Christmas Cookie Packaging
Last Tuesday I spent another evening attending a class at The Boutique Bakeshop. We baked four types of cookies during the class, and also decorated a few pre-made gingerbread men and cutout sugar cookies. Many of you know that I am a “Cookie Master,” so you may be wondering why I would take a class designated solely to baking cookies. There’s a simple answer. I knew by taking the class that I would be forcing myself to set aside two hours in which cookies would actually be baked. On my own, I wasn’t sure if I would ever get around to it. The added bonus of taking the class, was meeting new people, learning new recipes, having cookies to take home that would eventually become part of cookie packages to hand out to a few of my elderly neighbors, and having someone else clean up after me. I think I spent more time packaging the cookies than I did taking the class. The printer and I got into a huge fight. Every time I replaced one ink cartridge, another one would run out. It was an ongoing cycle of the printer monster rearing up its ugly head to defeat my last minute and rushed project. After all of the cursing and printer hitting was finally over, I ended up with one pretty basket and two gift bags full of cookies. (Yes, I did hit the printer. I am guilty of printer abuse. I hit things when they don’t work. My philosophy is that if you hit something electronic that isn’t working already, there’s no harm done. If it’s already broken, you have nothing to lose. B.O.B. Bob does not see things the same way as I do needless to say. I have to be careful that he’s not around when I abuse my difficult appliances and gadgets.) After several hours of putting together these gifts to hand out, I decided to share some tips on how to make a great Christmas cookie package that any neighbor will be delighted to receive.
1. Pick a basket, box, or gift bag to place your cookies in. Size matters. You want something that doesn’t make it look like someone ate half of the cookies while delivering the package, but you don’t want something that is overflowing so much that you lose cookies as you’re making the actual deliveries. You might however make friends with some neighborhood animals this way. Speaking of which, you may choose to bake some treats for four-legged animals to include in your gift baskets. Here is a simple and adorable recipe for Dog Treats for the Pet Lover from Pocket Change Gourmet.
I recycled a basket that was given to me for my birthday. I say recycled because re-gifting doesn’t sound as nice. I loved what was in the basket, and put it immediately to good use, but the basket itself would serve no purpose in my house, except for Brenna to hop in an out of. Gift bags are easily purchased anywhere, but I’ve found that HomeGoods sells really nice quality ones for a great price. I picked up several plaid and tartan patterned ones this year, because you know how addicted I’ve been lately to that particular design. A few other options for cookie packaging are tins, boxes, and even Mason jars. Use what you have laying around the house. You’d be surprised what you will find sitting around not being used that you can transform into a beautiful package.
2. Wrap cookies in cellophane bags. I like to keep my cookies separate. I discriminate; there should be no cookie intermingling allowed. Powdered sugar from one cookie getting all over another cookie with sprinkles is just icky. It’s also a good way to incorporate ribbon into your cookie package. I stock up on small rolls of Christmas themed ribbon at Michael’s, where you can also purchase the cellophane bags to put your cookies in. Ribbon is inexpensive, and I can find several uses for it during the holidays. Ribbon also makes everything look more festive. Glitter ribbon is even better if you can find it, but be careful not to transfer the glitter onto your cookies. Looking at glitter makes one happy; eating glitter makes one poop glitter. Talk to Brenna about this if you have any doubts.
3. Make a cookie menu to include in your gift basket or bag. You want the receiver of your gift to have an idea of what they are eating. It’s kind of like getting a box of chocolates that has a menu included. No one wants to take a bite of that chocolate covered coconut piece. Menus help to eliminate the chance of this taking place. You may want to add a note of which cookies have nuts in them for people that are allergic. I used the Rhonna Designs app on my iPad to make this cookie menu. I cannot say enough good things about this app; it’s one that I use every week, if not every day.
4. Print out pretty labels to add to your package. I chose these free Holiday Chalkboard Labels by hand letterer and chalk artist Valerie McKeehan to use this year. This is when the printer and I started to have a “lively discussion.” Apparently you need yellow ink to print chalkboard designs. That’s right, you need the color yellow to make gray apparently. Joy. I finally printed these tags out successfully, carefully cut them out, and then used double-sided tape to adhere two of them together. I then used a hole punch to cut a small circle to hang them by. I love how they turned out, and the best part was that they were absolutely free. That’s if you don’t count the price of cardstock or printer ink. But I won’t even begin to complain about those two things; there’s not enough time in the world.
After you’ve packaged up your cookies, it’s time to go out and deliver them. Dress warmly, and make sure you have plenty of time to make your rounds. Some people will thank you at the door and let you get on your way, but others will want to visit with you for a lengthy amount of time. Don’t be in too much of a rush. It’s Christmas. It’s a happy time. Spend time with your neighbors, let them know how special they are to you, and that if they need anything throughout the holidays or in the upcoming winter months that you are there for them. After your deliveries, make sure to come home and warm up with a mug of hot chocolate, and a plate of the “Reject Cookies” you put aside, telling yourself that they were too mangled or wonky to put in someone’s gift basket. “Reject Cookies” taste exactly the same, just close your eyes and you’ll never know the difference.