Christmas Cookie Exchange Ideas

Check out these ideas to make your Christmas cookie exchange a success!

When I first discovered the Christmas cookie exchange, I thought I'd found heaven. For those of you who don't know how it works, let me explain. Instead of spending three weeks slaving over the stove and messing with a dozen different recipes and ingredient lists, you make one big batch of your favorite cookies, bundle them in packages, and trade them with other cookie participants. It's cheaper, easier, and it lets you find new recipes, too.

Christmas cookies are a big deal in our house, whether they're feeding the guests or just making a holiday dinner seem a bit more special, so I like to have lots on hand, and that makes me full of Christmas cookie exchange ideas. Here are my tips to keep things running smoothly!

The perfect Christmas cookie exchange

1. Make it fun! Don't just toss packs of cookies at each other. Have a Christmas cookie exchange party and take some time to sample everyone's baking and celebrate the season together before you all go your separate ways.

2. Start early. The earlier, the better. And make sure you know how many people are participating in your exchange and how many cookies they expect to receive - everyone needs to know how many cookies to make and how to package them. Anticipate between one and two dozen cookies per person per type. Encourage people to freeze their offerings so they'll last longer.

3. Share Christmas cookie exchange recipes to make the occasion even more special. Ask bakers to make copies of their recipe and include them on index cards with each packet. That way, not only do you get ten packages of Christmas cookies, you get ten new recipes to try.

4. Encourage people to try new and interesting ideas - but make sure they (and you!) have tried the recipes before at least once. Chocolate orange shortbread sprinkled with cayenne and marzipan might sound intriguing, but you might make it and find it tastes awful - or that it's far too much work to justify making the volume you'll need.

5. Encourage kids to get involved by having their own mini exchange at your Christmas cookie exchange party. The kids can present a small dish of their own homebaked cookies and sample their friends', which helps them feel part of the festive proceedings.

6. Check with people ahead of time to see what recipes they're using. If eight people all bake shortbread, you won't have much of an exchange. You could even consider offering up unique Christmas cookie exchange recipes for people to try. Usually this isn't much of an issue, though: people tend to get creative around the holidays.

7. Insist on fun! Don't let people get too stressed out because their cookies aren't perfectly iced or not as round as their neighbor's. The point of a Christmas cookie exchange is to reduce stress, not cause it. Blast the Christmas carols, pour some eggnog, and encourage everyone to have fun.

Follow these tips, and this year you'll have the best Christmas cookie exchange ever.

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