This year, why not get into the spirit of making mouth-watering gifts from simple, wholesome ingredients for your loved ones?! Not only are you giving the gift of health, you are giving a labor of love gift.
Making homemade edible gifts is not only fun, but you can also get creative in how you package them. You can pack them in half-pint, pint, quart, and even half-gallon canning jars, re-decorated salad dressing bottles, plastic bags with twist ties, and gift boxes lined with foil, tissue or parchment paper. Here are some other creative ideas (but not limited to):
When you pack cookies in zip-lock bags, separate each layer with parchment paper. Place a piece of unbleached paper towel inside the top and bottom of each bag to absorb moisture.
To get all the air out of the bag, insert a straw 2 inches into the bag. Zip the bag closed to meet the straw; inhale through the straw to pull the air out of the bag. Pinch the straw shut and pull out the straw and zip the bag closed. This will help to prevent freezer burn should you decide to freeze them.
To add a personal touch use shipping labels (which you can purchase at most drug or office supply stores) to make homemade labels.
Food can still spoil, be sure to let your gift recipients know which gifts need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Tins come in all shapes and sizes! You can use old or new ones, each has its own character.
Use a holiday-decorated tin for winter holidays. Fill the bottom of the tin with shredded paper commonly used in Easter baskets. I tend to stock up on these tins after the holidays when they go on sale for a 50-70% discount!
Old antique tins that you can find at flea markets, thrift stores, or even garage sales make unique gifts as well.
Brown Paper Bags:
Unbleached brown craft paper brings a certain rustic elegance to the table that can be helpful if you’re going for that sort of look.
Accent your packages with plaid hair ribbons, colored twine or other appropriate interesting items that suit your taste.
I have even folded the edge of the bag over and ran it through my sewing machine using a decorative stitch. This is one of my favorite!
Twine is great too. It comes in large rolls for a cheap price and adds a real homey and rustic look.
These are perfect for homemade treats.
They can be decorated with stamps or glue-on gift tags. A great craft project for you and your children!
You can find some gorgeous ones at department stores these days. I have bought them for as low as .99 cents each.
Put the treat in a large piece of plastic wrap, then dropped it into the glass. Twisted the plastic and then tie it with curling ribbon. You can use business card paper and print a “gift cards”. On the front of the card you can print out a holiday wish along with the name of the treat and on the back of the card you can list out the ingredients.
These would make neat gifts for your children to hand out to their school teachers, or give to your co-workers. For a more personalized touch you can buy individual glasses, cups, or mugs for that special person, or you can simply buy a box of glasses from the department store for an inexpensive price.
This is one of my favorite ways of storing and giving gifts. Jars come in all shapes and sizes and antique ones have lots of character.
Jars work great for giving granolas as a gift. Tie some twine around the neck of the jar and attach a metal scoop for decoration. Love it!
Decorating the jars: You can cut circles out of scrap fabric with pinking shears to adorn the lids, giving them that special added touch. Fabric Scraps – 7″ circles for wide mouth jars, and 6″ circles for regular mouth jars. On odd sized jars just make sure the fabric cut out is 2-inches wider than the jar top.
Labels for jars: You can find them at Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, Sam’s Club, Costco, Amazon and many other stores. Here are a few examples – Avery Sticker Project Paper, White, 8.5 x 11 Inches, Pack of 15.
Small labels: are 1 inch high by 2 5/8 inches wide. There are 30 labels per sheet (3 across, 10 down). These are very good for tiny jars such as the 4 and 8 ounce jars. Keep in mind that they ARE very hard to read, so you want to keep your words to a minimum. Use Avery 5160 (laser) and 8160 (inkjet) label papers. Avery also makes a waterproof version: 5520. These would go on the side of your jars.
Medium labels: are 1 3/4 inches high by 4 inches wide and are great for 8 ounce, pint and quart jars. There are 14 labels per sheet (2 across, 7 down). Use Avery 5162 (laser) and Avery 8462 (Inkjet) and 8162 (Inkjet) label paper. You would put them on the side of your jars.
Since the jars will be exposure to moisture once the jars are stored in the fridge, you may want to take a few precautions:
First, always start with a clean, dry surface on the jar.
Next, swipe the area that the label will cover with a glue stick. Press the label onto the glued area. Keep pressing for about 30 seconds.
Labels printed on Laser printers are more waterproof than those printed on most ink jet printers. You can cover the labels with a piece of clear adhesive tape (clear packaging tape works well) which will seal the labels with a waterproof cover.
Homemade Gift Tags:
Using DYI business card sheets and your printer you can make your own gift labels.
Add a special touch by putting your or your family’s picture on them.
Mailing edible desserts:
Certain foods tend to ship better than others. Any dessert that requires refrigeration is not a good candidate for the mail, unless you pack it with dry ice and ship by 1 or 2 day air. Choose sturdy treats so you don’t have to worry too much about breakage. Kale chips for example are not the best choice to send through the mail. :)
Granolas are great since they already have a fairly dry texture, drying out isn’t much of an issue. Try: Mince Pie Granola, or choose from the many others that can be found here.
Cookies are great to mail too. Just steer clear of ones that have jelly centers or frostings. Take a side trip over here and check out some different cookie recipes!
Crackers make wonderful gifts as well. Who says that you always have to give a gift of sweetness, why not something savory! See any recipes here that speak to you?
How to ship:
Once you’ve made your raw treats, you’re ready for the next step: packing them. There are a few guidelines you should follow when it comes to preparing your perishable treats for shipping. Follow these guidelines and your special packages should arrive fresh, in one piece, and great-tasting.
Don’t pack crisp and soft cookies together–the moisture from the soft cookies will seep into the crisp cookies, making them lose their delightful crunch.
Don’t mix flavors together in the same containers. Even if there’s lots of waxed paper buffer, they will likely absorb each other’s flavors.
Avoid moist fillings and frostings since they may become sticky or soft at room temperature.
Don’t over-stuff your container. Your treats may be damaged. Likewise, don’t under-pack your container. They should fit snugly. If you have too much space, crumple up a bit of tissue paper to fill the holes.
Pack your treat in a sturdy tin or airtight container. On the bottom of the container place a piece of bubble wrap, then line the container with parchment paper or cellophane, leaving enough to tuck over the top once the container is fully packed. Place one layer of cookies in the container. Cover with parchment paper. Arrange another layer of cookies, followed with more parchment paper, and continue this layering until the container is full. Tuck the cellophane or parchment paper over the top, then place another piece of bubble wrap on top, and seal your container.
Pack your tin or container in a heavy-duty cardboard box that’s large enough to allow a two- to three-inch cushion between the tin and the wall of the outside box.
Place a layer of shipping peanuts, air-popped popcorn, or crumpled paper on the bottom of your shipping box. Set your treat container on this bottom layer. Then fill in the sides and top with more shipping materials.
Seal the shipping box with heavy-duty shipping tape. Place a mailing label on the box, and write PERISHABLE on all sides of the box. You’re now ready to send those treats on their way.
Shipping options – Depending on the item being shipped I recommend that you send the package priority mail, FedEx, UPS or better yet, hop on the airplane and hand deliver. ;)