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Christmas Cookies: Let's Swap!

This old-fashioned tradition is still a fun holiday favorite

holiday cookies

— Iain Bagwell

For generations, cookie swaps have been one of the eagerly anticipated events of the holiday season. It’s a sweet way to get together with friends: You not only show off your own cookie baking skills but also bring home a tin of your friends’ favorite recipes.

Here are five tips to help your cookie swap go off without a hitch:

Ask each guest to bring enough cookies for everyone at the party to take two cookies home — plus more cookies for eating at the party. If you’re having a dozen friends over, then ask everyone to bring at least two dozen cookies for take-home and another dozen to be eaten at the swap.

Ask your guests to bring their own take-home containers. Or you may simply want to supply plastic bags, disposable storage containers, paper plates and foil — or even a fancy cookie tin so everyone can safely bring their goodies home.

Ask each guest to bring enough printed copies of their recipe so everyone can take one home. Not only will your friends create a little cookie recipe book, but those with dietary concerns can know exactly what each cookie contains.

Make sure you have a table that's large enough for setting out the cookies everyone brings. Lay out a festive tablecloth to set a fun holiday mood. And be sure to have enough platters for displaying the cookies. You can provide index cards for each person to write their name and the name of the cookies to be placed near the serving plates so that everyone at the swap knows who has baked what.

To really help people get in the holiday mood, serve a festive holiday beverage, such as eggnog, mulled cider and spiked cider. And, because nothing goes better with cookies, don’t forget the milk!

To get you inspired, here are some great cookies that are perfect for a cookie swap:

Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger’s Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. These cookies can be soft and chewy or crisp, depending on how long you bake them.

Georgeanne Brennan’s Candy Cane Cookies. These two-toned red and white cookies are especially festive for Christmas.

Gina DePalma’s La Befana’s Stars. These cookies are really fun: star shaped and covered in rainbow sprinkles.

James Beard’s Peanut Butter Cookies. Peanut butter lovers, these cookies are for you.

Regan Daley’s Pecan Caramel Sandwich Cookies. If you’re looking to really impress your friends, these rich sandwich cookies are just the ticket.

Elinor Klivans’ Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies. Not your average chocolate chip cookies, these feature walnuts, pecans and almonds.

Tina Davis’ Gingerbread Men. Gingerbread cookies are nearly mandatory at the holidays, and these cookies shaped like little people are lots of fun to decorate.

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