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Home baked cookies are fun to make and eat, but it’s a lot of work to make a variety of different types of cookies. A great way to lighten the load is to host or participate in a cookie exchange.
What is a Cookie Exchange?
A cookie exchange or cookie swap involves getting a group of friends together and coming up with a plan. There are a variety of ways to do a cookie swap, but coordination is really the key.
The basics to a cookie swap are that everyone makes one type of cookie and then packages the cookies to trade off with the other bakers who have made a favorite cookie recipe.
Traditionally, a host will plan and coordinate a cookie swap party and then host a get-together, so everyone can trade packs of cookies. In some cases, everyone brings extra cookies for the party, and everyone gets to sample the cookies at the party, but it can also be a brunch or lunch with the cookies traded around at the end. A fruit salad and muffin party or soup and sandwich gathering can be a great backdrop for the cookie exchange.
Since things can get hectic at the holidays and with electronic communication, new wave cookie swaps can be set up in other ways now. For example, small groups at work might do a cookie swap. This can all be handled by email, and then one person collects and bags the cookies which are picked up at the end of the work day. In this case, all the cooks are asked to drop off the cookies at the beginning of the day, and they are put in bags and ready to take home at the end of the work day.
Setting Up a Cookie Swap
Cookie swaps generally work out better with small groups. Cookie exchanges can be done with large groups and then a tag team kind of trade around, but that gets complicated. A group of six (for example) means that each person makes five half-dozen, dozen or other designated amount of cookies. Each participant then gets five cookie packages to take home. Everyone gets bags from the other members of the group. With larger groups, it usually works better to have a round robin set up, so those participating do not have to make huge quantities of cookies.
It’s critical to make sure your group members are on board for the cookie swap. It really gets complex if someone drops out at the last minute. This is case where a RSVP is critical. The host must know who is participating to set up the cookie swap. It’s also wise to have some extra cookie packs set back just in case. You never know when something might come up.
Once the cookie exchange group is established, decide on the number of cookies and let the bakers know. If recipes are to be included, be sure to gather those. The host usually makes copies. Those can be done in hard copy or can be grouped for an email to all cookie traders.
Tips and Details for the Cookie Bakers
Some folks have done cookie swaps before. Some have not. It is helpful to include some tips with the invitation.
Overview the basic idea in your cookie swap invitation or email.
Welcome to the Cookie Exchange group. On DATE, we’ll all bring X number of cookies in separate packages to trade.
Include other details as indicated. For instance, if you want to include recipes to hand out or email, be sure to let the cookie swapers know when and how to get the recipes to the host. Be sure to include a deadline, so you’re not up all night before the swap trying to organize the recipes.
Packing the Cookies for Exchange
There are many ways of packaging cookies for an exchange, and part of the fun of an exchange is seeing how various cooks wrap their cookies. On the other hand, those who have never done an exchange may call, email or text message for help. Be prepared to offer some ideas.
Many cookies pack fine in quart sized zip lock baggies. More fragile cookies may need to be packed in containers. There are nice throwaway containers with lids available near the baggie and foil products in the grocery store. Another option is to check Good Will or the Salvation Army store and get tins. Those are priced quite low and can be lined with tin foil to pack cookies for a swap.
Is It Worth the Effort to Set Up a Cookie Swap?
Setting up a cookie swap the first time can seem a bit daunting, but once you have the details down and run one, it’s rather simple. You can start and continue a tradition with a select group of friends or take the idea and use it across your various circles.
Everyone ends up with a nice selection of cookies rather than just one or two large batches. If you host a party to go along with the cookie swap, then it’s another nice holiday time with friends. Even if it’s less formal, a cookie swap is still a way of keeping in touch with others during the holiday season.
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