The holiday season is in full swing and holiday parties are quickly starting to fill up our calendars. From office parties to reunions with families, there are various ways to celebrate with those who are closest to you, but one of the most fun (and easy!) types of gatherings are cookie exchange parties. As experts in delicious shortbread cookies, Walkers is here to break down how to best host a cookie swap and provide tips to ensure it’s a success.
But what exactly is a cookie exchange or swap party? The idea behind a cookie exchange is for each person to bake (or buy) a large number of one kind of cookie, often a family recipe or childhood favorite, to share with the group. The party itself is always fun and the cherry on top is going home with so many different varieties of cookies to enjoy over the holidays.
The first thing you’ll want to do when planning your party is determine your guest list. We recommend keeping the list relatively small, as each participant usually brings a half dozen to a dozen cookies for each invitee. Six to eight invitees is a good place to start.
After you set the guest list, let everyone know about any dietary restrictions that need to be taken into consideration, such as nut allergies. Once that’s in place, you can then set the rules of the cookie exchange. The most important thing to determine is how many cookies everyone should provide for each other so your guests can plan ahead.
For those too busy or unsure of their baking skills, an additional rule could be that the cookies don’t have to be homemade. Store bought cookies can be decorated or added to in so many fun ways! As seen in the picture above, Walkers Gingerbread Men are absolutely delicious on their own and also the perfect base to decorate. Walkers Festive Shapes, Highlanders and Vanilla Shortbread are also great choices and can be used in recipes like these Marshmallow Topped Shortbread Cookies.
Next, consider setting a theme for your cookie exchange party. Setting a theme can add an extra layer of fun to the festivities and could increase the excitement from your guests. You could base the theme on ingredients, colors, or be extra creative with a theme based on a certain tv show or movie.
With the theme and guest list set, it’s now time to send out the invites. In these days of online everything, mailing or delivering paper invitations is a nice, personal touch. There are a number of fun templates you can use to create and print your invites at home or have printed and shipped to you. If you’re feeling extra creative, handmade invitations are another opportunity to lean into the fun and decorate the invites according to the theme that you have set.
Speaking of decorating, you can also decorate your home for the party. You can base it off the theme you chose, in a general holiday manner. You’ll also want to make sure you have all the appropriate serving trays, bowls, and plates for your setup.
Prior to your cookie exchange party, you’ll want to make sure you have other snacks and drinks for your guests to enjoy. When it comes to the food, we recommend offering easy and light options like fruit, vegetable dips, and miniature sandwiches. Embrace the season by offering seasonal refreshments such as eggnog and hot chocolate, or various holiday cocktail and wine options.
For a fun alternative if you’re unable to host a cookie exchange party in person, the cookie exchange can be coordinated virtually as well. You can still set a theme for the exchange and the cookies can be sent via the mail to all the guests. A virtual exchange also offers you the opportunity to play games virtually with your guests. We recommend using JackBox Games for your virtual gathering, as they offer a variety of games that are sure to have all of your guests laughing and having fun.
Finally, whether you are hosting a cookie exchange party this season, or going to one, Walkers Shortbread is an excellent choice to help you make the best cookies possible. From our Chocolate Dipped Candy Cane Shortbread, to our Shortbread Turtle Cookies, or our Shortbread Biscotti, we have a variety of recipes that will ensure you have a delicious offering at your next cookie exchange.