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Organizing a holiday cookie exchange

Cookie exchanges are very fun and tasty events and you can set one up with just a few or several people. Cookie exchanges work well for families, friends, co-workers, women groups, church groups, or couples (men love cookies, so don’t leave them out). You could even have a children’s cookie exchange where they make/bake/trade the cookies that day.

Your cookie exchange can be as formal or as casual as you’d like to make it. You can send out invitations inviting a group of friends to the event, such as sending a cookie-themed invitation requesting an RSVP. Or you can simply call or e-mail your family and friends to pick a date that works for everyone. Invite a lot more than you think will show up, and don’t be hurt even if several who RSVP’d drop out and don’t attend at the last minute. This is a very busy time of the year.

Either way, make sure and plan ahead so that your exchange is not too near the holidays or you may find people dropping out at the last minute if they feel overwhelmed with activities. Some people who do an annual cookie exchange set a certain weekend each year, such as the first Saturday of December so that it becomes a tradition.

Ask each person to bake and bring four dozen (or whatever amount you set) of their favorite homemade cookies. The more people attending, the less of each type of cookie you’ll take home, but you’ll still be taking home about the same number of cookies that you bring.

It’s nice to go around the table and introduce everyone, asking each guest to share any special stories about their cookie recipe.

Once everyone arrives and you know how many dozen cookies you have, with a little math skills you can figure out how many cookies each person should pick up and place in their box or container. If 10 people attend and each brings four dozen cookies, then each person would pick up at least four cookies of each of the 10 different types of cookies, with a few leftovers for sharing. With larger quantities, you can also go around the table and pick up two cookies from each container, and continue until they are all gone.

Ask each person to also bring along a certain number of printed copies of their cookie recipe to share with those attending, with their name on the recipe. Suggest that each person also bring another empty container for the cookies they’ll be taking home.

The host will want to have drinks available such as milk, coffee, tea, hot cider, or punch, because you will likely want to taste the cookies and rave about each other’s recipes while there. If you don’t want to taste the cookies while there, another suggestion is to serve hors d’oeuvres at the party and only swap the cookies but not taste them while there.

Don’t forget to take photos of your festive spread of colorful cookies before they are divided, along with some group people shots. You’ll look back with warm memories on this event for years to come.

What a great way to enjoy lots of different cookies while only baking one type. You can be guaranteed these cookies will bring a smile on a cold winter night.

For more great tips, Google “cookie exchange” or go to, which offers up lots of useful advice.

Here is a baker’s dozen of additional cookie recipes submitted by our readers:


1 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups + 8 Tablespoons flour, sifted
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup macadamia nuts

Cream shortening, sugars, eggs, baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Add flour. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts by hand. Spoon onto cookie sheets with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Take out of oven and leave on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Finish cooling off the cookie sheet. Makes 5 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Corrinne Rainville

“This recipe is a combination of my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe and my mother’s favorite cookie recipe, white chocolate macadamia cookies. It is a simple recipe to make, and the combination of the semisweet chips, white chocolate chips, and the macadamia nuts provides an oh-so-yummy, salty-sweet combination.”


1-1/4 cups shortening
1/3 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups molasses
1 egg
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk

Beat shortening and brown sugar together until light. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla and beat well. Sift spices and 2 cups flour together and add to shortening mixture. Add boiling water and mix. Stir in 1 cup flour and mix well. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Sift remaining 2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt and stir into the cooled dough. Return to refrigerator at least 1 hour. Roll out grapefruit-sized portion of the dough at a time, keeping the remainder cold. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness, using as little flour as possible under dough to keep from sticking. Cut cookies and bake on greased cookie sheet in 350º oven for 12-15 minutes until set but not browned. Remove from cookie sheet to a platter and cool.

For frosting, mix butter, sugar, and add milk a little at a time, up to 1/4 cup, until desired consistency. Drizzle over cookies in a fun pattern with a spoon. Makes 8 dozen, 2-1/2” diameter cookies.

Recipe submitted by Amy Gilley
Salt River Electric Cooperative

“This is my mother-in-law’s most requested cookie at Christmastime. No one leaves without getting a doggie bag of cookies, and some are consumed before ever reaching home.”


