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Wow Your Friends with the Perfect Holiday Cookie Platter

A platter full of various cookies and brownies surrounded by scattered candy canes.
Teri Virbickis/Shutterstock

Cookie platters are always a hit at holiday parties because a grab-and-go dessert allows guests to mingle! We’ll help you pick the perfect cookie recipes and arrange a gorgeous, festive platter for your holiday gathering.

Select a Good Variety

Like all tasty meals at dinner parties, preparation for your cookie tray is key. If you’ve never made a cookie tray, choosing the right recipes might initially feel daunting, but it really comes down to variety.

A good cookie platter offers different flavors, textures, and colors. Choose about three different cookies for a small platter and five or more for a large arrangement.

This is assuming that most recipes make between 12 and 24 cookies per batch. Don’t forget to add some festive colors, like green and red—crushed candy cane or sprinkles on some of your cookies will do the trick.

Bake in Advance and Freeze

A batch each of chocolate fudge cookies, lemon raspberry cookies, Christmas crack, and snowballs in freezer bags.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

If your holiday get-together is a few weeks away, you can make your cookies over time, and then freeze them. This can make the process feel less overwhelming, and your cookies will still taste as fresh as ever.

After your cookies are baked and cooled, add any drizzles or sprinkles and let them set. Put your cookies in large freezer bags, label them, and then freeze.

At this writing, Christmas is just a few days away, but you can still make a cookie platter with store-bought goodies. We used a combination of homemade treats and store-bought butter cookies. Refrigerated cookie dough will save time, as well.

Pick a Nice Presentation Platter

White presentation platters or trays always make an impression. The clean appearance doesn’t distract from the overall presentation of your goodies and allows the colors of cookies and treats to really pop. If you don’t have a platter, check at a craft or dollar store.

Put small, bite-size treats, like buckeyes, snowballs, or tartlets, in individual mini muffin papers. They add a little something extra, and folks will appreciate being able to grab a bite of dessert without making a mess.

Arrange in Clusters

A white platter with various cookies arranged in clusters. .
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

If you group the same cookies together in your arrangement, it does a few things. First, it creates a lovely appearance and makes your platter look organized. Different cookies scattered everywhere looks disorganized and chaotic.

You also want to consider your guests’ preferences and allergies. Some folks might not be a fan of powdered sugar due to the messiness. If the cookie they want is smooshed next to a snowball covered in a powdery mess, they might pass.

A lot of treats have nuts, peanut butter, and other common allergens. If you arrange your nut-filled cookies together, it will help your guests differentiate them from the other treats. It’s also important to clearly label anything with allergens, especially if there will be kids at your party.

And, yes, it’s a cookie platter, but you don’t have to limit yourself. Adding other things, like fresh fruit, brownies, bark, or fudge, gives more color, texture, and shapes to your platter. Plus, it gives your guests more options. We included Pecan Snowballs and Christmas Crack on our tray.

Embellish with Candy

A cookie platter with various chocolate candies added.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

Candy is an excellent way to add more texture and variety to your treat tray. You can quickly fill in any gaps with Hershey kisses or candy canes in Christmas colors.

Chocolate covered pretzels are always a fan favorite because each bite is both sweet and salty. And there’s no need to dip—you can buy them ready-made!

If you’ve run out of time for your holiday treat tray, you don’t have to make multiple batches of cookies. There’s no shame in arranging an assortment you buy from the bakery section at your local grocery store. Give yourself a break!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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