It’s cookie exchange time! Holiday parties typically fill my December calendar, including a cookie exchange or two. I’m sharing my BEST cookie exchange recipes today! But they’re also great for hostess and holiday gifts. 

These are tried and true and some of the Best Christmas Cookies you’ll ever make. Each recipe will guide you through how to make some of my favorite Holiday Cookies Recipes.

Best Christmas Cookie Recipes photo collage with 3 photos and a text box
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Packaging loads of sweet treats is part of our holiday tradition. Bill and Katie deliver all the goodies to our neighbor friends and even a few who have moved out of the hood. Along with an array of cookies, I make fudge, toffee, and peppermint bark. I’d be in deep trouble if I skipped any of the regulars! Many of these were brought to holiday cookie exchanges!

I’ve linked my best cookie exchange recipes for you. I’m down to only one cookie swapping party per year, but I never like to make the same selection twice. I’ve included many of the sweets I make for the holidays plus some winners from past parties. I hope you find some inspiration for your next cookie exchange or for hostess or holiday gifts!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Make Ahead and Freeze these Cookies?

Yes, these cookies will freeze well for up to 3 months if kept airtight. I like to use freezer-grade Ziploc bags and remove all the excess air. If freezing cookies with sticky components like caramel, chill them in the refrigerator before freezing so the caramel solidifies.

You can also freeze dough balls to bake later.

How Can You Display Cookies for the Exchange?

Find a festive platter (look for sales after Christmas) and arrange them artfully. Garnish with something from the recipe if possible like fresh cranberries, cinnamon sticks, or pecans. If you have evergreens in your yard that aren’t sprayed with pesticides, a few small sprigs with a red ribbon looks Christmasy.

Any Tips for Making Holiday Cookies?

Here are some basic cookie making tips:

  • Have all your ingredients at room temperature unless otherwise noted. This is especially important for eggs, butter, and cream cheese to help them incorporate into the dough more easily.
  • Use a cookie disher for even sized cookies.
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment for easy cleanup and no sticking!
  • Cool your baking sheets before reusing.
  • Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven temperature is where it should be.
  • Cool cookies completely before packing them up to store.
Butterscotch Cookies stacked on a white plate


Butterscotch Cookies – Simple chewy cookies flavored with butter and brown sugar will become family favorites!

Cranberry, White Chocolate, Crystallized Ginger Cookies on a square white plate with fresh cranberries


Cranberry, White Chocolate, Crystalized Ginger Cookies – the “snap,” the flavor, the add-ins all make these one of my favorite holiday cookies!

Chewy Gingersnaps on a white plate with cinnamon sticks


Chewy Gingersnaps – these and my English toffee recipe are the top two favorites according to my friends and neighbors who get holiday goodies each year!

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies on a white plate
Caramel Biscoff Blossoms lined up on a white tray
Stained Glass Cookies in a white ceramic dish


Stained Glass Cookies – these beauties are easier than they look! If you can make cut out sugar cookies, you can make these!

Chocolate Cookies with M&M's in a white bowl


Holiday Truffle Cookies – chocolate is always appropriate for Christmas!

Star of Bethlehem Cookies on a red and white holiday tray


Star of Bethlehem Cookies – a twist on Peanut Blossoms for the holidays with chocolate stars added to peanut butter cookies instead of chocolate kisses.

Triple Ginger Snaps on a square white plate with cinnamon sticks


Triple Gingersnaps -for an extra boost of ginger flavor, these gingersnaps have fresh, dried, and crystallized ginger!!! Or for less zing, try the chewy gingersnaps recipe above.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies stacked on a small round white plate

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies are decked out in holiday colors and are one of the most festive Christmas cookies you can make!

Helpful Tools for Making Holiday Cookies:

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This post was first shared in November 2015. Photos and content were updated in 2020.