You don't have to spend a fortune at the mall in search of perfect Christmas gifts. Quite often, the most priceless treasures are your own homemade cookies and candies presented in decorative tins or in one of the pretty packages suggested below.
You'll have a handle on decorating gifts from the kitchen if you rely on baskets. They come in a wide variety of styles, shapes and sizes and are commonly found at craft and variety stores. So be on the lookout for them throughout the year. And save any baskets you've acquired either from a gift you've received or from a purchase you've made yourself.
Line the basket with white or colored tissue paper, then top with cookies that have been bundled in plastic wrap. Place the basket on a large piece of clear, colored or patterned cellophane; bring the edges of the cellophane up and tie with a ribbon. Add a decorative bow if desired.
- At Christmastime, craft and variety stores sell different papier-mache boxes that are perfect for gift-giving. You can stack cookies in boxes that are lined with wax-coated tissue paper. (Wax-coated tissue paper can be found at specialty cooking stores. It's sturdier than regular tissue paper and won't absorb the cookies' flavors and oils.) If you care to show your creativity, spray-paint the box and/or stamp it with festive designs. Let the box dry completely before adding tissue paper and cookies.
- Only a little dressing up is needed when you fill inexpensive clear jars with colorful snack mixes and individually wrapped candies. Simply tie a festive ribbon and some tiny ornaments around the top for an easy-to-prepare present.
- Decorative tins, plates and candy dishes can often be found at bargain prices throughout the year at stores and rummage sales and at after-Christmas sales. Keep them on hand for last-minute gifts.
- Stack cookies in wide-mouth canning jars, cover the lids with fabric and screw on the band. You may also want to include the recipe for the cookies.
- Instead of discarding potato chip cans, coffee tins or shortening cans, wash them, decorate the outside with wrapping paper or Con-Tact paper and fill with cookies or candies. Attach a bow to the lid and close.
- Wrap cookies in plastic wrap, place a bow on top and tuck inside a pretty coffee mug or teacup.