How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap Party

This holiday season, get in the spirit with a party concept that'll satisfy every guest's sweet tooth and spread wintry cheer. Inviting friends over for a midday cookie swap is a super-simple way to gather loved ones and mix and mingle over treats, and when guests get to contribute their own recipes and baked goods to the spread, hostess duties are a breeze. Simply set a neutral foundation with tableware that you likely already have, then add some sparkly handmade details to turn up the holiday factor in a flash.

One Smart Cookie

Transform your dining room table into the ultimate cookie buffet. By choosing to stick to a neutral palette, you can pull from entertaining supplies that you likely already have: a natural burlap linen, white and glass serving pieces, and classic small snack plates.


Photography by Kate Stafford

Homemade Happiness

Adding a little holiday cheer to your party space is as easy as folding and cutting. Simple kraft paper snowflakes add a handmade, cozy touch to your soiree, and they take no more than a few minutes to make. Begin by tracing the edge of a dinner plate onto kraft paper. Cut out the circle with scissors, then fold in half three times. Cut geometric shapes into the edges of the folded triangle, then open the folds to reveal a beautiful snowflake design.

Stick 'Em Up

Use two-sided tape to attach the kraft paper snowflakes to the wall above your cookie buffet. Arrange many for a showstopping display, or use just a few for a subtle touch of hand-crafted whimsy.

Backyard Basics

Want an easy and inexpensive alternative to the classic holiday flower arrangement? Look no further than your own backyard! Since this party concept is casual and all about the menu, a fuss-free metallic branch arrangement is an easy-breezy solution.

Branch Out

Gather twigs and branches of different shapes and sizes. Apply an even layer of silver spray paint all over the branches and allow to dry. Arrange the branches in a deep vase or a footed urn for a rustic yet festive arrangement.

Share the Love

Keep the holiday spirit flowing by encouraging guests to bake and bring their favorite holiday cookies, along with enough filled-out recipe cards to give to each guest at the party. Simply include stamped or plain notecards with each mailed invitation, then guests can taste and swap recipes to their hearts' content all afternoon long. Be sure to punch a single hole in the corner of each card so they can be easily stacked and tied together, creating a perfectly bound package for guests to take home.

The Chocolate Lover

Set out a mouthwatering cookie spread that will make a convert of even the biggest savory lovers. And what better flavor than chocolate to please the masses? Spread holiday cheer by whipping up these easy chocolatey holiday cookies; because the recipe calls for store-bought cookie dough, it's a breeze to whip up and can even be modified to include peanut butter cups. We dare you to try just one!

Get the Recipe: Easy Chocolately Holiday Cookies

Double the Fun

These Double Ginger Cookies are the sweet secret to a successful swap. For a flavor that’s slightly more sophisticated and a texture that's cookie perfection, serve a batch of these ginger-infused buttery treats. Guests will be grateful for a slightly less decadent option, and once they try one, they'll be begging to take the recipe home with them.

Get the Recipe: Double Ginger Cookies

The Fig Factor

This time of year is bursting with rich and flavorful produce, so a cookie swap party is a great opportunity to incorporate some fresh ingredients into your super-sweet menu. Don't be intimated by the preparation time required to make these chewy fig and almond cookies — they're well worth the wait. These nutty, chewy concoctions will have guests oohing and aahing in sheer delight.

Get the Recipe: Chewy Fig and Almond Cookies

Make Your Mark

With a table that's overflowing with cookies, it's important to identify each recipe. Creating your own dazzling menu card holders is as simple as heading outside and hunting for fallen pinecones. In just one crafty step your guests can easily remember which cookies they loved, and when glitter is added to the mix, your buffet table can instantly be transformed to be more festive.

Sparkle and Shine

Start by spraying glue adhesive generously onto the pinecones. Then liberally sprinkle fine silver glitter all over and set aside to dry completely. Once they're dry, simply insert a handwritten menu card into the top "scales" of the pinecone and display in front of the corresponding dish. Hint: If the card won't stay in place, use a drop or two of craft glue to secure it.

If You Give a Guest a Cookie ...

How can guests be expected to indulge in one cookie after another without a glass of milk to wash it all down? This quintessential pairing is a cookie swap must, and when displayed in classic glass milk bottles with a striped paper straw, a pretty presentation can come together in a snap. For an added touch of holiday glitz, line the rims of each milk bottle with a generous helping of edible glitter.

Apple of My Eye

Stir things up with an apple cider punch that'll have guests coming back for seconds (and thirds). A large punch bowl is the perfect way to fill any empty space remaining on the buffet table, and that rich amber hue is a gorgeous splash of holiday color. Garnish with fresh orange slices and star anise for a flavorful addition and showstopping presentation.

Sweet and Salty

This party may be all about the sweets, but that doesn’t mean you have to neglect guests' cravings for a pinch of salt! Filling large bowls with salty nibbles like classic popcorn, pretzels and roasted nuts couldn’t be easier to do, and the savory options will be a welcome break from the nonstop cookie consumption.

The More the Merrier

For a party favor that'll help guests relish your cookie swap long after it ends, send friends home with treat bags filled with — what else — cookies! They'll be thrilled to fill their bags with all their favorite bites from the day, and when wrapped with twine and a tied-on name tag, these bags make for a sweet and simple presentation. With all their merry sweets in tow, guests will go home happy and definitely not hungry.