2008-12-25 / Features

Home-baked Goodies Deserve Special Presentation

By Jennifer Forker FOR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

If baked goods are part of your gifting game plan this holiday, have you thought about how to package them?

Knowing that presentation is key to the "wow" factor, I consulted a few crafting experts about how to package homebaked goodies. First, I spoke with the pros at Martha Stewart Living and Michaels crafts store. Then, I went to the top: I called my mother-in-law, Jeanne Smith of Boca Raton, Fla.

She"s a crafting genius, always adding an elegant touch to the scarves she knits and the organdy gift bags she sews. For the holidays, she bakes fudge _ 24 pounds of it this year, all bestowed upon nearby friends and far-flung family.

"My arms are killing me," she said recently, after stirring all that fudge.

As in years past, most of her fudge will be presented in decorated pails (made from gallonsize paint cans, under $4 each at Lowe"s). She sometimes leans toward a Nutcracker or "oldfashioned country" theme, but the idea lends itself to creative variety. And you can use any paper, ribbons and fabric you have at home.

But before I share with you the instructions for Jeanne"s Decorative Gift Pails, here are some other cookie-packaging ideas from Jo Pearson, Michaels" official Craft Expert; and Marcie McGoldrick, editorial director for holiday and crafts at Martha Stewart Living:

Personalize Chinese takeout boxes, cellophane or paper bags, decorative tins and boxes (all available at crafts stores). Use ribbons, line a container with fabric or a doily, or attach a recipe with a cookie cutter.

The folks at Martha Stewart Living currently are smitten with what McGoldrick called "Bentwood boxes": inexpensive chipwood boxes (available at crafts stores) in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Martha gang lines them with parchment paper or small cupcake liners.

Martha"s people also make a lovely gift by layering cookies in a compote dish (atop red shredded paper or Easter grass) and wrapping the entire presentation in cellophane tied with a ribbon.

Kids can decorate white paper bags or boxes with stickers. Or stamp them with holidaythemed cookie cutters dipped in paint.

Go a bit more elegant by lining your container with a new cloth napkin, dish towel or handkerchief that the recipient can reuse.

If you have time to bake, but no time to craft, McGoldrick suggested shopping at a kitchen supply store for novel packaging ideas. She also offered these Web sites: Paper Mart, The Container Store and GlerupRevere Packaging.

Jeanne"s Decorative Gift Pails

Supplies:

Gallon-size paint cans with lid and handle (quart size, without handle, also available at Lowe"s)

Holiday-themed paper (scrapbook, high-quality wrapping, etc.) or fabric

Ribbon in holiday colors

Adhesive, such as Aleene"s Tacky Spray or Tacky Glue, or a glue gun with glue sticks (use a Xyron adhesive machine, if you have one)

Scissors

Pencil

One-inch hole punch (optional)

Ornaments, cookie cutters, recycled greeting cards, etc. (optional)

Assembly:

1. Wash and dry unused paint can.

2. If using 12-by-12-inch scrapbook paper: Cut two 71/2-by-12- inch wide strips (from two sheets). Wrap each sheet around the can, marking the handle attachments on the paper. Using the 1-inch hole punch, make a hole for each handle attachment. Alternatively, mark the spot with pencil and cut out two small holes. Glue the paper to the can, overlapping 1/2 inch and cutting off the excess.

3. If using fabric: Cut one piece that"s 71/2-by-211/2 inches. Wrap it around the can and mark the handle attachments" locations. Here"s the tricky part: Poke a hole where you think the center of the handle attachment is and, rotating out from this center, make 6 tiny incisions; repeat at the other handle attachment. This ought to make it possible to slip the fabric over these two "bump-out" spots on the can. Glue the fabric to the can, overlapping 1/2 inch.

4. For the lid: Trace the lid onto paper or fabric, cut it out, then cut it down to size, to fit inside the lid. (If you use a coordinating pattern, find one with holiday sentiments, so your lid can convey your greeting.) Attach.

5. Decorate as desired. Some ideas: ribbon or rickrack glued around the top of the pail or wrapped along the handle; a strand of plastic beads glued into the lid"s gutter; flat ornaments, colorful buttons or a holiday decoration glued to the sides or lid; a satin ribbon tied around the middle of the can. (Check the dollar bins at crafts stores for other ideas.)

6. For the inside: Line the sides of the can with wax paper and stuff the bottom of the can with wax or tissue paper (to take up space, if necessary). Alternatively, wrap the goodies in plastic and tuck inside a pretty cloth napkin placed inside the can.

Return to top