I hadn’t heard of a cookie swap until I married and moved to Minnesota, my husband’s home state. Minnesota was settled by Scandinavians and Germans, cultures that have impressive baking skills. Recipes were passed down from one generation to the next. Sharing food was, and still is, a way to celebrate Christmas and make the holiday easier.
If you’re looking for fun and socialization, a cookie swap is the answer.
In a website article titled “Host a Cookie Swap Party,” Good Housekeeping magazine describes the party as “low-key, high-payoff.” The magazine published a book to ensure the success of your party, The Great Christmas Cookie Swap: 60 Large-Batch Recipes to Bake and Share.
Martha Stewart shares ideas in a website article, “8 Steps to Hosting a Cookie Swap.” As Stewart notes, “Everyone leaves with finished gifts—and plenty of new recipes.” Cookie swaps in Minnesota can be gifts or desserts for the family. To host a cookie swap you need to consider invitations, types of cookies, set-up, recipes, cookie containers, and refreshments.
Invitations. You can create one on the computer, buy invitations, or use an Internet template. The number of people you invite depends on how many can fit in your home. Computer invitations are inexpensive and easy to make. Ask guests to bring their recipes and print out one for each person. Send out invitations one month before your party.
Types of cookies. To ensure a variety of cookies, ask each person to make a specific kind—drop cookies, cut outs, bars/squares, refrigerator cookies (which are rolled into a log and cut into discs), cake mix cookies (really popular now), stamped cookies (shortbread) , rosettes (fried cookies), or biscotti (twice-baked cookies).
Set up. Put a tablecloth on the table and set several plates and platters on it. Each guest arranges their cookies on a plate or platter. Make signs to go with the cookies, such as “Beth’s Orange Drops” and “Grandmother’s Coconut Squares.” Food allergy signs, such as “contains peanuts,” are also a good idea. Use paper plates and napkins for easy clean-up.
Cookie containers. You have several options here. At holiday time, grocery and discount stores carry metal and plastic tins. “Cookies for Santa” plates are also available. Cookies may be packaged in Chinese take-out cartons, available at craft stores. If you use take-out cartons, cookies should be put in plastic bags to keep them fresh, and then put into food cartons.
Refreshments. Coffee, tea, punch or hot cider may be served. Add crunch with a homemade or store-bought vegetable dip tray. A fruit platter, again, homemade or store-bought, is always welcome. Soup and small sandwiches are another idea. No need to worry about dessert because you have dozens and dozens of cookies.
Pass out food preparation gloves, available at grocery stores, before guests swap their cookies. Each guest takes home a box or plate of assorted cookies and the recipes for them. Provide zipper plastic bags for the recipes to protect them from food spills or getting wet. Cookie swaps are really fun. Start planning your swap today!