What’s better than sipping wine and trading cookies with friends? Now that baking season has arrived, these are some of my best cookies for a cookie exchange party. From easy one-bowl cookies to frosted show-stoppers, everyone will be asking for these recipes!

Cookies for a cookie exchange party | A Christmas tree plate with molasses cookies on a white marble counter next to mugs of hot chocolate, a white bowl of popcorn, and candy canes.

As someone who loves baking and get-togethers, throwing an entire party about cookies is peak thriving. And of course, now that it’s the season of giving, I am so excited to share this year’s holiday treats with all of my friends and family!

If you’re looking for a new recipe to try out, might I suggest a few? These cookies aren’t just my favorites, they’re also tried-and-true recipes that are well-loved by my friends, family, co-workers, and strangers on the internet!

Not attending a cookie swap this year? All good. These recipes are also great for holiday parties, Christmas movie nights, or Santa’s plate.

Pecan Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing

A pecan sugar cookie with maple icing decorated like a wreath leaning against a tan mug on a brown counter next to garland and more cookies.

We’re starting off strong with these buttery pecan cookies! They are soft, toasty, nutty, and brighten up any cookie box. Also, the maple icing is ridiculously good, definitely don’t skip it! And even though they look fancy, the wreath decoration is actually super easy to make. All you need is piping bags and a toothpick! If you love decorating cookies, this recipe is the way to go.

Chewy Coffee Cookies

Cookies for a Cookie Exchange Party | Stacks of chewy coffee cookies on a white counter.

This is one of the most popular cookies on my blog! And that’s why it’s one of my favorite Christmas cookie exchange recipes. These cookies are crisp on the edges, chewy in the center, and taste like a latte. With coffee, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla, they are flavorful, simple to make, and come together in one bowl. If you’re a coffee lover, you need to try these ASAP.

Cardamom Gingerbread Cookies with Orange Glaze

Three white plates of cardamom gingerbread cookies on a white counter next to garland and a white linen.

This recipe pops off around the holidays every single year. They’re always a hit! With molasses, cardamom, and orange glaze, these stamped gingerbread cookies aren’t just pretty, they pack lots of flavor too. And, we can’t move on without talking about those gorgeous designs thanks to cast iron cookie stamps. But don’t worry if you don’t have any, you can make these without stamps of course!

Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter

Cookies for a Cookie Exchange Party | Pecan chocolate chip cookies with brown butter on a tan counter next to brown bowls of flaky salt and pecans.

Is it even a cookie party without chocolate chip cookies? This pecan version is a unique twist on the classic cookie! With toasty brown butter, semisweet chocolate puddles, and flaky salt, they’re soft, chewy, and unforgettable. You can also replace the nuts with walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts. Don’t miss out on these, you’re going to love them!

Eggnog Cookies with Boozy Glaze

A stack of eggnog cookies tied with baking string on a white counter next to garland.

It’s just not the holidays without a little eggnog. These buttery shortbread cookies are inspired by the classic holiday drink with nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Then, they’re glazed with a whiskey-spiked eggnog icing to really get the party started! But no worries – if you don’t drink or you’re making these cookies for kiddos, feel free to leave out the alcohol.

Cardamom Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

Stacks and rows of cardamom chocolate chunk shortbread cookies on a grey counter.

A version of these cookies made their round on the internet a few years ago, but the hint of cardamom makes them feel a little extra Christmasy. If you’re a fan of buttery, crunchy cookies over soft and chewy, then you definitely need to make these! With chocolate chunks, freshly-ground cardamom, vanilla bean paste, and crunchy sugared edges, these cookies have it all.

Chewy Molasses Crinkle Cookies

Cookies for a Cookie Exchange | A stack of chewy molasses crinkle cookies on a wire rack next to cinnamon sticks, garland, and a tan linen on a wood table.

I’m not advocating for you to bake just one cookie this year. But, if you’re going to, make it these molasses cookies. With crackly, sugared outsides, chewy centers, and cozy spices, these cookies taste like pure Christmas! As a bonus, they are easy and come together in just a few minutes. No piping bags, cookie cutters, or fancy molds required.

