‘Tis the season to bring out the treasure trove of Grandma’s tried and true cookie recipes to recreate family favorites. That is if your family was practical enough to actually write down the perfect ratios of flour, sugar, and butter for that memorable chocolate chip cookie you remember devouring as a child.

For the record, I don’t think my mother has ever written down a single recipe and if you ask how she made it, she’ll just list off ingredients with haphazard quantity amounts followed by some modifier — like if the dough is just too stiff then add another egg. Embarrassingly enough, this is exactly what I’ve become when friends are kind to complement a dessert I made and then ask for the recipe.

Holiday Cookie exchange

If you haven’t yet been to a holiday cookie exchange, then you’re in for a treat. Not only are these events a total game-changer because they actually force me to write down a recipe, but because you’ll also have the exact recipe for any of your favorites from the other guests.

Here’s how it all goes down — a lovely person will generally host the exchange at their house with a set amount of attendees. Each guest will bring a set amount of packaged homemade cookies with the recipe attached. The cookies are then swapped and everybody leaves with a variety of cookies to take home to share with family & friends. I attended my first holiday cookie exchange a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. Being able to taste other people’s favorite holiday recipes is a perfect embodiment of the season since I’m totally one of those people that believes food is a love language.

If you’re already hosting or attending an exchange this year and need some inspiration, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite (and reliable) cookie recipes that just might inspire a new family tradition.

Chocolate Chip cookies

These are the perfect mix of classic chocolate chip, but with a modernized addition of bittersweet chocolate and sea salt. These are a little bit fussier because they require a rest period, but don’t skimp, the holidays are meant for the best of the best (and a little bit of patience). The result? A perfectly crisp edge with melty chocolate puddles. Trust me, grab a glass of milk and try to save some for your guests.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are perfect for a last-minute get together because the dough comes together in just a few short minutes and you probably already have the ingredients on hand. This recipe is also perfect for the littles because it involves making dough balls, dusting in sugar, and using a fork to create the quintessential indents that make PB cookies instantly recognizable. Just be sure to keep a keen eye on the color of the cookies while baking as the texture is perfect when the edges just begin to set. 


Snickerdoodles are the perfect mix of sugar and spice that everybody loves. This recipe results in cookies that are crispy on the edges, but remain flat with a tender center. Snickerdoodles usually require a little planning since not everybody has the cream of tartar on hand – this ingredient helps both the flavor and texture of the cookie. Double bonus, these cookies will surely make your house smell like the holidays as they bake in the oven. 

holiday cookie exchange

Sugar cookies that need to hold their shape (cut-out cookies) can be quite tricky to make without the right method. The results are totally worth the extra work as this recipe produces a flavorful cookie that doesn’t spread. My son loves being in charge of the cookie cutters as he attempts to assemble cookie cutters into an array of puzzle pieces to use all of the sheeted dough. These are the perfect basic sugar cookies that will make your holiday plate stand out, with or without any decorative embellishments. 

gingerbread cookies

This recipe produces the classic flavors of ginger and cloves in the perfect bite-size morsels. For those of us still mad at Starbucks for not bringing back the Gingerbread Latte this year, these cookies bring just a bit of extra holiday happiness. Similar to the decorated sugar cookies, I have fond memories of spending time in the kitchen as a kid painstakingly decorating personalized gingerbread cookies to give to friends and family. My son would rather turn the gingerbread into a version of the cyclops, but to each their own. 

These classic cookie recipes will be the perfect addition to any holiday cookie exchange. What are your favorite cookie recipes? 

Previous articleA Slacker Mom’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays
Next articleHoliday Bucket List + Free Printable
Kerri H
Kerri is a new Floridian, having relocated from Chicago to Saint Augustine less than two short years ago. She just celebrated her sixth wedding anniversary with her Disney obsessed husband, Matthew. They met on the first day of freshman year at DePaul University and have been inseparable ever since. Kerri graduated with her B.A. in English & Dramaturgy and M.A. in Technical Communications. She loves learning a little bit about everything by doing freelance writing/editing projects and giving back via non-profit grant writing. Now a mother of two, she celebrates her September babies, Elliot and June. On any given weekend in Saint Augustine, you’ll likely find her drinking all the coffee while watching her son’s baseball game or looking for shark’s teeth at Mickler’s landing.


Comments are closed.