Whether you're gathering with neighbors for the annual holiday party or talking on the phone to grandparents across the country, the holidays are a time of togetherness and sharing. What better way to show your love than giving the gift of homemade cookies or other holiday treats, made with care—and the very best ingredients, of course! After all, the most important thing during the holidays is sharing the best foods, to savor the good times spent with all the people you love most. Read on for two dozen of our favorite homemade treats, as well as ideas on how to wrap, decorate and ship them!
The Gift of Holiday Cookies
Nothing announces the holiday season like a platter of delicious cookies just waiting for eager hands. Making cookies with family and friends is truly the gift of time spent together: play some carols or your favorite holiday movie in the background, assemble all your ingredients and tools, tie on an apron and spend an afternoon scooping, rolling and making magical memories!
Make It Easy: Host a Cookie Exchange
One easy (and fun) way to make a huge variety of cookies is to host a cookie exchange. There are two types of cookie exchanges: one where everyone brings their finished treats, and one where you bake together as a group. We admit, we love gifting treats to others and spending time together baking, so we lean toward the second type. With everyone working together and sharing their favorite recipes, you can create gifts for everyone on your list in a single afternoon! Our top tips to streamline the process:
- Decide on the recipes beforehand: Assign everyone ingredients or decorative touches to bring
- Be conscious of any dietary restrictions: Make gluten free and gluten full cookies separately or at different times, to prevent cross contamination, and keep those ingredients (and the tools you use with them) separate as well
- Read the recipes for timing: Some doughs need to be refrigerated for a few hours before shaping and baking, anything with yeast will need at least an hour to rise, and most baked goods need ample time to cool before frosting
- Have people bring containers: Check out some of our ideas below, so everyone can wrap their gifts!
There are so many ways to make a cookie exchange memorable. Ask everyone their favorite holiday songs and create a playlist, have coffee, tea and mulled cider ready, and set out simple, mess-free snacks to keep everyone fueled, like these Gluten Free Pigs in a Blanket.
We have a few favorite ways to wrap cookies to gift them for the holidays: which way you choose will depend on the type of cookie you're baking, and how far they have to travel.
Foolproof Ways to Wrap Cookies: Festive Bags
Sturdy holiday cookies that aren't highly decorated are wonderful for gift bags. Some of our favorites are our classic gluten free Sparkling Stars and Snowflakes, made gluten free with our Natural Almond Flour, ground from whole almonds, and these versatile, classic Shortbread Cookies, featuring our high-quality Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour. If you're looking for variety in a hurry, take a peek at our master recipe for Slice and Bake Shortbread Cookies. One simple dough makes four different holiday cookies: Holiday Sprinkles, Fruit & Pistachio, Peppermint Cocoa, and Pumpkin Pecan. Need them to be gluten free? Simply swap the all-purpose flour with Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour cup-for-cup for fantastic flavor and texture, without the wheat.
- Stack your cookies and tie with twine
- Slide into a bag such as paper or cellophane
- Close bag securely—don’t forget to add a gift tag (you can find print-at-home tags here)
- Make it merry: decorate with greenery or cinnamon sticks, attaching with a glue gun or adhesive of choice
- Repeat with your remaining cookies and go spread some holiday cheer!
Box up Some Holiday Treats
When gifting holiday cookies that are fragile or feature a lot of decorations, you'll want to wrap them with care in a sturdy box. While we have full instructions showing a simple kraft paper box in our Gift Giving Guide, there are several beautiful ways to package these creations:
Easy Holiday Cookie Containers
- Paper boxes: A classic, and easy to find online or at craft stores
- Holiday tins: Here's a #ProTip: visit your local dollar store (the earlier in the season the better), they usually have all kinds of bright, beautiful tins in a variety of sizes
- Upcycled goods: Keep an eye out for things you already have that you can repurpose, like a candy box or glass jar that you can decorate with wrapping paper, ribbon and greenery
- Cookies & cocoa mug: Find a cute holiday mug to fill with cookies, and gift to a friend alongside some homemade hot cocoa mix!
Box and tin-worthy treats include Gluten Free Danish Butter Cookies (perfect for a round tin), which taste just like the Christmas classic, but are gluten free thanks to our expertly blended Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. Another huge favorite here at the mill are these Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal Lace Cookies, made with the magic of browned butter, Organic Unbleached All Purpose White Flour, melted chocolate and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
Fragile-yet gorgeous Raspberry Almond Linzer Cookies are also ideal for boxing: to keep them in place, place them in regular or mini paper cupcake liners, depending on the size of your cookies. Frosted cookies like these Gingerbread Cookies and Frosted Sugar Cookies make gorgeous gifts and are also gluten free (Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour wields its magic once again), although you can substitute our high-quality Organic Unbleached All Purpose White Flour in equal amounts if you prefer.
We recommend no more than two layers of treats per box, separated by layers of parchment paper!
Effortless Holiday Dessert Gifts
Experiential gifts like beautiful handmade baked goods are so special. Plus, when you make them with top-notch ingredients, you can make them right the first time. Having ingredients on hand you can trust makes it easier to cream, mix, blend and bake in your own kitchen, so you can find just the right recipe for that favorite teacher, or track down great-grandma's secret fruitcake recipe to pass on to the next generation.
Keep It Simple: Make the Baking Dish Part of the Gift
We're all about streamlining the gift baking process here at Bob's Red Mill, so you can spend more quality time with friends and family (and eat all these goodies). One way to get a head start is to bake using decorative containers that become part of the gift you share, like:
- Holiday foil tins: You can find brightly colored and decorated foil tins in all shapes and sizes for loaf cakes, pies, cinnamon rolls and more at dollar stores and online—some come complete with lids, too!