Brown Butter Peanut M&M Cookies

Stacks and rows of brown butter peanut M&M cookies on a white counter.

Basic M&M cookies get a major upgrade with brown butter, crunchy peanuts, and semisweet chocolate chips! While the colorful candies are a nice touch, you can also decorate them for the holidays with seasonal M&Ms. And while they’re super kid-friendly, the grown ups will love them just as much! They’re chewy, nutty, toasty, and amazingly delicious.

The Best Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Cookies for a Cookie Exchange Party | a woman's hands breaking a chocolate gingerbread cookie on a white counter next to garland, a red plate of cookies, a white platter of cookies, and a grey mug of coffee.

These cookies essentially taste like if gingerbread and a brownie had a baby. They are so good! With a hint of spice, fudgy centers, and sparkly sugared edges, they’re pretty and decadent. Even better, these cookies stay fresh for days thanks to the molasses and brown sugar. If you’re baking for chocolate lovers, you’re definitely going to want to add these to your list of cookie exchange recipes!

Shortbread Linzer Cookies

Piles of shortbread linzer cookies with raspberry jam on a white counter next to a white plate of cookies.

Lemon and vanilla bring a hint of brightness to these simple shortbread cookies. With raspberry jam centers, they’re a fruity welcome to the rich, spicy flavors that the holidays bring. But also, these cookies are also totally customizable! Use Christmas cookie cutters to punch out the centers, or swap the raspberry jam with chocolate hazelnut spread, lemon curd, and more!

Mocha Crinkle Cookies

Mocha crinkle cookies on a wire rack next to white mugs of coffee, a red plaid linen, and garland on a wood background.

What are the holidays without the notorious crinkle cookie? This recipe takes things up a notch with just a hint of coffee flavor! These cookies have meringue-like shells, fudgy centers, and they’re reminiscent of a cozy mocha from your go-to coffee shop. And don’t worry, there’s no melting powdered sugar thanks to a secret trick I learned in pastry school.

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Cookies

Cookies for a Cookie Exchange | Rows of bone-shaped peanut butter dog cookies on a marble counter.

We would be remiss if we forgot about the fur babies. These homemade peanut butter dog cookies are a total hit with puppies! Made with just five wholesome ingredients, they’re quick, easy, and dogs go crazy for them. I love bringing these to parties for my friends’ dogs or keeping a stash in the freezer for my greyhound, Bertie!

Cookie Party FAQs

What is a cookie exchange?

Simply put, a cookie exchange (or cookie swap) is a holiday party where friends and family get together to share their homemade baked goods! It’s a good way to enjoy a variety of Christmas treats without having to bake them all. But, I also love these parties, because I get the chance to try my friends’ “family tradition” recipes!

How many cookies should I make?

That totally depends on the party you’re going to! Some cookie exchanges share 2-4 cookies per person and some make as many as a dozen per person. So definitely make sure to check-in with the party host to see how many cookies you need to bake!

How should I package the cookies?

Again, this will depend on the party but you can honestly get as elaborate as you like. Here are a few ways I’ve done it in the past:

  • Cookie Boxes – stack different cookies and treats in mini cookie boxes to give away at the party. This is my favorite way to serve cookies if I’m making multiple recipes. (Which I usually am since I’m always baking for the blog lol.)
  • Decorative Bags – place cookies in decorative food-safe bags and tie them with ribbons or baker’s string. I personally like greaseproof paper bags but cellophane works too. These gingerbread house bags are the cutest!
  • Grab-and-go – at some parties, everyone brings their own storage containers. For these parties, I just stack my cookies in airtight containers or pretty boxes and bring some tongs! Then, everyone can grab the cookies they want and store them in their own containers.

What food should I serve at a cookie party?

With all the sugar at a cookie swap, it’s nice to have a few savory options for guests to snack on. Try making a Christmas tree charcuterie board, cranberry orange cheese balls, little smokies in a blanket with puff pastry, or beef Wellington bites. So good!

xo Sara Lynn

Song of the day – Winter Wonderland by Tony Bennett