The Holiday Cookie Exchange Party: Trays, Traditions & Taboo

December 5, 2011

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I’ve attended a cookie exchange party. I’m not sure if this is a Texas thing, or a Southern thing… I thought it was just a Holiday thing that everyone does…but apparently, it’s not. Kind of like when you first learn that not everyone’s great uncle wears a toga to Easter brunch. (Yours doesn’t? Weird.) It’s like that.

Here’s how it works: You bake a large batch of cookies, sort the cookies for distribution (for instance, you make 15 sacks with 1/2 dozen cookies in each), and bring them to a party. And 10-20 other people do the same thing. So you go home with a billion different cookies of various kinds. It’s this weird cookie math.

I think this idea started by some smart people who wanted lots of choice on their Holiday cookie trays without having to bake a million kinds. What’s a Holiday cookie tray, you ask? This might be a Southern thing too.

See, back in the day, every house had these fantastic cookie trays full of different kinds of cookies to offer people as they came over for gatherings, or dropped by to visit, or whatever people used to do. My grandmother always had these slammin cookie collections, at the ready, in case Hattie, Stella or Mabel Claire (all actual relatives and my grandmother’s bffs) came over for coffee. Or in case some farmer stopped by because his cow wandered onto their land. Or in case the grandchildren descended, as we did almost every day. Especially during cookie tray season.

It’s a super old fashioned way of rocking out Christmas, and I love it.

When I lived in Houston, my friend Cassie always held one (and she’s from Maryland, and they celebrate Hanukkah) and now that I’m back in Central Texas, I get to go to my Sister-in-Law’s annual cookiepalooza. So great. If I didn’t have swell people in my life who throw these, I would totally do it. It’s easy, traditional, practical, and a great reason to get together and sip mulled wine. And play Taboo. Because that’s also what we did this year, and I forgot how fun that game is.

Here’s my favorite easy holiday cookie party recipe, and here are some others I want to try. (But honestly, the best recipe I discovered at this gathering: The Shrimp & Grits Tarts appetizer that my SIL made. Amazing.)

Do you go to a cookie exchange? Have you ever heard of these? Are you into it? Or confused why they exist?

You Might Also Like


  • Reply I Went to a Cookie Party & Came Back with an Even Better Recipe: Shrimp & Grits Tarts. | Blog con Queso December 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

    […] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}This weekend, I went to a cookie exchange party at my sister-in-law’s (and brother’s) house. As happens at cookie exchange parties, I […]

  • Reply Gina aka Slappy December 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I want to go to a cookie exchange !!!

  • Reply Roxanna (miguelina) December 7, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I’m invited to one, but I’m afraid of coming home with three dozen types of cookies. I really am, because I don’t like to share.

  • Reply Mya Maternity December 14, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I have never heard of that but that is a great idea. Might have to start that in the midwest.

  • Reply Jessie December 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I love cookie exchanges! My family did one with families from our play group when I was little, and (especially as a kid) it was the best thing ever. Maybe I should start one up with my other post-college friends… (PS-I’m from St. Louis, so I guess the tradition’s found its way out of Texas, at least a little.)

  • Reply kristine December 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I live in Michigan and I have had cookie exchanges with people I work and with friends. Its alot of fun and a great way to get variety without overloading on cookies. There is even a website devoted to holding cookie exchage parties along with recipes!

  • Leave a Reply