How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap

Hosting a holiday cookie swap will be a breeze with these reliable recipes at your fingertips.
By: Emily Lee
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FNK SOFT SUGAR COOKIES Food Network Kitchen Food Network Allpurpose Flour, Baking Powder, Fine Salt, Sugar, Unsalted Butter, Eggs

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Good friends, fresh baked goods and a few generous mugs of (possibly spiked)  hot chocolate: That’s what a holiday cookie swap is all about. If you’re hosting this year, it’s time to choose your recipes, check your pantry (ditching old spices and other baking staples that have been collecting dust at the back of your shelves), and head to the store for missing ingredients. Remember to stock up on  treat bags or roomy covered containers; that way, everyone can go home with a few edible mementos.

Guests are generally expected to bring one batch of cookies. (Or you might ask guests to bring two or three batches, depending on the size of the swap.) When hosting, it’s wise to bake two or three different varieties, and remember to take food allergies into account. Choose two familiar, tried-and-true recipes, like classic sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. (That way you won’t stress over making errors and can focus on beverages and decor too.) The third cookie should be super-seasonal and more of a challenge. You can make one recipe the day of, but make the other recipes a day in advance — whatever works best with your schedule. Here are a few of our most sought-after holiday cookies to get you started.

Cookie #1: Classic Sugar

Food Network Kitchen's Soft Sugar Cookies (pictured at top) are the classic sugar cookies you could roll out in your sleep — except they might be more tender than you’re used to, thanks to an extra egg in the dough. Before baking, roll the dough in red and green sanding sugar. The cookies will bake up in just 20 minutes. Check out more of our festive takes on sugar cookies  here.

Cookie #2: Decadent Chocolate

Bobby Flay's Triple Chocolate Cookies will satisfy the need for something rich, dark and chocolatey. Best of all? They require just 15 minutes of prep work. Set aside an hour or two before your guests arrive to whip up the batter, then enjoy the cookies as they should be enjoyed: warm and gooey, straight out of the oven. Check out more of our easy and indulgent chocolate holiday cookies  here.

Cookie #3: Extra Festive

Your third and final cookie should be a real showstopper — something so special you could imagine it gracing your baking sheet only during the holiday season. Any one of these four recipes will do the trick. If you’re feeling really ambitious, go ahead and try them all!

FN CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT WHOOPIE PIES Katie Lee Food Network Unsalted Butter, Allpurpose Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Fine Salt, Sugar, Eggs, Vanilla Extract, Milk, Vegetable Shortening, Confectioners’ Sugar, Marshmallow Cream, Peppermint Extract, Candy Canes

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Cool Peppermint

Katie Lee's  Chocolate Peppermint Whoopie Pies require a bit of extra effort, so get a head start the night before by preparing the chocolate sandwich cookies. Then, on the day of your swap, mix up the marshmallow creme filling. Once you've assembled your sandwiches, don't forget to roll the sides in crushed candy canes — that's what gives these tender little treats their holiday flair. Rest assured, the end result makes this recipe well worth your time.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY THUMBPRINT COOKIES Katie Lee Food Network Nonstick Cooking Spray, Unsalted Roasted Peanuts, Oldfashioned Rolled Oats, Flour, Fine Salt, Butter, Sugar, Egg, Vanilla Extract, Favorite Jelly

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Buttery Thumbprints

Thumbprint cookies are a holiday staple, but unlike the chocolate chip and sugar cookies we enjoy year-round, these buttery little treats come out to play just one season per year — so seize the moment! Katie ups the ante with her  Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies, which will leave your guests feeling festive and nostalgic for childhood all at once.

FN HERMIT COOKIES Jeffery Zakarian Food Network Allpurpose Flour, Cinnamon, Baking Soda, Fine Salt, Allspice, Ginger, Unsalted Butter, Dark Brown Sugar, Unsulphured Molasses, Eggs, Vanilla Extract, Orange, Semisweet Chocolate Chips, Vanilla Bean

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Spicy Ginger

It isn't a holiday cookie swap unless there's gingerbread in the mix, and Geoffrey Zakarian's  Hermit Cookies satisfy that need. Comforting brown sugar meets warm molasses and a host of holiday spices, like cinnamon and allspice. It gets better: Geoffrey throws some chocolate chips into the mix as well, combining two of the greatest cookie flavors ever.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Comforting Pecan

Pecan pie lovers will adore these  Kentucky Pecan Bars — the taste of the pie is condensed into a compact, buttery little bar. The ample squares add some welcome diversity to the usual lineup of drop cookies and roll-out cookies that are so abundant during the holidays.

For more tips on hosting a festive and foolproof holiday cookie swap, check out our step-by-step guide.

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