How to Run a Successful Cookie Exchange

We did a cookie exchange with 20 participants at my employer in 2004. This fun event went very smoothly, so I thought I’d share what we did. Overall, the event took about 40 minutes.

Update, Dec 2013: Need an idea of what kind of cookie to bring? Check out this article on thekitchn, which provides 5 classic cookies and 5 new cookies. We did the cookie exchange again this year, and it was great. I made a double batch of the Chewy Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies with these changes, since no one in the group had food allergies: 1) regular flour instead of ground oats, 2) butter instead of vegan margarine, and 3) regular brand of semisweet mini chips. People said they appreciated having something different.

Rules of the Cookie Exchange

At a cookie exchange party, everyone brings a large batch of cookies. Each person must bring a different kind of cookies (no duplicate recipes are allowed). Aim for variety, so every cookie doesn’t have nuts in it, for example. Everyone who participates takes home an assortment of cookies.

  1. Bring at least five dozen special cookies of one kind. (For most recipes, this is a double batch. Cookies don’t have to be big.)
  2. Arrange your cookies in a basket or platter for the swap.
  3. Cookies should look good and taste good.
  4. It’s okay if you don’t have time to bake. A tasty, quality cookie from a bakery can be a nice addition to the party. Bar cookies and brownies are also acceptable.
  5. Variety is key: No two people can make the same kind of cookies. First come, first serve on reserving a type of cookie.
  6. The cookies you’ll bring must be easily transportable. Cookies will need to hold their form while mixing with other types.
  7. Bring along an empty container that will hold the just desserts of the cookie exchange. (You might want to bring sandwich bags to separate cookie varieties so that the flavors won’t mingle.)
  8. Share the recipe you used with other participants. (We asked people to share a memory of each recipe or say why it was special to them. These memories were included in the recipe booklet I compiled after the event for all participants.)

Cookie Advice
Sources: and

Flour: When measuring flour, spoon it into a cup and level it off with a knife, rather than scooping, which tends to pack the flour into the measuring cup. It will make a big difference!

Dough: Mix the ingredients together carefully and quickly. Do not overbeat the dough, or you will have tough, rubbery cookies. You may freeze the dough for up to 3 weeks.

Sheets: Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Parchment saves you from having to wash the cookie sheet. Often a greased cookie sheet can cause the cookies to run out, and be too thin. You can have the next batch of cookies ready to slide onto your baking sheet when the first batch slides off. This helps with clean up as well as speeding up the process.

Fresh from the Oven: Once cookies are out of the oven, let them cool completely before you decorate or store them. Gingerbread is really good with lemon or chocolate icing.

Freezing Cookies: You can freeze most baked cookies up to 2 weeks. Zap them in the microwave for 30 to 50 seconds.

More tips: Dorie Greenspan is the author of a new book, Baking: From My Home to Yours (Houghton Mifflin, $40). Greenspan shares her tips for cookie baking: