5 Tips for Hosting a Holiday Cookie Swap

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Office parties, family feasts, swanky soirees—the end of the year is full of festive fêtes. For me, the holidays are about cookies. More specifically, swapping them; it's a fun, low key way to celebrate the season. Here are my tips for hosting a successful cookie swap, including some great recipes from The Kitchn:

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This is the third year I'm hosting a huge cookie swap to raise money for pediatric cancer charities. Though we're expecting 10,000 cookies and 100 attendees, what works for us also works on a smaller scale:

Display. How much area do you have to work with? If you're short on surfaces, build up with cake stands, boxes under tablecloths or covered in wrapping paper, or tiered trays. Paper doilies tie even the most different serving pieces together. Perhaps request that everyone brings their cookies in a similar-sized storage container, and line them up buffet style on your table.

Take away. You can have your guests come with food storage containers, or you can have some paper take out boxes on hand (it also helps to have some of those bakery wax squares if you're concerned about germs). A fun craft for kids (and kids at heart) could be to decorate the takeout containers with stickers, pom poms, markers, and stencils.

Swap recipes. As long as it's not Grandma's super-secret ingredient, it's also fun to swap recipes along with cookies. Not only does it let people know what's in them for allergy purposes, but you can recreate your favorites long after your cookie container is empty.

Something sans sugar. All those cookies can cause even the sweetest tooth to crave something savory. Have some veggies, dips, crackers, and other nibbles around so that no one has a sugar crash. It goes without saying, but festive beverages (boozy or not) are also appreciated!

Create some competition. To bring out the (good-natured) fight in your friends, raise the stakes. We have an awesome prize for Best Cookie each year, but you could also add more categories like "Most Festive" or "Most Ambitious." Silly trophies, a cookie-emblazoned crown, or even gift cards to neighborhood bakeries would make fun prizes.

Since you're super-psyched to host your own cookie swap, here are some sweet recipes from The Kitchn:

18 Cookie Recipes for the Holidays
Easy, Yummy and Fun! 10 Kid-Friendly Cookie Recipes
Gluten-Free Recipe: No-Bake Sesame Coconut Ginger Cookies
8 Festive Vegan Cookie Recipes

Hosted a cookie swap before? Share your tips in the comments!

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(Image credits: Tara Bellucci/Boston Food Swap; Mike Goldsmith Photography for Boston Food Swap; As linked above)