2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup light syrup
1 cup brown sugar
4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 (6 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1 (6 oz.) pkg. butterscotch chips
1 cup Spanish peanuts
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13-inch pan. Melt margarine in large bowl. Add brown sugar and syrup, stirring to mix. Add oatmeal and stir to coat. Press into greased pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in microwave. Add peanut butter and peanuts and stir to mix. Spread over cooled crust. Cool again and cut into squares. Put into refrigerator. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Pam Jennings
Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation

“I went to a garden club expo where this cookie bar was served. I ate so many I was ashamed. The lady that made them later called me and gave me the recipe. She said they had no name so I gave them the name of Yummy For My Tummy. I think they taste like a Baby Ruth and Snickers candy bar combined.”


1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup raisins
3 cups oats
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a two-quart saucepan melt butter or margarine, add evaporated milk, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil for 1 -1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, raisins, oats, and vanilla. Mix well, then drop by tablespoons onto wax paper. Cool for approximately 6 hours. Makes 2-1/2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Margaret Thrasher
South Kentucky RECC

“Our children’s favorite cookies during the 1960s were chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies. At bedtime one of the children would say, “I need 2 dozen cookies for school in the morning.” So the no-bake oatmeal cookie was the answer. Not being a chocolate lover, I changed it to a caramel recipe and it is my favorite.”


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
48 maraschino cherries (10-oz. jar)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°. In a bowl, combine flour and cocoa, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually beat flour into mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down center of cookie with the thumb. Drain cherries, reserving juice. Place a cherry on center of each cookie.

For frosting, in a small saucepan combine chocolate pieces and condensed milk. Heat until chocolate melts. Stir in 4 teaspoons of reserved cherry juice.

Spoon about 1 teaspoon of frosting over each cherry, spreading to cover the cherry (if necessary, thin frosting with additional cherry juice). Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes until edges are firm. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to wire rack for cooling.

To store, place in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 4 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Aubuary Phillips
Warren RECC

“My husband’s favorite candy is chocolate covered cherries. This recipe is an excellent substitute. That is why it’s the favorite cookie at our house. They are really a big hit at Christmas.”


4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup cooking oil
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup golden raisins

Mix oatmeal, brown sugar, and oil. Let stand. Preheat oven to 325°. Blend rest of ingredients into oatmeal mixture. Drop with spoon onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until light brown. Cool completely before removing from pan. Note: Cooling is very important for this cookie. Foil on the baking sheet works well for easier removal. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Garnetta Mitchell
Kenergy Cooperative

“This recipe was given to me 30 years ago by a Sunday school class member. It has been a family favorite ever since. I bake these for my dentist for his birthday and for Christmas. His office staff loves these cookies.”


1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
Candied cherries

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar thoroughly, beating and adding sugar a little at a time. Blend in egg yolks and vanilla, set aside. Sift flour and salt; add to creamed mixture, blending well with mixer. Dough will be very thick. Chill dough for ease in handling.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat egg whites slightly, adding 1/2 teaspoon of water, set aside. Chop the pecans finely and set aside.

When dough is chilled, shape into small 3/4-inch balls. Dip each ball quickly into egg whites, then roll in chopped pecans. (Hint: Scoop 2 to 3 tablespoons of pecans at a time into a separate dish and roll the cookie balls around in it.) Place balls 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie pan as you work, until all are prepared. Cut candied cherries in half and place one half on top of each cookie, pressing down lightly. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. For softer cookies, be careful not to overbake. Also watch cookies carefully as oven temperatures vary and you don’t want pecans to become too brown. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Vada L. Johnson
Nolin RECC

“I have made this cookie recipe every Christmas for over 30 years for my family. It makes a delicious, cake-like cookie that disappears from the platter quick as a wink. I always make enough so my three grown children can take some home with them.”


3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
1 cup butter
1-1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup dark Karo syrup
1 egg
1 Tablespoon cream
Maraschino cherries

Nut Filling

1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoons cherry juice
1-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sift together flour, soda, salt, ginger, and coffee. Cream together butter and brown sugar. Blend in Karo syrup, egg, and cream. Then add dry ingredients and mix well. Roll out dough, one third at a time, on floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 2-1/2-inch rounds. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.

