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How to pack up homemade food gifts

Homemade treats are one of the best gifts you can give during the holidays. Not only are they usually very budget-friendly, but they also show your giftee that you put time and a personal touch into their gift. You can’t beat that for holiday spirit, whether you’re taking a platter of goodies to a family party or bringing a simple box of snacks to a good friend.

I’ve discussed some tips for shipping homemade baked goods before, but the most important part of sending the goods (apart from actually making them) is packaging them up properly so they arrive tasting just as good as when they left your kitchen. These packaging tips apply whether you are simply carrying goodies along with you or putting them in the mail.

The single most important thing to do is put your treats in an airtight container. This will keep cookies and cakes moist and fresh, and it does make a difference even when you’re only taking the dessert a short distance. Chewy cookies will stay chewy, or become even softer, and cakes will remain tender, not dry. It’s a good idea for candies, too, although the purpose of an airtight container in this case is to prevent the candies from retaining excess moisture and becoming wet or soggy. Use wax or parchment paper to layer the treats and keep things from sticking together. Here is a rundown of a few easy and airtight packaging options for homemade food gifts:

  • The simplest way to wrap up a treat is to put it in a Ziploc bag. It’s not the most attractive option, but inexpensive and very effective. It’s a good choice if you’re mailing goodies and the look of the package isn’t a priority.
  • Another option is to buy some semi-reusable (they’re usually disposable, but can be hand washed and reused) Tupperware-type boxes and pack the treats up in them. They’re made by Ziploc and Glad, as well as some other companies, and are widely available. These mail well, protecting goodies from damage, and can double as serving trays at parties. You can also leave them behind without a thought, since they’re quite inexpensive, especially compared to real Tupperware dishes.
  • If you’re carrying treats by hand, buy some inexpensive holiday plates (either ceramic or paper), pile your treats on and wrap in plastic wrap. The plate adds a nice little holiday flair and, again, you don’t have to worry about bringing it home again.

Finally, you can always take the the easy way out and buy some prepackaged treats and just send those out. I like to try to find regional snacks top ship out, or things from home (wherever that might be) that a particular friend or relative might miss. For instance, TastyKakes make a super simple gift for those who grew up in the Philadelphia area and now live elsewhere. Trader Joe’s treats are a good option, too, since they put the extra effort into making their holiday treats nice and offering a gourmet selection at a good price.

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  • Eagle
    December 16, 2008

    I absolutely love the glad and ziploc containers. I managed to send homemade whoopie pies a few states away via USPS ‘overnight’ service and they arrived whole and fresh even though they didn’t arrived for 5 days…

    Another recommendation is to use waxed paper or parchment paper inside whatever containers you use, it can help buffer the contents and also keep things a bit fresher.

  • megan
    December 16, 2008

    Thank you for posting this! I am making several batches of fudge and truffles for friends and family and this will come in handy when I deliver them as these candies can be tricky to package. You’re quite helpful 🙂

  • Joanna
    December 17, 2008

    i definitely agree with the ziploc bags!! nothing beats those suckers. i mail treats to iraq every month and those bags keep all the sand out.

    all my friends are getting homemade bread from me this year. i figure everyone likes food, so why not.

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