BASKET AND FOOD GIFT PACKAGING FOR THE HOLIDAYS
I always make a selection of both new and old family favorites to include in my holiday food gifts each year. It’s kind of a joke, as our friends have started placing an “order” for what they’d like to receive.
One gal even went so far as to send me a “letter to Nan” (read “Santa”). It was a list of items they’d love to have included in their food gift basket this year.
This means I start my planning early and take an inventory of my basket and food gift packaging. I try to use what items I have on hand in new and creative ways before purchasing anything.
THIS IS WHEN SAVING BITS AND BAUBLES COMES IN HANDY
I’m a pack-rat when it comes to ribbons, decorative bits and baubles and such. A large boot box is filled with my collected treasures to choose from when coming up with my food gift basket ideas for the holidays. Up-cycling is a mindset you might want to consider adopting. It’s always a great start!
Here is a gift where I used some holiday decorative items that had fallen off a garland strand:
THESE ARE THE KINDS OF ITEMS I TUCK AWAY FOR A RAINY DAY:
- Decorative items from gifts I receive (especially professionally wrapped gifts)
- Elastic metallic gold/silver twine
- Any pretty lengths of ribbons or unique trims
- Sewing notions
- Old embroidered tea towels and napkins
- Trims from discarded tablecloths/linens
- Swag from various events we attend
- Pretty gift bags in perfect condition
- Holiday decorative items
GIVING GIFTS FROM YOUR KITCHEN – QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF FIRST
Here are a few things you’ll want to consider when planning your edible holiday gift giving:
- How will the item be delivered? By hand? Shipped? Dropped off by messenger? You’ll need to consider how “rough” their trip will be and plan packaging accordingly.
- When will your gifts be delivered? All at once? Over several days’ time? Throughout the season? You’ll need to plan items that can keep over the periods of time you’ll be delivering them. Also, gifts that will be given during the entire month, will need a long shelf-life, like a spiced nut mix.
- Do you need some “just in case” gifts ready-to-go during the holidays? Again, a long shelf-life recipe is perfect. A fabulous item to have on hand is my Sparkling Rimming Salts and Sugars. Just click on the image to download and print your FREE PDF. (I’VE GOT THE HANG TAGS ALL READY FOR YOUR JARS IN MY MEMBER’S ONLY RESOURCE LIBRARY.)
- Are any of your gift recipients allergic to food ingredients? If so, you’ll want to make their gift recipe on a day that it can be prepared in a carefully controlled environment. (Making or packaging multiple items can expose your allergic friend to ingredients that are not actually in their gift item.)
Here’s a great article I published a few weeks ago to get you started: 3 Fabulous Homemade Food Gift Recipes – DIY Edible Holiday Gifts
WANT A FABULOUS “GIANT COOKIE” GIFT PACKAGING IDEA?
Look at this great idea for giving “giant cookies” with style and panache this holiday season. It’s inexpensive, but with a little folding magic, this food gift packaging idea is one you need to try. I used Celebrate It parchment paper squares from Micheal’s Crafts, pretty twine and paper doilies. That’s it!
I bought both black and red Celebrate It parchment for this project. Some of the pre-cut parchment sheets were used as cookie box liners, and they fit perfectly. They also ended up as liners for smaller cookie tins and pastry boxes to give them a festive holiday touch inside.
HERE’S THE STEP-BY-STEP PICTORIAL INSTRUCTIONS
Before we get down to the business of planning and packaging your food gifts, I’ve got a recipe for you. This is one of my favorite candies to make and give during the holidays. My homemade divinity candy is easy to customize to everyone’s liking. I split my batch in two and vary the “mix-ins” to give me more variety in my holiday gift baskets.
HOMEMADE DIVINITY CANDY IS DIVINE
A Southern classic, divinity supposedly originated from the word “devine”, which is also its description! Homemade divinity candy is a nougat-like confection that is usually laden with dried fruit and nuts. For a festive holiday version, I like to fold in candied cherries, dried apricots and pistachios.
