Last weekend I attended my first cookie exchange. All I can say is thank goodness my husband enjoys cooking! After three hours of baking close to six-dozen cookies, I ended up netting a total of 3 gifts plus some left over cookies. For those unfamiliar with a cookie exchange or swap, the goal is to end up with about the same amount of cookies you baked, but a larger selection for gifts. Here’s what I learned from my first attempt:

  1. Choose an easy recipe for a cookie exchange. Our recipe, an apple, cinnamon, pecan cookie that was closer to a muffin-like texture, was much too complicated for baking such a large quantity of cookies. Between shredding apples and cutting up caramel, it took us three solid hours to churn out the minimum amount we needed.
  2. Take two or more containers and wax paper to the cookie exchange and take your time packing them. I took two containers and some wax paper, but in my haste, I ended up placing the cookies in one container one on top of the other. Needless to say, some became stuck to one another and couldn’t be used for gifts. We ended up eating those ourselves. 😉
Cookie Exchange Highlights
Cookie Exchange Highlights

It was a great learning experience, but I think I’d rather stick to mason jar gifts instead. This weekend, we (ha, ha, ha….Mr. LH!) spent only one hour creating a total of 5 mason jar gifts; we’re calling them Mrs. Claus’ Cookies, but it’s really just a variation on Cowgirl Cookies from Bakerella. These gifts were easier to make, about the same cost (maybe less), and didn’t require any baking at all. A few tips from our first experience with this particular recipe:

  1. Bakerella suggests really packing the ingredients in the jar. She’s right on the mark! Not only will the ingredients barely fit, if you don’t pack the brown sugar, in particular, the white, granulated sugar will seep down the sides making the gifts look a little “messy.”
  2. Want to save money? Ditch the pecans. We ended up leaving out the pecans and instead just including two kinds of chocolate: chocolate chips and holiday M & M’s. If we had thought about it a little more, we might have included dried cranberries or raisins….maybe in the next batch.
Mason Jar Gifts
Mason Jar Gifts

Since my color printer has been on the fritz lately, we used double-sided tape to attach the ribbon and wrapping paper for the top of the jar using a blade to cut off the excess paper. We included the recipe on the top with a small gift card. If you’re more creative, check out Bakerella’s printable labels and die cut idea.

We’ll be making more of these over the next week and handing them out to acquaintances. They’re fun to make, inexpensive, with a personal touch.

Are you making handmade gifts this year?


  1. MonicaOnMoney Reply

    These are beautiful gifts, thank you for sharing! I was just looking around for some inexpensive ideas for baking.

  2. Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter Reply

    They look so nice! I have never done mason jar gifts like this but I think it’s a thoughtful and cute idea. Mason jars are so trendy right now that the jar can be used after the cookies are made. The ones you made are visually appealing, too.

    • @Daisy – They are trendy right now and you can find a ton of recipes on Pinterest. Cute, thoughtful and inexpensive. 😉

  3. Looks delicious! I now have new gift idea this coming Christmas. Are you selling them? How much will it cost me to do those homemade gift jars & cookies? 😉

    • @Nik – I haven’t thought about selling them, but the cost of each is about $2.50 maybe. I had most of the ingredients on hand except the M&M’s and chocolate chips.

  4. Ryan @ Impersonal Finance Reply

    This is straight awesome! My wife and I did mason jar jams, jellies, and baking supplies for about $5 a gift. Homemade thought, people love them, and it really stretches the budget!

    • @Ryan – Jams and Jellies are great ideas. I’m not much of a cook, so these cookie recipes were more my speed and very inexpensive.

  5. Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter Reply

    Cute! We are currently making beer bread gifts. You really only need self-rising flour, sugar, and beer. So they are the perfect bagged gift for our beer drinking friends. Premeasured, just add beer, and bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees. Too easy.

  6. @Betty – the pancake mix sounds pretty awesome. If I were more of a cook, I’d add baked goods to my homemade gifts. Too bad I don’t really cook. But… good thing some of my friends do!

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