Have you ever attended or participated in a holiday cookie swap? I have. And in my sweet, idealist mind, I imagined such swaps to contain ample bounties of freshly baked goods by the colorful plateful. Some would be chewy and soft with subtle flavor, while others would be sugary and crisp with just the right touch of crunch (but not too many crumbs). All would be baked with love and care, and would taste warmly like the holidays.
But in reality, everyone has a different understanding of what defines a "holiday cookie." So when friends and family are grouped together for seasonal treat-swapping, the results are a mish-mash of items that kind of remind us of Halloween — and we definitely don't want everything that lands in our bucket. Plus, sometimes you end up going home with a container filled with Aunt June's dry sugar cookie stars, while the rest of the fam munches on your fluffy double-chocolate chippers. (Note to self: make a double batch this year and stash some in a safe place for later.)
But just because it's happened to me, doesn't mean it has to happen to you. We've made the ultimate count-down ranking of holiday cookies to serve not only as a warning, but also as a guide that you can print and distribute among your squad.
So scroll ahead and get familiar with the good, the bad, and the ugly of holiday cookies. We know this is a controversial topic (just ask Aunt June), so feel free to share your personal faves and opinions in the comments. And if suddenly find inspiration to do some holiday baking of your own — we've got 29 options, right here.