Covid can't stop the holiday cookie swap

A holiday cookie exchange in 2020 is doable, despite the pandemic.

(CNN)There is no crowding into a small kitchen this year, waiting for your turn with the stand mixer or the oven, and grabbing handfuls of warm treats off a buffet platter.

Like so many other 2020 events, holiday cookie swaps will look a little different in the time of social distancing.
But you can still get the sugar rush and endorphin boost of a traditional baking binge without cramming into close quarters. These pandemic-friendly cookie swap ideas will help you celebrate this time-honored holiday tradition safely — and much less stressfully.

Do a virtual swap

    The easiest way to do a cookie swap in the middle of a pandemic is — where else? — online. There are a few ways to pull off a virtual cookie swap.
    If you want to make a bunch of different cookies on your own, each participant in your swap can choose one recipe and share it with the rest of the group. Pick a date for an online meeting, then bake up a batch (or a half batch) of each selected cookie recipe in time to sample them for your remote cookie tasting.
    Because you're not constrained by a single day of baking together in this scenario, you can try your hand at a few quirky recipes or make any substitutions your heart desires.
    Try maple cream sandwich cookies in place of the usual frosted sugar cookies. Don't want raisins in your brown butter oatmeal raisin cookies? Make them with dried cherries or white chocolate chips instead! Then discuss among yourselves.
    Switch it up this year and bake maple cream sandwich cookies.
    For a celebratory twist, propose that the group open the swap meeting with a toast using freshly baked chocolate chip cookie shot glasses. You decide whether you want to fill yours with milk, eggnog or hot chocolate.
    Kick off festivities with a toast using these chocolate chip cookie shot glasses.
    The second way to do a virtual cookie swap is slightly more old school: Every participant can make one cookie recipe on their own, then divvy up the batches and ship them to each other. Joan Cichalski of Little Silver, New Jersey, has been doing a swap with a group of East Coast college friends almost every year since 1969. (Disclosure: She's also my mother-in-law, so I always get some of her treats.)
    Though the group is within driving distance of their homes in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey, none of the ladies want to take on the risks of travel this year.
    "We're moving it to Zoom, like everything else, even though we really want to get together," she said. After decades of swapping, the group has an arsenal of favorite cookie recipes, so they're picking tried-and-true options instead of overthinking it.
    "I'll be doing my shortbread because that mails beautifully," Cichalski decided.

    How to ship cookies