Combine ingredients for nut filling. Place 1/2 teaspoon of filling in center of each round. Shape into bells by folding sides of dough to meet over filling. Make top of bell more narrow than clapper end in order to make bell-shaped cookie. Place one-half of a cherry at open end of bottom of clapper. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Dani Hawthorne
Blue Grass Energy Cooperative

“This Christmas Bell Cookie recipe is my favorite. It brings back wonderful childhood memories of my mother and me baking them for the holidays. The aroma of these cookies baking is mouth-watering. They not only are beautiful, but they taste great.”


1 cup grated zucchini, packed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix zucchini, sugar, margarine, egg, soda, and vanilla. Add flour, salt, spices, cocoa, and chocolate chips. Mix and drop on cookie sheet by teaspoon. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Carmen Pigram
Shelby Energy Cooperative

“This is one of my favorite cookie recipes because it helps me use up some of my zucchini in our garden and it is chocolate.”


2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons baking soda

Cream shortening, brown sugar, and eggs, then add lemon flavor. Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to shortening mixture. Roll in small balls. Dip fork in flour and press each cookie flat in each direction, making crisscross marks. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Makes 5 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Nancy Beck
Clark Energy Cooperative

“My mom died last December at age 98. She made these cookies for us when we were growing up. They were her favorite and have become my favorite.”


2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/4 cups white sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Beat eggs in mixing bowl. Add both kinds of sugar, then add melted butter (but don’t let it be hot or it will cook your eggs). Mix together well. Then add flour and cinnamon, mixing well. Grease a cookie sheet. Drop by spoonful on cookie sheet, spacing about 1/2 inch apart. They will be flat and somewhat square. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350°. When done, if you like more cinnamon, sprinkle on top of cookies. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Ericka Patrick, age 13
Licking Valley RECC

“This is my favorite because I made the recipe up. My mom was afraid I’d make a mess, but she let me make them. I shared them with my mom and two sisters and they liked them. I took my mamaw and papaw some and they also liked them. My papaw asked me to make him some more.”


Non-stick cooking spray
2 (8oz.) pkgs. red and green candied cherries
1 (8 oz) pkg. assorted color candied pineapple
1 cup raisins
1 cup English walnuts, chopped
1 cup pecans
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 stick margarine, softened
1 cup light-brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°. Coat cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine candied fruit, raisins, walnuts, pecans, and 1/2 cup flour. Toss until evenly coated, then set aside.

In another large bowl, cream the margarine and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and milk. Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg, beating until well-blended. Stir in the fruit mixture, stirring to mix well, and drop by teaspoon, placing 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Anna M. McGehee
Meade County RECC

“This fruitcake cookie recipe is my favorite Christmas cookie recipe. It is pretty in color and helps to entice the Christmas spirit. It has a very pleasing taste and satisfies the most demanding appetite.”


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup maple syrup, preferably grade B
1 large egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and granulated sugar. Add 1/2 cup maple syrup and egg yolk; mix until well-combined. Sift together flour and salt over mixture and mix in thoroughly. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

For glaze, in a medium bowl whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup and powdered sugar until smooth, adding more maple syrup for piping consistency, if necessary. Cover tightly with plastic and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 4 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. Set pans aside. Remove half the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a leaf-shaped cookie cutter, 4 to 5 inches in size, cut out cookies and transfer to prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 1/2 inch apart. Chill any trimming, and roll out again. Repeat process with remaining half of dough. If desired, use the back of a paring knife to score veins on leaves.

Bake cookies until light golden around edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer baking pans to a wire rack for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, remove cookies from pans to a wire rack to cool. Using a small spatula, spread a small amount of the reserved maple mixture onto the cooled cookies, or pipe maple mixture in desired manner. Makes 4 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Michelle Lazzard
Blue Grass Energy Cooperative

“This cookie recipe is a tribute to fall, both to the changing leaves and to the sap drained from the maple trees to be boiled into syrup. These cookies require a grade B maple syrup (which has a more intense taste than grade A) and can be cut into festive leaf shapes. Once baked, serve them plain or cover with a rich maple glaze.”

To read the Kentucky Living December 2008 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Holiday Cookie Exchange.

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