What Is A Cookie Swap? How Does Cookie Swapping Work

This post contains affiliate links.

If you’re looking for a relaxing way to celebrate the holidays, a cookie swap could be just what you need to usher in that holiday cheer. Although cookie swapping has been a very popular event for many years now, there are still some people that don’t know what a cookie swap is.

A cookie swap is an informal party, usually going on for 45 minutes to 3 hours, that allows guests to exchange different types of cookies. Every guest at a cookie swap brings one type of cookie. Ideally, every guest should go home with one of each type of cookie that was brought to the cookie swap.

People Swapping Gifts For A Cookie Swap

Even though I grew up with cookie swaps as part of my holiday experiences, I’ve come to meet others who have never participated in a cookie swap until I invited them. If you are new at cookie swaps, I will be happy to share some of my tips and tricks for having a successful swap.

What Is a Cookie Swap?

A cookie swap is a gathering of guests at a party to exchange cookies between each other. Every guest brings cookies in order to swap those cookies with some other guest at the party. A cookie swap is usually hosted by one person in the community.

Although cookie swaps do not necessarily have to be strictly for holidays, they were certainly part of the holiday season in my mother’s house as I was growing up.

However, every old tradition can give rise to new ones, and I’ve certainly had cookie swaps at other times of the year!

Cookies out of the oven
Bring Fresh Cookies To Every Cookie Swap!

*By the way, if you’re looking for some new cookie sheets/baking pans to replace for your kitchen, I recently came across the Perfect Nonstick Cookie Sheets / Baking Sheets Set that I got for myself and they work great! You can check out these Nonstick Cookie Sheet Set on Amazon!

Some people host a cookie swap for up to 3 hours, however, many others like to extend this get-together to have a longer party.

The best part of a cookie swap is knowing that you can have a bustling get-together without being stuck doing all of the work. Since swaps require guests to bring cookies, a swap has all of the ease involved in a potluck… with the additional bonus of the event revolving around cookies.

The key to having a successful cookie swap is remembering that it is not a competition. I often keep a spreadsheet to track which guests are bringing which type of cookies so that none of the guests feel as though they are competing against others.

While everyone may strive to have the “best” cookies at the swap, the true goal should be to share recipes and taste new delicious treats.

*Side Note: You might also want to know How To Bake Cookies Without A Cookie Sheet. I recently wrote an article that talks about What Can You Use To Bake Cookies Without A Cookie Sheet, which you can check out here!

I look forward to hosting cookie swaps because they are a relaxing, informal way to have a celebration during any time of the year.

How Do Cookie Swaps Work?

As a general rule, every guest brings their own cookies and recipes to exchange with other guests at a cookie swap depending on their tastes. During the cookie swap, everyone should take home one of each of the cookies that were brought to the occasion.

Other rules for cookie swaps generally include:

  • Guests should be prepared to bring at least two to three dozen cookies
  • Arranging the cookies in a unique display on a platter is recommended
  • Guests should bring containers with them so that they can take home cookies made by other guests

In general, you and your guests can decide the rules for a cookie swap. Include elements that appeal to you and your guests and add new traditions!

*By the way, I recently wrote an article about What Is A Christmas Cookie Crawl. This article explains what is a Christmas cookie crawl and how it works. You can check out this article here!

What Counts as a Cookie for a Cookie Swap?

The host of the cookie swap gets to decide what counts as “cookies.” Some hosts will include only homemade cookies, while others will allow baked desserts such as brownies or lemon bars.

Homemade Cookies On A Plate
My Favorite Homemade Cookies!

Either way, there will be some kind of a dessert brought to be swapped!

I am a traditionalist, so when I host a cookie swap, only homemade cookies are allowed! However, you may wish to be more flexible and have more of a “dessert swap.”

*Side Note: I recently wrote an article that breaks down Can You Use Bread Flour To Bake Cookies. This article talks about what you should expect when Baking Cookies With Bread Flour. You can check out this article here!

What Types of Cookies Should Be in a Cookie Swap?

As a general rule, only homemade cookies should be used in a cookie swap. The goal of a cookie swap is to share recipes and exchange homemade cookies with one another. Store-bought cookies defeat the purpose of having a cookie swap.

Although a cookie swap should always use homemade cookies, the recipe does not have to be the person bringing the cookies.

Sometimes I bring cookies to a swap that has been in my family for generations, while other times I bring cookies to a swap that involves a new recipe.

A good cookie swap involves both old traditions and new experiences, and I like to bake cookies that embrace both of those aspects!

*By the way, I recently wrote an article talking about How Many Cookies Do You Need Per Person For Christmas. In this article, I created a calculation of how many cookies to make per person for Christmas. This is important to know so that you will always have enough cookies! You can check out this article here!

How Do You Share The Recipe at a Cookie Swap?

As a whole, you can share your recipe at a cookie swap by printing out multiple copies of your recipe and handing them out to any guest who wants to know it. Make sure to bring an allergy sheet with you to the cookie swap so that the guests know what ingredients are used in each type of cookie.

