This week is cookie theme week at 7Sisters, however I (following diligently on my Christmas calendar) was ahead of schedule and posted on mine last week (oops!) . You can find that fun post (with hilarious story and recipe) here. A quick gluten free tip to my fellow anti-wheaters out there... I gave some of the girls a cup of Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten free flour mixed with a tea of xanthan gum for them to bake my cookies. I'm so glad they were all up for making me a gluten free version of their cookies (or caramel, YUM) and took on the challenge, ALL of their cookies taste WONDERFUL!!! Thank you sisters!! :)
♥J described the cookie exchange perfectly in her post earlier this week. I can't say enough about having such wonderful encouraging friends who you know will pray for you and lift you up day by day! So thankful for all my wonderful friends, near and far. :)
Not wanting to deviate from the theme however, I wanted to share what I learned this year about cookie exchange packaging. Because, let's be honest. Sometimes it IS what's on the outside that counts....in this case at least.
So, below is my easy-to-follow, no-fail, six-step guide to memorable and delectable Christmas cookie packaging. Hopefully next year I will really be able to raise the bar using these tips instead of solely relying on a store bought Martha Stewart brand! I did raise the bar from my packaging last year, but I can always do better!
#1. A Catchy Container
You can use a Christmas box, a bell jar, a fancy Chinese take-out box, a tin, (even a Martha Stewart basic box is a good place to start!). At the 7Sisters cookie exchange, the containers were as different as we are! Not only is your pretty container a great way to present your cookies, but the giftee can re-use it in their decorating the next year, store Christmas ornaments in it, etc. etc. And using a pretty container doesn't mean you have to break the bank. You can find these for as little as a dollar at craft stores, particularly if you wait till closer to Christmas Day when everything is marked off! The Dollar Tree is a great place to find tins, and if you were feeling really creative, you could even buy the plain brown cardboard boxes found at craft stores for cheap and mod-podge them!
#2. Ribbon Wrap
Whether you tie it in a big bow on top, or a simple knot to the side, a pretty piece of ribbon always gets things looking more festive. And it doesn't even have to be ribbon either! Get creative and use some Christmas colored string or thread. If you crochet or knit, save your scraps or leftover skeins and use those to decorate your cookie container!
Nel had the most beautiful red birds on her fancy take-out boxes that matched her tags, it was so sweet! She used her cricut machine, but you could use anything from a pretty sticker, to a sweet monogram chipboard letter, to a fancy jingle bell tied to the ribbon. Whatever says "hi, this cookie box is from me, and you'd probably be able to guess it without me even signing my name" :)
#4. Tag it
#4 ties in with #3 and may even be synonymous in some cases. Take Mar for example, her personalization was all about the gift tag. She painstakingly printed and cut out each of our blog monikers to use on her tags! I can tell it's from her from how she tied on her ribbon (more on that below), and it was in a very sweet tin. If you have gorgeous handwriting like many of the sisters you can hand write your tags, but if you're more like me with a hideous Hancock, you could go the Mar route and print your tags! Don't stop there though, you can mount the tag on pretty paper, or even some shiny tin foil backed by some sturdy cardstock! Remember, your tag and your personalization is going to be your handmade stamp on the cookie package. Make it memorable! (It's funny that I'm thinking of this all now, after the fact, I could have done much better on my boxes - I will blame part of it on an unforeseen size issue of the first Martha boxes I got and then being in a flurry to put them together 15 min before the cookie exchange! eek! Better luck next year, I WILL top myself!)
#5. Ease of Opening
Ok, so you probably weren't expecting this category, but consider this; you receive a beautifully packaged cookie container from a friend. It looks SO beautiful that you imagine you would just faint at the sight of the cookies that could be inside. But it's so tied down with ribbon that you can't! What to do?! That's why I've included this category. After all, when you get right down to it, it IS about the cookies. Right? Or am I contradicting myself now? Anyway....As you can see from the photo on the left above, Mar had an ingenious idea for her ribbon (and also cost-saving as well, since you use less ribbon in this scenario!)- she tucked the ribbon under the top of the tin and taped it to the underside to keep it in place. Genius! The packages this year were great on this category, the jars were so easy to open and take a look at, the boxes and tins opened in a flash, allowing for easy drooling onto the cookies, and etc!
#6. Cookie Presentation
So, your giftee just easily opened your cookie container after oogling the packaging. But what do they find? Why, perfectly placed cookies, of course! Use mini cupcake sleeves to hold fudge, and as ♥J did, wrap candies in wax paper. Stagger your cookies if they are in a box to allow for easy and delicious viewing upon opening. Throw some Hershey Kisses in the mix if you have some gaps. Add pretty tissue paper to the bottom, and make sure to use wax paper between layers if you think your cookies will stick together! Be careful about putting strong contrasting flavors together (such as mint fudge and chocolate chip cookies- the chips in the cookies will take on the mint flavor). My Martha Stewart boxes were nice and deep, and I had some extra room after I put the top piece of tissue paper on, so I folded a lovely origami ornament to place on the top of the tissue paper, to be a surprise, and the first thing seen when opening my box!
Speaking of being all wrapped up, the poor Marshmallow had an incident with a pesky icicle and a persistent licker. He is healing quickly, but could use a little love this week.
Did anyone else participate in a cookie exchange this Christmas season? If so, please feel free to link to a photo/blog in the comments, I would LOVE to see and gather more ideas! I sure do need em to keep up with my sisters! :)
Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve!!