How to do a Large Scale Cookie Swap (100 or more)

This was the response I gave to a question about large scale swaps on the CE Message board in Oct 2008. Every time someone asks me about large scale swaps, it takes me forever to find the post among thousands of others, so I decided to simply add it to my articles section on the website.

This is a concept answer as I've never hosted a CE this large, but if I were to do one, this is probably how I'd do it to make it fair for everyone in order to not have 'a free for all'.

If everyone takes home 4 cookies each from the group of 100, that would require 100 women to bake 400 cookies. That's 33 dozen cookies! I don't think so!

I was imagining what I would want as a participant an event like this. I would like to take home around 100 cookies, 4 cookies per baggie. (If you think you can get your group to bake more cookies, go for it, using the rules below, just redo the math.)

... this situation will require a lot of RULES and an organizational committee to make it work. Since you're doing this in a church, you'll have that woman-power available, to organize, set up and implement a gigantic cookie exchange..... so here goes Robin and her rules again! :D

Robin's Rules for a LARGE Cookie Swap! (100 Women)

Since it's such a large group, you should probably break it up. People will want to take to a large selection but for practicality purposes, the group should be split into 4 groups of 25. 25 is a much easier number to deal with and 25 varieties of cookies to take home should be pleasing to the participants.

Ask each woman to bake 100 cookies (8.3 dozen) Pre-bagged, 4 cookies per baggie. (The bags should be clear so people can see to choose what they want to take.)

Divide the group of 100 woman into four groups. Have four long tables of 25 each.


Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, Table 4


Label each participant A-Z For instance: Suzie's cookies are located at Table 3, M

Then for swap time, you have 2 choices:

1) Only let the women swap the cookies from their assigned table


2) Do a ROUND ROBIN with all 4 tables. Tell the women they can take home 24 baggies of cookies, TOTAL for the day.

Why 24 instead of 25? 6 x 4 = 24. That leaves one extra bag for the church to accumulate 100 extra bags total of 4 cookies each to give away to the poor and/or needy at the church.

(Variation: 5 Tables of 20, cookies divided equally, no extras. However, since it's a church I recommend gathering cookies for the needy.)

At each table they're allowed to choose 6 baggies of 4 cookies each per table. You'll need a monitor posted at each table.

1) As the women check in, they are given a large paper grocery bag with w/ their name on it and table assignments. The committee in charge can do this part ahead of time, assuming there was a sign up sheet.

2) They CANNOT carry the take away bag to the cookie table, it sits on the floor on the sidelines.

3) Have a large sign on each table, with corresponding number; Example: TABLE 2 and a one way ARROW.

4) At the end of the table stands one person as a Table Monitor.

5) Have an EMCEE (main hostess in charge) on a microphone, give group instructions.

6) Have everyone take their place in front of their table of cookies, this starts the swap.

7) Instruct each participant to select 6 bags per table. Everyone proceeds one way, passes the monitor who checks each person has 6 bags and then they walk toward the wall with their named large grocery bag sits along it. They deposit their cookies into their bags.

8) Emcee then announces it time to go to a different table. Table 1, please line up at Table 2. Table 4 go to Table one. Then wait for instructions.

9) As everyone is now ready, begin swap of next Table. Repeat Process. This should happen 4 times.

I have not done this party, but I can picture the scenario clearly in my head. It will be orderly as long as there is an Emcee in charge.

Or you could just have a "free for all" but I guarantee that some women will go home disappointed as they see "all the best cookies" were taken right away and some will definitely walk off with MORE than their fair share. That means others will be shorted.


Next: There will be a great accumulation of recipes and people swapping the cookies will want some of those recipes. Decide if there will be a church printed cook book, or a web site where all cookie recipes will reside.

Here's a way I thought of to match up the 100 cookies at the swap, to the correct recipes after the swap:

1) Buy a large box of little round price stickers, like for a yard sale.

2) Give each participant a sheet and have them fill out their table assignment and alphabet letter on each sticker and place one sticker on each of their 25 baggie of cookies. Or.... the church could get volunteers to do this before hand.

3) Be sure to state on the invitation that everyone must submit their cookie recipe to the church by email, preferably before the swap and no later than 24 hours after the swap.

4) That way each cookie can be tracked to the exact recipe.

For instance when Suzie arrived at the church and she signed in, she was given her Table 3M designation. On the master sign in sheet, she filled in the name of her cookie. Suzie T., Table 3,M --Mocha Caramel Swirls. Trisha went home, sampled the cookies and decided she LOVED the Mocha Caramel Swirls and she HAD to have that recipe.

On her cookie baggie, the little round sticker said "3M." Trisha went online to the church website and saw the link for recipe 3M and that led her to Suzie's Mocha Caramel Swirls. Basically it's shorthand. If you ask for everyone to put sticker labels at home with the names of the cookies, I guarantee there will be many that don't do it. This way forces the issue of uniformity, which is needed in a large group.

Good Luck!


PS) If anyone reading this has experience in hosting a large scale cookie swaps and would like to share their nuggets of wisdom, email me at