Cookie Exchange, Anyone?

It was an invitation to a cookie exchange with, let’s say… a little competition component that inspired this shortbread cookie recipe.

And another friend attending the same exchange that said, “Wow… you must feel the pressure!”

Confession: I did.

If you can believe it, this is the first time I’ve attended a cookie exchange. So I did a little investigating. I didn’t want to blow it out of the gate.

This is what I learned… 

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Follow the Rules, Foodie.

A cookie exchange is a wonderful excuse to celebrate the season.

But it’s more than that. It’s designed to be productive too. There are “rules” to be respected.

If you plan to host a cookie exchange this holiday season, honoring the rules and communicating them clearly on your invitation will ensure merry success!


Rule #1: Determine what type of cookie exchange you plan to host.

If your goal is to provide friends with a dozen gifts to take home for friends and family, limit your guest list.

For this type of cookie swap, each guest needs to bring a dozen cookies per guest. Plus a dozen for sampling at the party. 

If your goal is a fun party with some bonus treats to take home… throw the above rule out.

Request that each guest bring enough cookies to take one home and sample one at the party.


Rule #2: Note how many dozen cookies each attendee should bring.

Base the number on the size of your guest list. Hint: it’s okay to trade for your favorites at the party!


Rule #3: Make cookies from scratch.

There’s no cheating in cookie exchanges. Premade, store-bought doughs are a definite don’t.


Rule #4: If there’s a competition component, create categories for the winning recipes.

For example, “tastiest,” “best holiday-themed,” and “most creative.” Use your imagination. And have fun with it.


Rule #5: Ask that each guest bring recipe cards for their cookie.

Provide your guest bakers with guidance for the quantity, based on the size of the guest list.


Rule #6: Don’t forget packaging materials.

Ask your guests to bring packaging, or provide it for your guests to assemble their goodies.

We love white boxes lined with tissue paper, metal tins, and cellophane bags.

Include some ribbon, twine, scissors and gift tags for festive packages.

We like these cool packaging options:

Rule #7: Create a festive exchange + packaging station.

Use a large table to display the cookies and packaging.

Request that your guests provide their cookie choice in advance. Then print menu cards for each display on the table.

Preset the table with varying shapes of platters and heights for a pretty presentation. Designate a section of the table or add a second table for your packaging station, where guests can assemble their treats.

We like these platters, tiered servers, and cake stands:

Rule #8: Serve a light meal or savory appetizers and a beverage.

Our Easy Mulled Wine definitely sets a festive tone to greet guests upon arrival.

Baked Brie with Honey, Dried Cranberries and Walnuts is a wonderful appetizer, alongside lighter choices like veggie platters, hummus… and salty snacks, like our Barbecue Baked Beet Chips.


Rule #9: Bake a Cookie You Personally Love.

And tell its story, if it has one.

Maybe it’s grandma’s famous gingerbread cookie. Or perhaps it’s rooted in a long-standing family tradition.

For my first cookie exchange, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. I love a classic buttery shortbread cookie. Because it tastes delightful.

But it’s more than that.

I think of my mom and my young son. My mom loves shortbread cookies. She’s shared her love of them with my little boy and it’s heartwarming to see them enjoying this special treat together.

This shortbread cookie recipe can be baked in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many of us have our preference.

Even though it’s the same basic cookie dough, shape and size affect texture and the ultimate experience. We like round and rectangular shapes for timeless simplicity.

But creative shapes work great too, provided you choose a substantial size.

For this shortbread cookie recipe, we dipped it in dark chocolate and sprinkled it with Fleur de Sel.

If you’re a shortbread purist, you can skip that step. Or better yet, bring both versions to your next cookie exchange and let the guests vote on their favorite!



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Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies with Sea Salt Yum
Shortbread cookie recipe - Feature Image | Sister Spice
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Course Dessert
Cuisine New American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 17-20 minutes/sheet
Course Dessert
Cuisine New American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 17-20 minutes/sheet
Shortbread cookie recipe - Feature Image | Sister Spice
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
Rate this recipe!
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  1. Place oven rack in the middle position. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract on low in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until just combined. Alternately, use a hand-held mixer to cream.
    Shortbread cookie recipe - step 2 | Sister Spice
  3. Whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the butter and brown sugar mixture. Mix on low until the dough comes together, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
    Shortbread cookie recipe - step 3 | Sister Spice
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press dough into a ball. Divide in half. Press each half into a flattened disc shape about 1 inch thick. Wrap both disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
    Shortbread cookie recipe - step 4 | Sister Spice
  5. Roll dough from first disc evenly to 1/2 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Any cracks in the dough along the edges can be easily pressed together.
    Shortbread cookie recipe - step 5 | Sister Spice
  6. Cut dough with a 1/4 inch dry measuring cup or a 2.5" round cookie cutter. Place rounds about an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature. Repeat with second chilled disk of cookie dough.
    Shortbread cookie recipe - step 6 | Sister Spice
  7. Meanwhile, while the cookies are baking, chop chocolate into fine pieces. After all cookies have cooled, place 1/2 of the chocolate into a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on high. Remove from oven and stir. Add remaining chocolate. Repeat in 15-second increments, stirring each time until chocolate is just melted. Stir well.
    Shortbread cookie recipe - step 7 | Sister Spice
  8. Dip 1/3 to 1/2 cookie into the chocolate mixture. Alternately drizzle chocolate with a spoon on one half. Sprinkle with Fleur de Sel sea salt and place back on parchment lined baking sheet. Leave on the baking sheet until chocolate firms completely.
    Shortbread cookie recipe - step 8 | Sister Spice
Recipe Notes

If you don't have parchment paper, bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet.

After cookies are cut, press remaining dough into a ball. Roll again to 1/2" thickness to cut additional cookies.

Recipe courtesy of 
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