candy canes, dragées or other toppings, and let guest go to work.

Another thing you can do if you want, is to vote on some favorites. Categories could include overall best flavor, cutest, or most original.

round white plate holding biscotti surrounded by a rosemary wreath.

Recipe Exchange

  • Ask guests to print out and bring their recipes to share with the group. Make sure they have the guest count so they have enough.
  • Or, they can send the recipes to you ahead via email so you can compile them and print them out for each person to take home.
  • Even easier is to compile the recipes into a PDF that everyone can download and print for themselves if they want.

Use these free printable recipe cards if you like.

green cookies with red cherry in the middle, on glass plate with cup of eggnog.
biscotti dipped in chocolate with red and green M&M's attached.

Cookie Recipes

You don’t have to limit your offerings to cookies at an exchange party. I think it’s even better when you include dessert balls & truffles, brownies & bars, or fudge & candy treats.

party table set up for Christmas cookie exchange, filled with cookies and ornament decorations.

Final Checklist

  1. Send invitations early stating the specific rules of the cookie swap.
  2. Welcome all cooking skill levels and decide if bars and other treats will be included.
  3. Bring plenty of cookies to share.
  4. Set a festive table leaving plenty or space for the cookies to be placed.
  5. Provide cards to label each cookie and who made it.
  6. Gather all the recipes or have guests provide them.
  7. Provide finger foods and salty snacks to offset the sugar.
  8. Serve holiday drinks or punch.
  9. Have containers for guests to take their cookies home in.
  10. Vote on best tasting, most festive, most original, or other category if you like.

Any or all of these Christmas cookie exchange party ideas and recipes will make you the hostess with the most this holiday season.

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