I have always wanted to do a cookie exchange at Christmas time, but have fallen short on people to do it, time to make cookies, and/or I was really watching what I was eating so skipped on holiday treats all together. So yes, I have never engaged in a cookie exchange, but thought of some ideas that could help others who do have exchanges.
Exchange Idea #1: Each person makes two types of cookies
Each person can sign-up to make a cookie of choice (perhaps their favorite or specialty or well-known for cookie) as well as a cookie from an assigned category. Having people make their second cookie from an assigned category will help ensure a wider variety of cookies.
Cookie categories can include:
-fancy (or hard/expert level)
-low or no sugar added
Exchange Idea #2: Some people make all their holiday cookies then freeze their extra cookies for later consumption. Instead of freezing them after they have been cooked, consider doing a cookie exchange with half the exchange being pre-cooked and decorated cookies and the other half being cookie dough balls that can be put in the freezer then baked when ready for consumption. This is a great idea for people who try not to eat sweets often or for those who don't get out their baking tools often. The dough also makes a great gift-giving idea if you want to do something homemade.
Exchange Idea #3: Use your cookie exchange as a fun social event with some close friends. Instead of the exchange just being about swapping cookies, you can make the cookies with your friends and share the recipes. You can feel like a little kid again...or have some wine for a big girls day!
Exchange Idea #4: For some people baking the cookies is the easy part, but taking the time to ice and decorate is the tricky part. Part of your cookie exchange can be a decorating party that everyone can sit around sharing sprinkles, icings, colorings, techniques and good times. I would be much more likely to have a cute cookie if I coupled my effort of decorating with a more appealing task of spending time with friends and family while doing it.
Exchange Idea #5: Instead of exchanging your cookies for personal/family consumption, consider donating your cookies to local homeless shelters, food pantries (if they will accept non-commercially packaged foods), or local cookie sales that proceeds are donated to churches or other causes.