The Cookie Swap: DOs & DON’Ts


Do you ever wish you could have an amazing cookie spread to showcase to family and friends without having to spend the time making dozens of different holiday cookies? Between buying all the ingredients, making the dough, baking the cookies and decorating them, (whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it) you could have it all in one night. Yes! It’s true, it’s called The Cookie Swap, and believe me, it’s the way to go! If you’re lucky, you will be invited to one this year, but if not, take it upon yourself to host one. The Cookie Swap will become your new favorite holiday tradition, and I promise your kids and especially your spouse will be so happy to see the variety of wonderful homemade goodies you bring home to them.

With a few Cookie Swaps under my belt, I have some highly recommended DOs and DON’Ts, should you decide to attend or host one. Luckily, I have an Italian Godmother and a Pizzelle press handed down to me from my Pop-Pop, so I’m pretty set each year with our traditional recipes. But, between the internet and Pinterest, I’m sure you will find just the right cookie to make if you don’t already have a family favorite.


If you get an invite to a Cookie Swap, by all means, follow what your hostess has asked of you. If she asks for 3 dozen, you better show up with 3 dozen! I don’t mean to sound like a cookie hag, but you have to bring the exact amount (or more) to be fair when swapping. It may seem like a lot of cookies to make, but that means you will be walking home with 3 dozen amazing cookies that you didn’t have to make. WIN! Also, some Cookie Swaps I’ve been to have requested a few extra cookies for a sampling tray, that way the guests can taste the cookies without digging into the swap stash. Those tasting cookies could be part of prizes for Best Tasting, Most Original, Prettiest Cookie and more, depending on what your hostess has in store. A hostess might also ask you to bring a savory appetizer because after sampling all of those sweets, your tastebuds will want a break. Another request I’ve had was to bring a serving tray or dish to showcase your cookies, again all depending on your hostess. And of course, try to bring a small hostess gift; she is saving you from making a ton of different cookies just in time for the holidays.


When it comes to the actual task of making the cookies, try to choose a cookie dough that you can make ahead of time. That will leave you with only the baking and decorating the day of the swap, which means less mess and more time to make them look fabulous and not like you just rush-made 3 dozen cookies immediately before walking in the door (I made that mistake… once). Some of my favorite make-ahead cookie doughs are ginger bread, peanut butter and the good, old-fashioned sugar cookie. Some cookies you can even bake and freeze ahead of time, and they will do just fine — just remember to give them plenty of time to defrost. If you’ve got a recipe where that works, double WIN!


For goodness sake, don’t walk into to a Cookie Swap with store-bought cookies and think you are going to fool anyone! I’ve seen it — it’s embarrassing for the swapper, and it’s really tacky. It also isn’t fair for all of the other swappers who took the time to make homemade goodies to swap, only to receive a few store-bought cookies — even if they do look pretty and perfect. So, if this is your first Cookie Swap rodeo, just know that the swappers take this pretty seriously, so absolutely don’t fake bake.


Okay, I love decorating cookies to the point of being a little obsessive. We use a homemade royal icing recipe, icing bags and plenty of pretty sprinkles. We make a whole day of decorating cookies, but when you’re asked to make 3- to 5-dozen cookies, save going all Martha Stewart for another time. You will be so tired of icing and decorating by the first dozen that you will either not want to finish the rest, or you’ll wind up with a rush job. Another thought on decorating — keep it minimal. You will be making so many cookies, trying to keep them consistent is hard enough without being elaborate.


Who couldn’t use a few extra hands when you’ve got more cookies to make than the Pillsbury Doughboy? Kids love to help in the kitchen, and it gives them so much joy, especially this time of year. You will be creating memories that will last a lifetime. So, turn up the holiday tunes, put on the aprons and get them working — just remember to have them wash their little hands first, of course!


It can be a little overwhelming to come home with a huge box full of cookies, so here are a few more tips on spreading the cookie love. First, I take all of our favorite cookies — usually around 2 dozen — and put them in a cute tin or Tupperware for our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day showcase. Usually, the Cookie Swap is a few weeks before Christmas, so I put those in the freezer. I then take another dozen and save them for New Year’s Eve. Of course, this all depends on how many cookies you received during the swap and how many people are in your family. If there are any cookies you don’t care for, don’t waste them… it’s a nice gesture to give some to your neighbors, even your not-so-friendly ones. Just kidding… kinda!

I hope this has helped you in your Cookie Swap preparations. If you have any questions on proper Cookie Swap etiquette, comment below, and I’ll be happy to help. Thanks for reading and happy Cookie Swapping!

A Jersey Girl at heart, business owner and graphic designer, Sherri is a mommy of two and active volunteer. A native to Jax Beach since 1992, thanks to her father’s service in the US Navy, Sherri’s roots are firmly set in Jacksonville. A Flagler College grad, she knew she wanted to be her own boss and a SAHM, so she created Sassy Ink Design Studio in 2009. She met her husband in the Florida State Football Locker Room (don’t let your mind wander, she was on a tour) and was engaged within 3 months! For a short time they lived in Destin, FL where they had their two children, but missed Jacksonville so much, they came back to raise their family in the best city in the south! Over the past 14 years, Sherri has competed in, coached and judged pageants across the state. Currently, she is Mrs. Jacksonville International, but don’t let that fool you. She kick boxes, loves football, camping and can change the oil and a tire on a car. Obsessed with Christmas, you can find Sherri designing in her home office with her snowman mug, bullet coffee and Nat King Cole playing in the background.


  1. to each his/her own; I may bring store-bought cookies vs. home baked due to legit time crunch, plus: the Swap was set for Dec. 8th. The idea that these cookies will last ’til Christmas is laughable. The demographic of the group is 60 and up, several with Type 2 diabetes, and they all tend to avoid carbs all the rest of the year, ordering salads or soups when we go to lunch. At least holiday Pepperidge Farm cookies (Milanos, with chocolate on top and peppermint crumble) are festive and have a shelf life…they’ll look pretty on anyone’s cookie tray. If they get squirrelled away in a cupboard and found after Christmas, they’ll still be good for Valentine’s day or maybe longer.

  2. That’s very lazy Dorothy! If I want store bought cookies, I can buy them myself. What I can’t buy is the pride that a home baker puts into their cookies. Yours will be left on the platter (laughed at) and not eaten (now or later).

  3. Edward, you are wrong. I’d rather eat some beautiful store bakery cookies then risk the dog hair and kid snot of someone else’s kitchen.


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