Cookie Exchange: Great Cookies, Great Friends

One of my best parties was a holiday cookie exchange that my dear friend, Christina McHenry and I co-hosted for several years. It was an excuse to stop shopping and doing, and instead sip tea, eat cookies and chat with neighborhood friends.


When I left the Washington D.C. area, I missed our tradition, and tried to replicate it here on the North Shore. The chit chat and tea were just as good, but ladies, the cookies! Disgraceful. Store bought cookies still in the plastic clamshell are not cookie-exchange worthy.

The fault was totally mine. In my new neighborhood, I was starting from scratch and women who didn’t know what was expected have to be forgiven for thinking that slice and bake are fine.

I’ve learned a few tricks and most of them are about inviting the right group and communicating:

  • Decide ahead of time how many cookies you want to exchange. If it’s a dozen per person, you’ll want a smaller party than if you’re only swapping a ½ dozen.
  • Think about who you’re inviting. Passionate bakers unite. Slice and bakers form a different group. Don’t mix the two!
  • Plan the party for a Sunday or early in the week so people can bake on the weekend.
  • Hire a babysitter if young children are included, and provide them with their own cookies.
  • Ask guests to bring copies if you want recipes.
  • Supply disposable containers for everyone to take home their cookies in.
  • Plan on extra cookies for nibbling.

After all your planning, make sure your invitation is clear. Here’s an example of what the small print could say:

Please bring 6 dozen of your favorite homemade cookies to share and 12 copies of the recipe.
Take home containers provided.

Then your only decision is what cookies you should make—chocolate almond biscotti, sugar cut outs or rugelach—enjoy!

If you have a homemade, but easy cookie recipe, enter our cookie contest. We’re not looking for the most elaborate cookies on the North Shore. We’re looking for yummy, but simple.