Instead of doing all your shopping on Amazon this year, why not get a little more creative and whip up a batch of homemade gifts in the kitchen? A thoughtful gift of cookies baked with love is sure to be appreciated by anyone on your list, especially when you wrap them up to look as wonderful as they taste.
If you need some inspiration on how to package homemade cookies to give as gifts, you’ve come to the right place. By following these tips and tricks, you’re sure to end up with a gift that will wow the lucky recipient. Here’s how.
RECIPE: Sesame-Almond Lace Cookies
How to Package Cookies for Gifting
Watch out for overlapping flavors. Avoid packing different flavors of cookies together, whether in a bag or a cookie tin, advises Elizabeth Nelson, test kitchen manager for Wilton. “If the cookies are not separated carefully, flavors will mingle together,” she says.
Cool cookies before wrapping. Ensure your baked goods are cooled completely to room temperature before packaging them up to maintain the highest quality. “Wrapping while warm will trap in moisture and make for soggy or overly delicate baked goods,” says Nelson.
Consider texture. You should also steer clear of packing crunchy and soft cookies together, regardless of container, as pairing them together can make crunchy cookies soft and soft cookies dry, says Nelson. (If the cookies are going to be eaten right away, however, you can make an exception.)
RECIPE: Christmas Cutout Cookies
Don’t overpack. Freshly baked cookies can be fragile, so be sure to not overstuff your gift container to avoid breakage, says Brenda Mortensen, a certified food scientist and food product development manager at Cheryl’s Cookies.
If you’re planning to ship the gift, check out more tips to keep in mind when sending baked goods through the mail.
Be mindful of food allergies and diets. It’s a good idea to label your gift listing potential allergens if possible, says Nelson. If you don’t want it to look like you’re giving an ingredient list, you can always share a copy of the recipe as part of the gift—a touch that can be much appreciated by the recipient if they’d like to try making the treat themselves.
Secure the cookies. If you’re going to be traveling with decorated cookies (on the road to Grandma’s house, perhaps, or stuffed into an overhead bin on a plane), you’ll want to take extra precaution to hold them in place. Nelson recommends melting candy melts and adding a drop to the bottom of each cookie to attach them to a cake board or cookie box to prevent them from moving around. “Less shifting means fewer chances that your decorated cookies will get damaged or smudged,” she says.
Clever Ways to Pack Cookies as Gifts
Cookie tins 2.0
Craft stores such as Michael’s and Hobby Lobby are packed with holiday-themed tins in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to use them as-is, though: Up your gift-giving game by jazzing them up with colored food-safe tissue paper, ribbons, artificial pine boughs, gift tags and cookie cutters. “Don’t be afraid to think outside the box (literally!),” says Mortensen. You can use also muffin liners to hold cookies inside the tin—they’re functional for keeping them in place and a cute touch, too.
Beyond the tin, you can also find all kinds of vessels such as baskets, pails or tiered trays that work perfectly for packaging holiday cookies. Just be sure to add layers of wax paper or food-safe tissue paper in between, if you’re stacking items, to keep your gift looking tidy and the cookies intact.
RECIPE: Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodles
Packaging a homemade baked good in actual metal or tin baking pans is a two-fold gift: Your recipient gets to enjoy the wonderful desserts inside, and they also have a lovely gift they can put to use in their own kitchens. Try filling a square or round cake pan with cookies, then wrapping the entire thing in colored cellophane and tying it with a festive ribbon.
Author and aspiring baker Meridith Alexander loves using wine bags to deliver holiday goodies. “Just wrap the actual cookies [individually] in plastic wrap first to keep them fresh, then tie the bag with a bow,” she says. You can even tie in a cute ornament for extra flair.
Disposable baking supplies
You can hit up a local craft store to find all kinds of single-use baking supplies, such as loaf pans and muffin pans (such as these from Wilton). Made from plant-based materials, these serve as a perfect blank canvas for a holiday gift. You can decorate the outside using washi tape, stickers, stamps, stencils and more, then wrap it all up with a big bow.
RECIPE: Chewy Chocolate-Molasses Cookies
Legendary New York baker Dominique Ansel has an imaginative idea for giving cookies as gifts. “Rather than a traditional tin or box, try a retro lunchbox instead,” he says. For example, he baked a batch of cinnamon brown sugar animal crackers and packaged them inside a lunchbox with a bottle of McCormick cinnamon. “It was fun to create something that brought back those nostalgic childhood memories for people,” Ansel adds.
Stack cookies in a mason jar so the recipient can see them right through the glass, says Kristen Tomlan, founder of Dō and author of Hello, Cookie Dough. “Add a piece of fabric around the lid and tie a ribbon with a handwritten note, and you've got a gift that is just as adorable as it is delicious,” she adds. Plus, the jar can be reused once the cookies are gone.