In theory, there’s nothing better than giving thoughtful, homemade DIY gifts during the holidays. In reality, it can be tricky, especially when it comes to edible gifts. When should you make them? How long do they stay fresh? And how do you package them so they look cute and delicious?
This year, master the art of edible Christmas gifts you can make in advance. Here’s how to plan a gift-giving strategy that turns homemade treats into perfect DIY gifts for friends.
Make a Plan to Give Edible Gifts
Make a list, and check it twice. When you create your gift list this year, include a section for people who love to receive edible gifts. People who probably aren’t going into this section include your kids (Um, no thanks mom), your spouses or partners (I’ll pass), your mom (Really? This is it?), or anyone who lives outside a reasonable, hand-delivery radius. Wrapped edible gifts are perfect for friends, neighbors, doctors, mail carriers, teachers, party hostesses—anyone you see on a regular basis who you can hand a homemade gift.
Get the goods. There are three basic essentials for creating edible gifts: the right tools, fresh ingredients, and cute gift packages to put them in. You probably have lots of the tools you need, you can always add to your baking arsenal. Make sure you have all the tools your desired treats require, from rolling pins to loaf, donut, and cake pans that are both on trend and perfect for gifting. When it comes to ingredients, it depends on what kind of treats you want to bake and gift. Breads? Pies? Cakes? Cookies are a perennial favorite, but mini cakes and pies are the new fruitcake. Once you decide on your treat, hit the shops to grab what you need.
Perfect Timing for Delivering Edible Gifts
Time it right. When it comes to edible gifts, timing is everything. Bake too early during the holiday season and risk giving gifts that aren’t fresh. Bake too late and spend your last few days before the holidays frantically gifting baked goods that get pushed to the “community treats” table during holiday get-togethers. The best time to bake and gift is early to mid-December, so you can deliver the goodies while you’re out and about without rushing.
Quick & Easy Treats
Need inspiration for treats to make and share? Here’s some video inspiration for perfect little edible gifts!
Caramel Latte Bread
Chai Spice Mini Bundts
Apple Beer Bread Mini Loaves
Plan an afternoon of baking—and make it fun. Grab your tools, pre-heat the oven, and start baking. Maybe even toss on your favorite holiday film in the background! The kinds of treats you’re making will determine what your spread looks like. Whatever you make, you don’t have to do it alone. Grab the kids, a roommate, or your spouse, and put them to work! They can glaze a Bundt cake or mix batter. The key to kids is to give them a job and let them own it. Nobody said you have to gift all the treats! Save the most “creative” ones and add them to your kids’ lunch boxes as special items in those last few days of school before winter break.
Finally, the fun part: Gift packages. For treats with delicate frosting, like cupcakes, a sturdy individual box might be the way to go, while something that holds its shape like a mini bread life can show off its colors and be just fine wrapped up in plastic.
Box & bag it up. Customizable gift boxes work for all kinds of treats—mini cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and more. You name it: It can sit, fit, and be protected in a gift box. Plus, decorating gift boxes is another fun activity for kids—or yourself. This is like taking adult coloring books to a whole new level. Color, stamp, glue, glitter, and decorate to your inner artist’s desire. For sturdier treats, break out your ribbons and bows and bag up them up in plastic. Wrap your most festive colors around the top, and and maybe even tie a small kitchen tool for an extra treat.
Make special deliveries. Once wrapped up, edible gifts will stay fresh from anywhere from two to seven days, a great time frame for passing them out. You could even place them all in your back seat or trunk and deliver to friends, neighbors, teachers, and so on over the course of a week. Keep a box of your holiday cards close by, and hand-deliver the items together. To help your kids see how special it makes someone feel to receive a thoughtful, homemade gift, take them along to make special deliveries, too.
Oh, and there’s one step—taste testing! But you can probably figure out the best time to add that into the process. Happy gifting!
This post has been updated since in was originally publish in October 2017.