- Paper baking pans: If you prefer something compostable, there is a world of paper baking pans online, including those shaped like Christmas trees. Before you bake, check to see if there's a temperature range you need to follow to prevent burning
- Giftable baking dishes: If your recipient also loves to bake, you can source beautiful ceramic, metal or glass baking dishes that they can use after they've eaten your gift—check baking supply stores, vintage stores or your own cupboards (aren't we all decluttering?)
These types of giftable holiday baking dishes are ideal for loaf cakes, including this Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Pound Cake. Rich with cocoa powder with a hint of mint, this incredible cake is made with a mixture of our finely ground, buttery Almond Flour and Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, perfectly mixed to give gluten free baked goods the texture and flavor of traditional treats. This Gluten Free Fruitcake is a wonderful choice for three reasons: unlike traditional fruitcake it doesn't need to cure for three months, it can be baked up as three mini loaves (perfect for gifting), and it uses dried fruit instead of candied. For a version that uses our no-fail Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour, see our recipe for Mini Christmas Fruitcakes, filled with golden raisins, dried pineapple, rum and crunchy almonds.
Round or square baking dishes are ideal for these Cinnamon Rolls. Made with our pantry favorite Organic Unbleached All Purpose White Flour and redolent with softened butter, spicy cinnamon and heavy cream, these melt-in-your mouth rolls are a welcome sight at any time of the day! We suggest doubling or tripling the recipe and dividing the rolls between multiple pans to get all your gift baking done in one afternoon.
Other delicious desserts that can be baked up in decorative tins or pans include this delightful Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Maple Oat Streusel and our Rhubarb Almond Cake. Made with fresh rhubarb and sliced almonds, this cake features our gold-standard Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour as well as our rich, nutty Almond Flour. To make it gluten free, simply replace the all-purpose flour with Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
Share a Basketful of Holiday Gifts
Why not showcase your handiwork by gifting it in a beautiful gift basket? Here are our top tips:
- Use basket filler—tiny shreds of crinkled paper—in the bottom to cushion your baked goods, or use a holiday kitchen towel or tissue paper
- Wrap your basket in cellophane to protect it from the elements: place a large sheet under the basket and gather it up into a "pouf" at the top, securing with a twist tie
- Include some handwritten recipe cards! You can find Bob's Red Mill printable recipe cards here
- Top it off with a pretty bow and some greenery. Buy bows at discount stores, or follow this simple tutorial to make a bow with wired ribbon
- Always support the basket from the bottom while you transport it, you don't want to lose your gorgeous treats on the way from your car to the party
Our simple-yet-stunning Apple Galette deserves a place in your next basket! A rustic crust made with Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour is filled with painstaking sliced, artfully arrange apples. This Pecan Kringle is also a thoughtful way to show your love. This classic Wisconsin pastry is filled with cinnamon and pecans, rolled, and then baked into a ring shape.
#ProTip: To offer more support for desserts baked on a baking sheet instead of in a pan, consider placing them on a cardboard cake board (they make them in silver and gold!) and wrap securely in plastic wrap or cellophane before adding to your basket.
Good ingredients make these homemade gift shine! We especially love the spicy, butter crust of this Cranberry Orange Cream Tart. Filled with sweet-tart custard and topped with sugared cranberries and whipped cream, it's the perfect gift to bring to a holiday party or potluck. Are your friends monitoring their macros? Consider this rich Keto Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, made with Almond Flour and sugar-free sweetener. This mashup of two decadent desserts—cheesecake and pecan pie—will get you on the "nice" list for years to come!
Make It Merry: Decorate Your Gifts
Your sweet treats are baked and cooled, and you're ready to make them shine by wrapping them with care! In addition to bows, gift tags and recipe cards, we love to use greenery to really make something special. Here are our favorite places to forage:
- Your own backyard: Check for year-around greenery like cedar, holly and camellia leaves, as well as pinecones and small, mossy sticks or twigs
- The grocery store: This is a fantastic resource for 100% food safe decorations like fresh bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon sticks and small citrus fruit like kumquats
- The florist: All the greenery your heart desires can be found here! Many florists even have ready-made swags around the holidays
- The craft store/dollar store: Artificial greenery and decor can be a busy elf's friend—it will stay lovely and "fresh" the entire season (and beyond), and dollar store ornaments are an easy and affordable way to decorate your gifts
- Online: Look here for bulk dried orange slices, twine, parchment paper and more
The Best Way to Ship Homemade Holiday Cookies
All of these suggestions are great if you're bringing gifts to local loved ones. But what about your college roommate across the country or your nieces and nephews a few hours away? We went to the experts, UPS, and got some tips on how to ship holiday cookies safely and securely. You can read the full details on their site, but these were our main takeaways:
- Cool your cookies completely to avoid condensation and soggy treats
- Wrap each cookie separately in plastic
- Cushion an airtight container with packing paper or bubble wrap
- Pack the heaviest cookies on the bottom and build up
- Place your airtight container in a cardboard box, filling any extra space with bubble wrap or paper
- Mark your box "Perishable" and "This Way Up"
We would also recommend shipping several weeks before the holidays—not only will you dodge the crowds, but you'll avoid paying extra to make sure they get there on time! If you're ready to level up and ship food that's more complicated or fragile (or frozen), read UPS's recommendations here.
Of course, the most important part of the holidays is the moments you'll share with the people you love, memories that last long after the final cinnamon roll is claimed and the cookies have all been eaten. At Bob's Red Mill, we're so grateful to be part of your holiday traditions. It's important to us to bring you good ingredients, tested over time and created with your needs in mind—so you can take care of others. We wish you a happy, memorable holiday season!