Host a Socially Distanced Holiday Cookie Exchange

Cookies are a staple of the holiday season — whether your favorite is iced sugar in seasonal shapes, buttery Italian wedding, or festive candy cane shortbread, most families have a favorite cookie tradition that triggers positive memories of past holidays. One fun way to have an abundance of cookies over the holidays without having to bake dozens of different kinds yourself is by participating in a cookie exchange. 

If you aren’t familiar, the concept of a cookie exchange is simple. Participants bake a few dozen of a certain type of cookie or sweet, then everyone gets together and fills a box with a variety of items to take home. The COVID-19 pandemic may change the way cookie exchanges are handled this year, but you can still have an enjoyable cookie swap as long as you do it safely. Here are some ideas to have a socially distanced holiday cookie swap party. 

Set Guidelines & Invite Participants

First, decide who to include in the cookie exchange. Think about your friends and family who enjoy baking, and make you list. 

Next, decide on any safety precautions you require everyone to take due to the pandemic. While COVID does not seem to spread through food, you may want everyone to wear gloves and masks while baking. It’s up to you and your group to decide what makes them feel safest. 

As for the types of cookies, organizers can either give out assignments, let the participants surprise everyone, or have each participant announce what they’ll make and change plans if there will be duplicate items. Some exchanges are strictly cookie-only, while others allow for homemade candy and pastries. 

The quantity of cookies depends on the number of participants. Ask guests to bake enough so that each guest can receive whatever amount you decide is feasible for the group; set reasonable expectations that don’t cause any stress in what is usually a busy time of year! A half-dozen to a dozen per guest is a common amount. 

Hosting the Exchange

In any other year, a seasonal cookie exchange party is a perfect reason to get together and socialize while guests pack up cookies to take home. This year hosts need to plan the exchange based on everyone’s comfort level. 

In-Person Exchange

Invite your friends to meet outside — host the exchange in your yard, or at a park. Minimize risk by asking each baker to wear a mask and gloves and pre-package their cookies in separate boxes or bags for each person. Set the individual, pre-packaged portions on a table or spread on a blanket. Each person can take turns collecting their packages of baked goods, and practice social distancing of 6-feet throughout the exchange. 

Delivery & Virtual Party

If your group isn’t comfortable meeting in person, arrange for everyone to do porch-drop offs. Cookies can be given to one volunteer who will then deliver all pre-packaged cookies to each person. 

Plan an online virtual party for after the cookies are delivered. Gather everyone online over Zoom, Google Meet, or any free virtual conference software and have a cookie tasting. Have a dress-up theme or fun background decorations to make it as special as if you were together in person!

Whether you are continuing an old tradition — or starting a new one — have fun and take the necessary safety precautions. You can still have a fabulous holiday cookie exchange, just done in a very 2020 style!

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