Inspiration & Ideas

An Epic Guide to Hosting a Christmas Cookie Exchange (Even Your Grinchiest Friends Will Love It)

A Christmas cookie exchange invitation.

The only thing better than a batch of homemade Christmas cookies is a personalized batch of multiple kinds of homemade Christmas cookies. Imagine: a few chocolate chip, a couple snickerdoodle, a gingerbread man—and they’re all made by your friends and fam!

As dreamy as it sounds, this magical platter of festive cookies is actually super attainable. Enter the Christmas cookie exchange, perhaps the most iconic of holiday parties. It’s festive, it’s fun, it’s interactive—and every guest gets to go home with a beautiful assortment of homemade cookies. A real dream come true!

Of course, if you’ve never attended a Christmas cookie exchange or you’ve never hosted your own, you might have a couple of questions about how they work. That’s why we’re here to answer all your Christmas cookie exchange questions, all in one place. Read on because we’re spilling all the tea (cocoa?) about Christmas cookie exchanges.

(Hungry for more? Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Christmas cookie exchange content here! We partnered with Food Network to bring you exclusive cookie recipes, invitations, fun cookie facts and cookie decorating tips!)

A baking tray full of different kinds of Christmas cookies.

What is a Christmas cookie exchange?

A Christmas cookie exchange is a popular kind of holiday party that gives guests the opportunity to flex their baking muscles, share sweet treats with friends and get in the holiday spirit! Guests bake their own cookies, bring them to the party and exchange their cookies with other guests to create a fun combination of cookies!

When should I send out invitations for a Christmas cookie exchange?

Send out your invites around a month in advance to give your guests enough time to plan ahead and figure out what cookies they’ll be bringing.

Make sure to include info about how Christmas cookie exchanges work somewhere on your invitations and remind guests to bring their cookies in a storage container to ensure they’ll have something to bring other cookies home in!

Find plenty of free and Premium cookie party invitations here, perfect for all your holiday baking festivities.

How many cookies should people bring for a Christmas cookie exchange?

For parties with 10 guests or fewer, ask everyone to bring around a dozen cookies each. For larger parties, guests should only need to bring a half dozen each. 

How does a Christmas cookie exchange work?

As guests arrive, direct them to a designated area to place their cookies. A large table is typically best. Have your guests put their cookies on display and consider laying out some index cards and pens so guests can make a sign saying their name, what kind of cookie they brought and any allergens to be aware of!

Once the cookie table is all set, it’s time to get swapping! Using their own storage container, guests will walk around and select any cookies from the table that catch their eye. As a rule of thumb, guests should take no more than they brought in order to ensure that everyone gets a full assortment of cookies. By the end of the night, each guest will have a delightful hodgepodge of homemade cookies to take home!

For the smoothest party, it is best if hosts provide serving platters for everyone’s cookies. Consider buying festive platters like this one from Amazon. By providing platters, your guests will ideally be able to transport their cookies to the party in one storage container, empty their container onto a platter and fill up that same container during the exchange!  

Do I have to bake my own cookies?

Ideally, guests will be bringing their own homemade cookies, but life happens! While Christmas cookie exchanges are a great way to show off your baking skills or share a family recipe with your friends, guests might not have the time to bake something homemade in time for the party and that’s okay. If this is the case, bringing your favorite store-bought cookies is totally chill, just make sure they’re still holiday-themed!

When should I host a Christmas cookie exchange?

The best time to host a Christmas cookie exchange is sometime in mid-December. In fact, according to our data, December 15th is the most popular day for holiday parties! You want to make sure you aren’t hosting your party too close to Christmas as people might be out of town or spending time with family, but you also don’t want to host your party too early, either.

What other kinds of cookie parties can I host?

The holiday season is prime time for every kind of cookie party! Some of our favorites include:

  • Bake or buy a few dozen sugar cookies and lay out plenty of frosting, icing and decorating tools. Then, invite guests to get creative!
  • Cookies & cocoa parties
  • The only thing better than a Christmas cookie is a Christmas cookie with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate!
  • Gingerbread house decorating parties
  •  Buy a few gingerbread house kits like this one from Amazon, throw on some holiday music, heat up some hot cocoa and see what everyone builds!

What are good recipes for a Christmas cookie exchange?

We partnered up with Food Network to bring you free exclusive recipes for the following cookies, perfect for a Christmas cookie exchange: 

The Best Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread men hanging from a cup of hot chocolate.

Holiday Swirled Sugar Cookies

Holiday swirled sugar cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A pile of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.

Holiday Monster Cookies

Holiday monster cookies in a basket.

Marshmallow Melting Snowman Cookies

Marshmallow melting snowman cookies.

You can find the downloadable recipes for these crowd-pleasing treats here.

Top tips for hosting


Star-shaped plates, tree-shaped serving platters, and candy cane balloons.

No holiday party is complete without a fun and festive atmosphere! Whether you hang twinkly lights or lay out a holiday-themed tablecloth, consider creating an environment that feels aligned with the party's theme.

A red and white balloon arch.

Our holiday decor picks:

An autumnal tablescape.

For even more great finds, check out our full Amazon shop here.


Don’t forget to keep your guests hydrated! Even though the cookies are the star of the show, setting up a beverage station with big-batch cocktails, wine, beer, soda and water is definitely a good idea.

For the more ambitious mixologists among us, this delicious chocolate mint martini is the perfect, on-theme beverage to totally wow your guests with!


We’ve all learned it the hard way: too much sugar on an empty stomach is never a good idea! Make sure you’re giving your guests something else to snack on at the party, ideally including plenty of savory options to offset the sweetness from the cookies!

Here are some of our fave holiday apps and snacks:

Of course, in the event you’re totally spent from all the baking and party prep, you truly can not go wrong with an assortment of chips, dips and veggies. Charcuterie boards are also an infallible option. As long as your guests have something other than cookies to munch on, you’re good to go!

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