Credit: Gerilee McBride

Why settle for store-bought cookies when you can enjoy those made by your closest friends?

Having a variety of cookies on hand for Christmas guests and holiday visitors is easily achieved by hosting your own cookie swap

Cookie swaps are, by nature, the best kind of party. Combining massive amounts of sugar, butter, and caffeine with party goers drunk on the excitement of the season fosters the holiday spirit in even the grinchiest of hearts.

Liberace may not be your guest of honour like he is at my house during the holidays, but guests do inevitably make their way over for a drop of glog or a dram of rum-spiced eggnog and what better way to make their visit a treat than to stuff them full of cookies.

I try to incorporate both guests and cookies by hosting a cookie swap.

Here are some fast and loose rules to hosting your own successful seasonal swap.

Tips for Hosting a Successful Cookie Swap

  • Send invites as early as possible: Decide on a date and send out invitations as soon as you can. Some people like to get their holiday baking done in advance, so it's best to give your guest bakers plenty of warning. You may want to include a short note on the how-tos of freezing baked goods.
  • Decide on some rules: The invitations should include the rules of the cookie swap. Besides the obvious (date, time, place), you should also note the amount of cookies you're asking everyone to bring. I found that 4-6 dozen cookies is just the right amount with an extra dozen for tasting during the party. Don't forget to note if you require bakers to bring their own display tray or plate, and remind them to bring extra large containers to hold their cookie bounty.
  • Request written recipes: Have everyone bring copies of their recipe (enough for each invitee); this short-cuts any questions regarding food allergies or dietary restrictions and allows for bakers to swap recipes with ease.
  • Supply beverages: Have a supply of drinks at the ready; tea, coffee, water, and anything else that goes well with cookies. If so inclined, you could make a small plate of salty things like crackers, pickles and olives to act as a counter to all the sweet stuff.
  • Swap cookies: After the sample munching has finished and it's almost time to go home and nap, gather everyone around the cookie table with their containers to start swapping. A simple way to divide and conquer is to have guests take 3 cookies from each plate during "rounds" until all cookies are gone. This eliminates the need for a calculator when divvying up the goodies and it also makes for a nice variety of cookie layers in your container.