Don't Be The Villain Of Your Cookie Exchange

Whether you're the host or the guest, here are some tips on how not to ruin everyone's night.

With the holiday season now in full swing, perhaps you are looking forward to wowing your loved ones at the annual cookie exchange. If that's what you're into, we have plenty of ideas, lessons, and professional advice for making the most of your seasonal baking.

But maybe you're different. Perhaps you just want to watch the world burn. For the chaotic evil among us, here are some ways to be the guaranteed villain of the exchange.

Tips for how to ruin the cookie exchange (as a host)

  • As the organizer of such an important holiday event, you'll want to make this a night to remember—not amateur hour. Only request the attendance of your most talented friends, making sure that anyone who would have opted for bringing a batch of 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies is banished from the guest list.
  • Demand that everyone bake several dozen of each variety of cookie they plan to bring. This ensures that at the end of the night, everyone gets enough cookies to regift all the ones they don't like (host included).
  • People love watching The Great British Bake-Off, so why not make them feel as though they're the harried contestants and you're the Paul Hollywood and the Prue Leith all in one? Suggest some sort of ingredient challenge to throw everyone off, such as "No chocolate chips" or "Raisins in everything." Explain that only Star Bakers will be permitted to stay.
  • To avoid the humiliating scenario of having duplicate cookies on offer, assign cookie recipes to your guests and make sure that those assignments have been followed by checking everyone's creations at the door. Those who didn't follow directions needn't be allowed to attend the festivities. Following rules is half the fun.
  • Timing is everything. Since everyone deserves to nibble on cookies that are as fresh as possible, why not host your swap on Christmas Eve? Your friends, work colleagues, and neighbors will appreciate that you have prioritized cookie quality over the quality time they could be spending with their families.

Tips for how to ruin the cookie exchange (as a guest)

  • Arrive fashionably late. This gives you the chance to set your cookies down, survey the spread, and note how charming it is that everyone else decided to go with something really simple this year.
  • Make something, anything, with mint. Mint flavoring notoriously permeates everything it touches, meaning that all other desserts, from the rum balls to the jam thumbprints, will leave the party with a vague note of toothpaste clinging to them. Only your batch of cookies will taste the way it should. Victory shall be yours.
  • The host might have sent out explicit instructions about how many dozen cookies to make so everyone can take home each cookie, but scarcity drives up value, and you have a valuable product. Don't give in to convention.
  • Bring your cookies to the party on a decorative porcelain platter. That's much prettier than plastic Ziploc containers. If at the end of the night you require something with a lid for easier transport, well, it's the host's job to provide you with absolutely everything you need (and you should make them aware of that fact).
  • Since you've likely been to a few cookie exchanges already this season, you're full of valuable intel: Regale your fellow guests with tales of the lovely cookies you encountered at those other parties, and explain what makes them superior to what's on offer in this evening's spread.
  • Try your hand at vegan cookies. This is your chance to provide a cruelty-free option for attendees and supply them with plenty of information about all the effort you went through to make them that way. If you want to go the extra mile, provide some pamphlets about how conventionally baked cookies are bad for the environment. It's like a party favor!
  • Secret family recipes are, of course, allowed to stay secret, but if you sample someone's cookie and find that it tastes suspiciously similar to the recipe printed on the back of the Toll House bag, you're well within your rights to voice those suspicions within earshot of the baker.
  • Powdered sugar is the perfect snowy topper for a batch of holiday cookies. Be sure to upend at least half a bag onto your finished product.
  • If you'd rather avoid making enemies and head into the holiday season with all your friendships intact, the rules are far simpler: just avoid doing pretty much any of the stuff mentioned above.