Pick 2-3 different items for each batch of homemade divinity candy you make. When choosing, make sure you add different colors and textures to the mixture. This ensures both a pretty and tasty confection for your food gift baskets for the holidays. Here’s a list of items I think are wonderful additions to a batch of homemade divinity candy:
- Toasted pistachios
- Dried apricots
- Candied citron
- Crystallized ginger
- Macadamia nuts
- Dried Cranberries
- Toasted almonds
- Candied cherries
- Dried currants
- Toasted hazelnuts
- Candied orange peel
FABULOUS HOMEMADE DIVINITY CANDY IS LIKE A “CLOUD”
Because the base of divinity is a meringue-like cloud, the finished candy can take up to 8-10 hours to dry. It is really important to let the divinity dry properly before slicing.
I love to include some pieces of homemade divinity candy in my holiday food gifts and baskets for the holidays. Often I will hear from friends after the holidays that they hadn’t enjoyed divinity since their childhood. It’s a bit of delicious nostalgia to transport you back to holidays gone by.
*THIS IS A DO-AHEAD RECIPE. Your divinity will take at least 8-10 hours to dry enough to slice. Plan your prep schedule accordingly.
NAN’S TIP: DON’T MAKE DIVINITY ON A RAINY OR HUMID DAY – IT WILL TAKE FOREVER TO DRY TO THE CORRECT TEXTURE WITHOUT BEING STICKY.
HOMEMADE DIVINITY CANDY RECIPE
- Cooking spray, for baking sheet and hands
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 3 large egg whites at room temperature
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup candied and/or dried fruit combination
- 1 1/2 cups toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
- Step 1 Spray a 9 1/2‐by‐12 1/2‐inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment and spray parchment with cooking spray also. (this keeps the parchment from slipping)
- Step 2 In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring, just until sugar has dissolved, then cook until syrup reaches 250°F (firm ball stage) on a candy thermometer.
- Step 3 Meanwhile, in the bowl of a mixer with the whisk, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high. Beat egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form. If peaks form before syrup reaches 250°F, reduce speed and keep mixer running on low.
- Step 4 Reduce speed to medium and add syrup in a slow, steady stream. Add vanilla. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until mixture is very thick. It should begin to lose its gloss, 12-18 minutes. Fold in your prepared nuts and fruits. Scrape mixture into the prepared pan, using hands sprayed with cooking spray to press in and even layer.
- Step 5 Let stand until fully set and dry on top, at least 8 hours. Transfer to a cutting board; cut into 3/4‐by‐3‐inch pieces. Store in a single layer on parchment‐lined baking sheets, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature up to 1 week.
To get precise and neat slices of nougat, fill a tall glass with very hot water. Place a clean knife into the hot water to warm. Take the knife from the water and use it to make clean, long cuts. Dip the knife into the hot water and wipe dry between cuts.
FOOD GIFT PACKAGING FOR THE HOLIDAYS – MISTAKES TO AVOID
- SHIPPING YOUR HOLIDAY FOOD GIFTS IN PACKAGING THAT IS NOT AIRTIGHT – Pretty boxes are nice, but holiday delivery services can be hazardous to your gift’s health and condition. Ship your treats in airtight storage containers in pretty colors that you doll up with some ribbon and bows instead! Save your fancy pastry boxes for local friends and family.
- PACKING YOUR BAKED GOODS BEFORE THEY ARE COMPLETELY COOLED – you don’t want your gifts to arrive soggy, with a layer of condensation ruining your perfectly decorated cookies, do you? Let them cool completely before packaging them up.
- CHOOSING THE WRONG COOKIES FOR PACKAGING AND TRAVEL – you’ll want to avoid choosing delicate or intricately decorated baked goods to send in your food gift packages. Instead, pick a more sturdy and less fragile assortment that will make the trip to your family and friends delicious and intact.
AND A FEW MORE…
- BEING SKIMPY ON PADDING MATERIALS IN YOUR SHIPPED GIFTS – be sure you use ample padding materials when shipping gift boxes through the mail or delivery services. After the time you put into your thoughtful gifts, make sure they arrive in both delicious and good condition!