You will need to bring an allergy sheet and a copy of the cookie recipe to the cookie swap. You can either print the recipe out on regular paper or purchase recipe cards for the specific purpose of printing the recipe.

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
Everyone Shares Their Recipes!

You should always make sure that you print out enough copies of the recipe so that everyone attending the swap can take home a copy of the recipe!

I typically prefer to use recipe cards. These cards are easy to customize for the specific time of year that you are having your swap. I’ve had great success customizing cards for Halloween, Christmas, and spring cookie swaps.

*Side Note: You might also want to know How To Properly Store Cookies. I recently wrote an article that talks about all you need to know for Storing Cookies To Make Them Last, which you can check out here!

How Many Cookies Do You Bring to a Cookie Swap?

As a general rule, you typically need to bring at least two dozen cookies to a cookie swap. However, the precise number of cookies that you bring to the swap can depend upon a number of factors including how many people will be attending the swap and how long will the swap last.

  • How big is the event going to be?
  • How long will the event last?

When I attend a swap that I am not hosting, I always ask the host who invited me how many people are invited. Always leave room for at least two to three cookies per person.

Remember that they will be tasting them and also taking at least one cookie home with them.

What Can You Use to Store Cookies for a Cookie Swap?

As a whole, you can store cookies for a cookie swap in an airtight container. Tupperware containers work well for storing cookies, but so do cookie tins. When placed in an airtight container, cookies will have a smaller chance of becoming stale and hard.

It is good etiquette for guests to bring their own storage containers to take home cookies from the swap. However, if you are hosting, you may wish to have paper bags or other inexpensive containers for cookie storage purposes.

Bringing cookies that are fresh is very important for a cookie swap!

*Side Note: Reheating your cookies the right way is no simple task, If you’re looking to know if you can Reheat Your Cookies In An Air Fryer, I recently wrote an article that talks about What To Expect When Reheating Cookies in An Air Fryer, which you can check out here!

How Do You Win a Cookie Swap?

As a general rule, you can win a cookie swap by making a cookie that the other guests vote is the best tasting. However, not all cookie swaps are competitions. Many swaps are designed to simply be a relaxed party atmosphere with sweet treats.

Should your cookie swap be a competition? It can be if you and your guests want to include that as part of the festivities. You can also include different categories, such as best tasting or most creative.

Make sure the winner gets a prize!

If you are going to have a competition as part of your cookie swap, make sure that you include a prize for the best overall cookie.

How to Host the Perfect Cookie Swap

To be the perfect host for a cookie swap, prepare for the swap early and communicate exactly what guests should expect from the cookie swap. Send out invites at least a month ahead of the cookie swap and be prepared to decorate the table to create the appropriate theme for the swap.

Your guests will likely have a lot of questions. When you send invitations, make sure that you answer many of their questions upfront.

Cookies at a cookie swap
Make Sure You Have A Great Theme At Your Cookie Swap!

Typical FAQ about your cookie swap may include:

  • Is there a theme?
  • Are there any allergies the guests should avoid?
  • Is this a competitive cookie swap? Will there be prizes?
  • Will the host be providing serving platters or should the guest bring them?
  • Do the guests need to tell you what type of cookies they are bringing?
  • How many guests will be there?

If you’re hosting a cookie swap for the first time, you will need to know an answer for each one of these questions ahead of time.

Most cookie swap hosts create their own rules based on their preferences so this list of questions could change with each individual host!

What Do You Serve at a Cookie Swap?

As a general rule, appetizers and drinks should be served at the cookie swap by the host. Good appetizers include savory dishes such as cheese trays, chips, pretzels, and crackers. Drinks that should be available at a cookie swap include water, soda, and coffee.

Should You Include Alcoholic Drinks at a Cookie Swap?

Alcohol can be included in the cookie swap if all of your guests are adults. Cocktails can instantly make the party more fun, but you can also include non-alcoholic versions of your favorite drinks.

During the winter holidays, I like to serve cider or a fun festive cocktail. But I always make sure there are non-alcoholic alternatives available, too.

*By the way, I recently wrote an article about Why Your Cookies Might Not be Spreading. This article speaks about all the reasons your cookies will remain in a ball instead of spreading into a cookie shape. You can check out this article here!

To Summarize…

In short, a cookie swap is a social snack event where participants bring cookies to share with other participants, but only one individual can eat a given cookie at a time, with the rest of the cookies being dished out to other participants.

Hosting a cookie swap for the holidays is every baker’s dream! It is always great to show off your baking skills and bake a tasty batch of cookies. Just remember to have fun and enjoy all the treats!

Spread The Love & Share Our Post!


My name is Fainna! I've been baking desserts ever since I was 10 years old with my grandma passing her baking wisdom down to me with every passing day. I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful here at my little Baking Nook!

Recent Posts