One of my favorite parts of the holidays is parties. The fancy ones, the ones with kids, and of course the ones with my girlfriends. There are tons of fun party ideas out there, but my very favorite are the low key ones where you can just sit around and chat with your friends for hours — but in a pretty setting with good food.

Today for Holidays at Home during Merrick’s Guide to the Holidays, I’m sharing a few tips for throwing an easy Hot Cocoa and Cookie Swap party. It meets all the requirements I mentioned above, and when I threw this party with my friends, it was one of the best parties ever.

Merrick's Art | Cookie Swap Hot Cocoa Party
Merrick's Art | Cookie Swap Hot Cocoa Party
Merrick's Art | Cookie Swap Hot Cocoa Party
Merrick's Art | Cookie Swap Hot Cocoa Party
Merrick's Art | Cookie Swap Hot Cocoa Party
Merrick's Art | Cookie Swap Hot Cocoa Party
Merrick's Art | Cookie Swap Hot Cocoa Holiday Party
Merrick's Art | Hot Chocolate Holiday Party
Merrick's Art Hot Chocolate Bar
Merrick's Art Hot Chocolate Bar
Merrick's Art | Holiday Cookie Swap Party with Friends
Hayneedle Firepit
Hot cocoa, monogrammed mug
Hot chocolate holiday party

So now for the fun part — time for you to throw a party of your own! Here’s the details on what I did, and a few tips for throwing yours:

Start with hot cocoa. Fill a small crockpot with pre-made plain hot cocoa. I used this recipe from Momables, which is my very favorite and so simple and quick.

Mix-ins and drink stirrers are next. There are a million options out there, but these are the ones we had:

  • mini peppermint candy canes
  • caramel squares (unless the hot cocoa is really hot, these don’t melt, so fair warning)
  • homemade salted caramel sauce (which I made after testing the caramel squares) — that recipe is amazing, and also really easy
  • marshmallows
  • cinnamon sticks (you can find them in the spice section of your grocery store)
  • whipped cream
  • hazelnut pirouette cookies
My favorite combination was salted caramel sauce with a cinnamon stick. Also make sure everyone has a spoon so they can stir their cocoa!

Add a personal touch for your guests. I only invited four friends, so I spoiled them a bit and bought them each a monogrammed mug that they could use for the night and then take home. They loved it, and it added a sweet, personal touch to the party.

Swap those cookies! We each brought a dozen cookies. A few to munch on during the party, and then each of us were able to bring a plate home. I made my go-to chocolate chip recipe, which were great, but we also had Jana’s famous sugar cookies (which she decorated like snowflakes and cable knit — they were stunning, as you can see!), shortbread cookies with crushed candy canes, festive Swig knockoff cookies, and pumpkin cookies with caramel frosting.

Don’t forget the decor! For decor, I kept it simple, but festive. I made these paper stars, hung some garland and ribbon, and decorated the table with a plaid blanket scarf, an ikea sheepskin rug, and a few Christmas decorations. I made my amazingly talented friend, Tara from Rad and Happy, write a little chalkboard sign for us. Then I took festive pillows from inside and replaced my outdoor pillows for the night to give it more a cozy, holiday feel around the fire pit, and finally asked everyone to bring their own blanket to keep warm around the fire.

There are so many ways to throw this kind of party, so get creative and add your personal touches to it. Invite your husbands and make it a couples party, or do it during the day with your kids and their friends. So many possibilities! Just spending time with your family and friends is the best way to spend the holidays, and this is a fun and yummy way to do it.

Merrick's Art | Holiday Cookie Swap and Hot Chocolate Party
Tomorrow I have an amazing giveaway for you, so make sure you stop by!
photos by rad and happy


  1. Lindsay Erin says:

    I am IN LOVE with this! Gorgeous

  2. Janssen says:

    That patio is seriously the perfect party spot. And those stars are always a good idea.

  3. Nikki says:

    How beautiful and festive! I always want to do a little party like this, but hesitate because none of my friends know each other… but I guess there’s only one way! Sure looks like fun!

  4. Meghan Jenson says:

    I like how you only had a few people over so you could spoil them with their own mugs!

  5. Sarah H. says:

    OK this is a great idea. We might actually do this at our xmas party!

    ~Sarah of Sarah’s Real Life

  6. you says:

    I’m confused– doesn’t your religion prohibit both “hot drinks” and/or caffeine (Doctrine and Covenets 89:1-21)? How is cocoa, which is both hot and contains caffeine, acceptable in your belief system?

    • Merrick says:

      Thanks for your question! You’re absolutely right that the Word of Wisdom outlines “hot drinks” as something we’re not supposed to drink. However, it has been clarified by modern prophets to mean coffee and black or green tea. We have been taught that herbal tea and hot chocolate are fine. And the caffeine thing is a myth — there is no church doctrine that says we cannot drink caffeine. There are some members of the church who are against drinking it, but it’s completely a personal choice. Hope that answers your questions! xx

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