- CHOOSING A SHIPPING METHOD THAT TAKES TOO LONG – make sure to ask when your package with be received and what method it will be sent. If the service you choose takes too long, your lovingly prepared and carefully packaged gift will be stale and ruined. Most cookie recipes will last at least a week if properly wrapped and packaged.
- SHIPPING BAKED GOODS THAT CONTAIN CUSTARDS OR CHEESECAKE-TYPE FILLINGS – custard ingredients can easily spoil and really need refrigeration after baking. Steer clear of any cookies, bars or cakes that have ingredients that can go bad during shipping.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT COMBINATION FOR YOUR FOOD GIFTS
When coming up with your food gift basket ideas, you’ll need to decide what to make. What cookies, cakes, candies and treats will you want to give this holiday season? Here are some pointers on what kinds travel well:
- Cookies with crunchy or hard textures like shortbreads, biscotti, Springerle or Mexican wedding cookies
- Chewy textured cookies like chocolate chip-oatmeal, snickerdoodles or peanut butter travel well
- Moist centered, chewy selections like macaroons or meringues
- Dense bars like blondies, brownies or fruit and nut (remember, no cheesecake swirls!)
FOOD GIFT PACKAGING AND GIFT BASKET IDEA INSPIRATIONS
HOPEFULLY YOU’RE INSPIRED, SO I’VE MADE SOME HANNUKAH & CHRISTMAS GIFT TAGS FOR YOUR GIFT GIVING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON.
There’s one page of 8 custom created labels each for Hannukah and Christmas.
Click on the image to download and print your FREE HANNUKAH AND CHRISTMAS GIFT TAGS! (PRINT ON WHITE CARD STOCK FOR BEST RESULTS)
PRO TIPS ON MAILING YOUR FOOD GIFTS:
- Cool all baked goods and candies before packing
- Be sure to choose packaging that is food-safe and sturdy, Ziplocs just won’t due for shipping.
- Package each type of cookie separately, soft will stay soft, crunchy will stay crunchy! Wrap bar cookies individually in plastic wrap. (You can tie like presents with ribbon if desired!)
- Line each treat’s storage container with pretty tissue paper or parchment that is large enough to hang over sides. You’ll use the ends to tuck over the top and make your package attractive.
- Layer your cookies with wax paper, parchment or white tissue paper inside the airtight container you choose. You can put a little square of bubble wrap on the bottom for extra protection if needed.
- During the holiday season, save any bubble wrap or padding that comes in your packages. Save them to pad your food gift packaging.
- Group your gift items for each package do determine the size box you will need for shipping. You want the box to be full, not too full and not too empty. Overfilling or under-filling your package can cause damage during shipping. Fill in your empty spaces with crushed tissue paper or keep things snug.
- Choose the quickest shipping method available to ensure your gifts arrive in perfect condition.
HERE’S A FOOD GIFT PACKAGING FOR THE HOLIDAYS VIDEO – Step-by-step instructions!
2019 HOLIDAY COOKIE BOX – Just released by my favorite food blogger!
I’ve been following an incredibly creative gal named Tiegan Gerard for a few years now. Her popular food blog, Half Baked Harvest features really original recipes, plus she’s an accomplished photographer.
Receiving her posts in my inbox and her photography always makes me hungry! She’s been on both the Food Network and The Cooking Channel and has been featured in tons of publications too.
With great relish, I look forward each year to the release of her new “Holiday Cookie Box”. Every year Tiegan includes an amazing array of original Christmas cookies that are always delicious and gorgeous.
I’ll be trying a few of her great recipes this year, and thought that you’d enjoy checking them out also. Here’s the link to Half Baked Harvest’s 2019 Holiday Cookie Box post: https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/2019-holiday-cookie-box/
WHAT’S ON YOUR LIST OF RECIPES TO MAKE THIS SEASON?
I hope I answered your questions about food gift packaging for the holidays and what to include in your gifts. Not only that, but also exactly how to package them to get there in one piece! Did you check out all the food gift packaging for the holidays that were included in the picture gallery? Were you inspired? I hope so!
What kind of cookies, cakes and treats will you be making this holiday season? Do you have some family recipes that you make every year without fail? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below this post or better yet, over at The Fab Life Facebook Group!
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