With the holidays upon us and the idea of homemade gifts, I thought it'd be fun to talk about packaging!
I'm always on the lookout for simple packaging materials for gifting cookies and other treats. There's absolutely nothing wrong with putting some goodies on a paper plate for your next door neighbor or reaching for the zip lock bags or foil, but in instances where you're doing a little more advance planning, or for special occasions, you may want to pretty things up a bit.
We eat with our eyes first and I think presentation is important since it adds to the pleasure of both giving and receiving. But at the same time, I'm not overly creative and not one to spend time crafting my own packaging no matter how "easy" it's supposed to be. Nor do I want to spend an unreasonable amount of money. So I keep things simple, generally relying on a handful of basic packaging supplies that I thought would be fun to share with you here today. Here are my basic packaging standbys:
1. Cellophane bags. This is my go-to packaging item. I have plenty of clear cellophane bags I use to quickly package cookies to my friends and family. For years I bought bags from Sur La Table, a store I could spend hours in, but recently, I've taken to buying the less-expensive version at Michael's. The ones at Michael's are not quite as clear but they are more than good enough for the job. I may use the twist ties that come with these bags or use a colorful ribbon.
2. Glassine envelops. These glassine envelops or bags are great for packaging one large, or a few smaller, cookies, some nuts, or a slice of loaf cake. I like these transparent ones that are greaseproof from Sur La Table (though I sometimes also wrap the cookies or cake in a piece of wax paper for additional protection). You can also get these types of envelops in various colors from Shop Sweet Lulu and Bake It Pretty.
3. Cellophane wrap. This may be a bit more "old-school" but rolls of cellophane wrap could be particularly useful around the holidays if you are planning to gift bigger trays of cookies and the like. I buy mine from my local Michael's and simply tie the package together with a ribbon.
Set your goodies on a plate or embellish it with a piece of doily before wrapping.
4. Wax paper. I never used wax paper (always bought parchment paper only) until last year when a friend gifted me a loaf of her husband's homemade bread wrapped in wax paper. I wondered why I'd never thought of using simple wax paper for packaging before! Since then, I stock and use wax paper regularly. It's more pliable than parchment and cheaper, too. For things like banana bread, I wrap it tightly in plastic wrap first, then in wax paper, held together with a piece of twine or a ribbon.
5. Baker's boxes. Who wouldn't love to receive a box of homemade goodies. It really says "special" to me when something comes in a gift box. I like to line the box in some colored tissue paper but set my goodies on top of a sheet of wax paper first.
If possible, buy boxes in various sizes, shapes, colors, styles. I also have some cupcake boxes around the house too. I like small flat ones with a window (below) for items like truffles that I nest in miniature cupcake liners.
I also like clear acrylic boxes. If you're lucky, you can find them in craft stores.
I buy various cake or baker's boxes at craft stores, the Container Store, and the packaging sites I mentioned above.
6. Stickers and labels. I love stickers and labels! I buy labels and gift tags from Martha Stewart and Papyrus that I can simply write on. I bought an embosser from William Sonoma a while back and I do use it occasionally but it doesn't work as well as I'd like it to (the overall imprint doesn't come out quite even). Along with stickers and labels, stock up on different color ribbons too.
- Click on for a few more ideas...
6. Ice cream containers. I recently discovered Garnish and I really like their simple, classy packaging. I particularly like the kraft and white boxes and since I started making my own ice cream this summer, I've bought ice cream containers and wooden spoons. These are great for ice cream, obviously, but you can also fill them with soup, cookies, candies, nuts, popcorn, or whatever your creative mind comes up with.
7. Pre-made gift packaging sets. I love Martha Stewart and you can buy packaging sets that include things like gift bags or boxes with tissue paper, ribbon and gift tags all together. I look for these at Michael's craft stores (use those Michael's coupons!). I also recently bought some paper baking containers, with lids, from King Arthur. I don't really like paper loaf pans because of the shape (very sturdy and good looking but too narrow in my opinion) but other small bake & give type baking pans are so convenient since you can bake directly in them and present it as a gift by wrapping it up or popping on the lid and adding ribbon and maybe a gift tag.
8. Use gift boxes as trays. Have you ever wanted to share some muffins or a few slices of cake or pie (can't exactly wrap) with someone who lives relatively close by but far enough that you need to drive to? I've discovered that half a gift box can be very handy when it comes to transporting these ad-hoc goodies if you're simply dropping them off to a friend. Drop a large doily or tissue paper in the bottom and nest your treats inside and you essentially have a disposable tray. So hang on to your gift boxes this Christmas and re-use them this way! I hope I remember...
8. Permanent containers. For special occasions, make your packaging part of the gift. Buy clear glass containers or jars that not only showcase your treats and store them airtight, but can also be re-used by the recipient.
My ideas are far from adventurous or inventive so if anyone has simple and inexpensive ideas, or know of good packaging supply sources/website, I'd really love to know!