Clearly Christmas: A Christmas Cookie Swap in Se7en Steps…

One of our Christmas Traditions is to have a cookie swap the last Sunday before Christmas. We invite almost everyone we know and certainly everyone we bump into leading up to it… And yes I can sense you reeling in horror – “Who in their right minds would do this?”… Turns out it is a great way to get to see all the people we would like to see at this time of year – at once… That’s it – it is the at once factor that appeals to me… So we have this huge bash and the rest of the time between Christmas and New Year is pretty much our own – down time for the father person and hanging by the pool for hoods.



Not only do we get to see a heap of friends and everyone gains a bunch of cookies, but we donate a package of cookies from every family to a local Aids Community Clinic… My kids love the whole experience, they have a great party with all their friends and the next day we take all the cookies round to the clinic to donate. It is an easy way for them to genuinely learn that it is better give than to receive without us having to spell it out.

Before we get going with the party lets look at se7en cookie recipes, just to get your creative juices going:

So here we go A Christmas Cookie Swap in Se7en Steps…

The most important thing to remember: Keep it simple – really.

Step 1: Invitation:



Choose a cookie photograph: we have used countless cookies: a chocolate chip cookie, a gingerbread man… Then include the obvious when and where kind of information. And this is important: explain what people need to bring…

  • 1 dozen cookies packed and ready to donate and
  • 2 dozen cookies ready to swap.

That way every family donates a prepackage of cookies and every family gets to choose 2 dozen cookies they didn’t bake to take home for when friends pop in. (Except my kids always choose the cookies I bake back again!)

Step 2: Party Starter:

As guests arrive they need a place to put their cookies… keep donate-ables and swap-ables separate and to avoid disaster keep all cookies away from any food you are serving.



Now if you know me then you know I loathe clutter and stuff… and believe me Christmas decorations are mostly clutter and stuff… I bring our box of decorations out the night before the party – huge heady excitement, obviously! Here is the party starter: Leave the decorations in a bowl beside the tree: Guess what you tree will be decorated in a flash. I have a friend with teenage daughters who have done a fantastic tree like this for me, year after year. I guess what I am saying is things don’t have to be perfect – let guests have some ownership of the party too.

And I will blog about another party soon that gets all the decorations packed away and ready for the next year!!!

Step 3: Party Games:



I guess the party game of all games is the actual swap… hand everyone a plate or container and let them march around the cookies picking their two dozen to take home. I usually suggest no more than two or three of a particular cookie so that everyone gets a chance to sample the wares. I have always had an abundance of cookies and people generally take home a whole lot more than 2 dozen per family.

Step 4: Party Craft:



The obvious party craft is of course cookie decorating and I have blogged enough about that… So let me give you a decorating hint for when you have 7 kids and their 30 best friends round to decorate cookies…

  • If you are putting hundreds and thousands on the cookies then sprinkle them once the cookies are on the baking tray and gently press them onto each cookie with your finger – before baking, so the sprinkles don’t fall off. 


  • If the kids are frosting the cookies and then sprinkling, let them put their frosted cookies in a lunch box before they sprinkle. That way the excess lands in the box, and their will be lots which can be recycled back into the sprinkle pile.

Step 5: Party Pinata:



This kind of party doesn’t really need a pinata. Try telling my kids that!!! But what I do is, before we swap, I give each family a disposable cookie container and experience has shown that a large cardboard cake box works best. I ask them to decorate their container uniquely before we do the actual swap. This sure lessens the chances of someone going home with someone else’s cookie choice. And everyone goes home with a ready-made party-pack.

Step 6: Party Food:



Make sure that whatever food you serve it has absolutely no relation to cookies – just to avoid confusion. And if you are having a lot of guests over you want lots of finger foods and no dishes! Remember also that a party needs just one food and one beverage to be a success… We are in the middle of blazing summer here, so I serve summer fruits and lemonade. Typically the summer fruits I serve are a big bowl of grapes, big bunches are broken into small groups of two or three grapes; or a bowl of bite-size and de-pipped watermelon, cherries from Chart Farm and strawberries from Stellenbosch. That’s it nothing to heat or store specially – in fact nearly no preparation!

Step 7: Treasure Hunt and party-packs:


As I said before every-one’s cookies in their boxes are their party packs. I usually have a bowl of little tiny party favours… like erasers, pretty pencils, a glitter pen, tiny decorations or whatever and let everyone choose one… One year we made crazy cookie crayons, really easy and quick and fun. But this gives me an idea – this year the little treats will definitely be hidden and scavenged!

That’s it – have fun and party on!