Hosting a Cookie Exchange (and Allergy-Friendly Cookie Options)

Jennifer December 4, 2013

Hosting a Cookie Exchange - Modern Alternative Mama

Images by GAPS Diet Journey (Picture 1) (Picture 2) and Loving Our Guts

By Julia Mangan, Contributing Writer

It’s that time of year: Christmas Cookie Time! If you love enjoying a wide variety of different homemade cookies but don’t enjoy the amount of time it takes to make them, why not host a cookie exchange this year? If you prefer to have a healthier, or perhaps more allergy-friendly, exchange, check out the bottom of this post for gluten-free as well as sugar-free Christmas cookie recipes.

The Rules

You may want to set some ground rules for a smooth and successful cookie exchange. Of course, if rules aren’t your style, feel free to wing it! You know your guests best. But, if you do want some structure, see below. (You can also check out Robin Olson’s full rules at or her book The Cookie Party Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Cookie Exchange.)

  • Decide if you want to limit the type of cookies you want at your exchange. For instance, you may want only Christmas type cookies (for instance, no chocolate chip, etc) or perhaps you only want gluten-free cookies.
  • Determine how many cookies each person should bring. They will be taking home as many as they bring. (Robin Olson suggests 6 dozen.)
  • Do you prefer that everyone bring homemade cookies? Make that known! If you don’t want any no bakes and prefer each guest spends around the same amount of time and effort, you will want to include that info. If it doesn’t matter to you as much, than skip it.
  • It’s probably a good idea to have everyone bring a container to take their cookies home in.

The Tips

For the best results, here are some tips to ensure cookie success! (For the rest of Robin Olson’s baking tips, see

  • Using parchment paper to line your cookie sheet will insure they don’t stick to the pan and will help you avoid over browning the bottoms of your cookies.
  • Plan on baking your cookies for the exchange two to four days before. The cookies should sit out over night to release excess moisture. Store in airtight tins in between layers of wax paper and they will last up to a few weeks and remain fresh. Just make sure to keep them in a cool, dry place.
  • Cool your cookies on a cooling rack overnight with a sheet of wax paper loosely over them. This will ensure all of the moisture is released and will help your cookies to remain fresh for about 3 weeks.

The Recipes

I’ve curated a list of gluten-free and sugar-free Christmas cookie recipes for those who are in need of these types of recipes. There are also 3 cookbooks that include gluten-free and sugar-free recipes.

Image by Real Food Whole Health

Gluten-Free & Sugar-Free Cookbooks

Sweeter Side of Candida

Smart Sweets

Treat Yourself: Real Food Desserts

Gluten-Free & Sugar-Free Christmas Cookie Recipes

Date and Nut Bars from Loving Our Guts

Cut-Out Cookies from Loving Our Guts

Thumbprint Cookies from Loving Our Guts

White Chocolate Peppermint Truffles from Loving Our Guts

Coconut Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs from Life Made Full

Gingerbread Cookies from Nourish with Karen

Nut Butter Cookies from Intentionally Domestic

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Intentionally Domestic

Sugar Cookies from Intentionally Domestic

Cookie Cutter Cookies from GAPS Diet Journey

Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cookies (Not Sugar-Free) from Megan Lierman

Honey Toffee Shortbread from The Sour Path is the Sweetest

Holiday Roll Out Cookies from Real Food Forager

Bourbon Balls from Real Food Whole Health

Ginger Snaps (Not Sugar-Free) from Real Food Whole Health

Sand Tarts (Not Sugar-Free) from Real Food Whole Health


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  1. Thanks for sharing my coconut sugar cookie cutouts!


  2. […] written over at Modern Alternative Mama about hosting a cookie exchange. I share some rules you might want to adopt as well as some baking tips to pass along to your […]


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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