We love creating holiday traditions with our kids, and this year we decided to start a new one that was a major homerun: a Holiday Cookie Exchange! (Because really, can it get any better than celebrating the season with friends and dozens and dozens of cookies?!)
With the help of our sponsor, Walmart, and their amazing selection of holiday invitations and cards, we’re going to walk you through some helpful tips and tricks for creating your own holiday cookie swap that your kids will never forget.
It’s a fabulous way to get them in the holiday spirit, create memories with their friends (or family if you so choose), and of course sample some delicious holiday treats.
If you’re unfamiliar with how a Cookie Swap works, the basic idea is that everyone bakes a large batch of their favorite cookies and then brings them to the party to share with all the guests – so everyone gets to take home an assortment of yummy desserts for a fraction of the effort. Sweet deal, right?
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PIN for when you’re ready to plan your Holiday Cookie Exchange
First things first, set a time and date for your party. Depending on the age of your child, take into consideration things like nap times or school schedules. The holidays are a busy time for everyone, so be sure to give their families enough notice to get it marked on their calendar.
For kids, we recommend inviting no more than 7 friends to keep it manageable, but use your own discretion.
As a general guideline, everyone will need to bring ½ a dozen cookies for each person attending. This way there is plenty for sharing (and sampling!). Make sure this is listed on your invitation so parents can plan in advance.
We love the idea of sending the invitees a real printed invitation, because what child doesn’t love to get something in the mailbox? These days it doesn’t happen very often, so it makes them feel extra special, and isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
We chose the invitations you see here from Walmart’s whimsical holiday collection. They were super easy to customize online and we were blown away by the quality – thick and sturdy card stock, amazing designs and vibrant colors. We’ve linked the one we used, plus some of our other favorites below:
If your kids are old enough to write, have them personalize the back by adding a note like “hope you can make it!” or “cookie coma ahead!”.
You can also add any additional instructions on the back of the card. You might want to include:
- Baked or Bought – let parents know that store-bought or a boxed mix is OK, or if you want to go the homemade-only route
- Cookie Recipe – ask your attendees to bring copies of their recipe to share with guests at the party, so if someone falls in love with a certain creation, they can make it for themselves
- Allergies – ask your guests to let you know if they have any allergies so you can make accommodations if necessary
To prepare for your cookie swap, you’ll need a few large tables (or ample counter space), for sampling, swapping and packaging. Set up your largest table with different platters, cake stands and festive bowls so each guest has a place to set up their cookie contribution. Having multiple pairs of tongs on hand will help keep germs contained during the selection process.
Set out folding place cards and a marker so each cookie can be labeled with the variety and baker upon arrival.
We highly suggest organizing a simple craft or activity to keep the kids entertained while you wait for everyone to arrive. We provided our guests with these plain cookie boxes and a station with markers and festive stickers so they could personalize them, which was a big hit.
FOOD & REFRESHMENTS
Although there will be plenty of cookies to go around, we suggest setting out some other nibbles to keep things balanced – a veggie platter, fruit kabobs or cheese and crackers would be a nice accompaniment to the sweet treats.
And of course, you can’t have cookies without a nice cold glass of milk! Display them in these cute milk jars with festive straws. Alternatively, you could create a fun Hot Cocoa Bar where the kids have the option of adding lots of delicious toppings like whipped cream, mini marshmallows, candy cane stirrers or chocolate syrup drizzles!
Set the tone of the party by playing some upbeat festive music that will get everyone in the holiday spirit.
When guests arrive, show them where to set-up their cookie selection on your buffet table and write down their cookie name on the folding card to label.
If you’re doing a craft or activity, have them head over to make a start.
Once everyone has arrived, orchestrate the swap. We had our kids stand in a line and with box in hand, make their way along the table where the cookies were displayed, instructing everyone to take a certain amount of cookies from each platter. Depending on the age of your group, you might need some adults to help the distribution go smoothly.
When all the cookies have been swapped, it’s time for the best part…sampling!
Consider making a cookie contest where kids can vote on various categories including things like “favorite cookie”, “best decorations” or “most creative”. You could even offer prizes for the winners – things like cookie cutters, aprons, cookbooks or other baking necessities would tie in nicely.
After ample time for sampling, have everyone head over to the packaging station where they can secure their cookie box with ribbon, twine or festive washi tape. Again, depending on the age of your group, grown up assistance may be required!
When it’s time for your guests to head home, send them off with a thoughtful favor. We used red whisks, spoons and spatulas and tied-on our Holiday cards with a hand-written “thanks for coming” note on the back to create a personalized parting gift.
We again headed online to Walmart to create these high-quality holiday cards. They have a great selection of festive designs (take a peek at some of our favorites below) and creating them couldn’t be easier.
Now you’ve got all the tips you need to create a memorable tradition for your kids…the only thing left, is to find that winning cookie recipe!
Thanks again to our sponsor, Walmart, for providing incredible printed invitations and cards that will add a special touch to any Holiday Cookie Exchange.