Plan a party and share a bounty of baked goodies.

As holiday traditions go, attending or hosting a cookie swap is a great way to multitask-offering a chance to get together and exchange tokens with friends during the busy season, as well as a way to shortcut your holiday baking.

All you need to do for a successful cookie swap is prepare a bunch of your favorite cookies and then exchange them and the recipe with other partygoers who have brought their own favorite treats. It's an easy party to throw, especially when you follow our tips and advice. We have a variety of tasty recipes for portable, packable cookies that are ideal for this type of party, plus some ideas for nibbles to serve guests.

Five Steps to Hosting a Cookie Swap

Plan early. People are more likely to attend if you give as much advance notice as possible and schedule your party early in the season.

Track guests' responses. Invite friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, or anyone who loves cookies. In this case, more is better-you'll have that many more kinds of cookies to swap. Ask everyone to tell you what type of cookies they'll bring. It's the host's job to keep a running list to avoid duplications. Remind partygoers to bring a few extra empty tins or zip-top bags to take their cookies home in.

Determine the number of cookies guests should bring. One suggestion: Ask each guest to bring six dozen cookies from a single recipe-about two to three batches of an average cookie recipe. If you opt for this approach, each guest should leave with six dozen cookies, no matter how many people attend. Or you can base the number of cookies to bring on the number of guests, and be sure to account for yourself, the host. For example, if you expect 12 guests, ask each person to bring 13 dozen cookies. The advantage to this approach is that everyone will leave with a full dozen of each cookie. Regardless of which strategy appeals to you, ask each guest to bring an extra half-dozen to enjoy during the party.

Get copies of the recipes. Each guest should go home with a copy of all of the cookie recipes. Ask guests to bring enough copies of their recipes for all. Or, for a more creative approach, ask each guest to email you a copy of his or her recipe a few days ahead of time. Print the recipes on recipe cards. For a souvenir, bind them into a cookie swap cookbook complete with the year and date.

Prepare some savory snacks. You and your guests will be sampling lots of cookies, so it's nice to offer some savory snacks and drinks to balance the sweets.