This is the ultimate holiday cookie box guide on creating a stress-free Christmas gift box using just one cookie recipe. It's packed full of traditional Alsatian cookies that will surely please everyone.
Every year, in December, I set aside a couple of days just for baking cookies. But, unfortunately, I was so busy last year (2020) that I couldn’t bake up any cookies.
This year is different because you can get your hands on some of these delicious homemade cookies from me and ship them out to friends and family members. You won't want to miss out on this opportunity!
I decided to create a guide on making the best holiday cookie box. It seems easy, but you have many questions when you get to the point. So let's answer all of them.
What kind of cookies to include
My first tip? Keep it as simple as possible. You don't need a dozen different cookies. You maybe need something like five or six total, different shapes, sizes, and flavors.
Or better it is to stick with one cookie recipe and make ten or more cookie variations.
The thought of working from 9 to 5 five days a week or being the one staying at home and taking care of small kids can seem overwhelming.
It seems impossible that you will ever find time to bake five types of cookies with all your responsibilities!
But what if I offer you a recipe for generic cookie dough (yes, just ONE cookie dough) and show you how to customize your cookies?
This year I chose the easiest cookies to make called spritz bredele. The cookie dough comes out in 10 to 15 minutes; no chilling is required.
And with a manual cookie maker or an old-fashioned meat grinder and cookie attachment, a huge batch of cookies is ready within an hour.
It takes 10 to 13 minutes for one baking sheet of cookies to bake. So while you are baking one batch of cookies, you are piping out the second one - ready and waiting its turn!
How many cookies to make
It really depends upon how many and what kind of boxes you want to make.
One batch of spritz cookies consists of 70 small cookies. So, I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and ended up with about 100 cookies.
It was enough to beautifully arrange cookies in a white frame box by Celebrate It™ (10" x 12" x 2" or 25 x 30 x 5 cm) or fill two 8-inch/20 cm metal cookie tins.
So, now you know how many cookies to make. Double or triple the recipe and enjoy one cookie dough.
If you decide to make light and chocolate spritz cookies, you must mix the dough twice.
How to schedule your baking
You can make your cookies and decorate them in a day. Or you can spread your cookie-making out over two days.
Here is your schedule.
Day #1: a cookie baking day.
On the first day, make the "mother" spritz dough, pipe the cookies of different shapes, and bake them all.
If you decide to make chocolate cookies, take the second batch of dough (the chocolate one) and finish it on the same day.
Day #2: a cookie decorating day.
On that day, decorate your baked cookies and put together the cookie boxes later that day.
Decorating cookies is a fun activity, so gather the family or kids to help. Licking the melted chocolate is guaranteed!
And don't forget to read the spritz bredele cookie recipe before you start.
Please make sure you fully understand the involved steps and how much time it takes to make the cookies.
What you will need
Making cookies seems like you need so much “stuff,” but it’s not bad at all.
Here’s a list of what equipment you will need to make the cookies:
- kitchen scale,
- or measuring cups and spoons
- stand mixer
- rubber spatula
- mixing bowls
- flour sifter
- parchment paper
- rimmed baking sheet
- wire rack
- manual cookie maker, or
- meat grinder with a cookie attachment, or
- reusable pastry bag and open star pastry tip
- oven mitts
Just a few words about a kitchen scale. Baking is a science, and to achieve the best results, I highly recommend investing in a kitchen scale. This Escali digital kitchen scale is the one I use.
Just think about it - what one person scoops into a measuring cup is different from what someone else scoops!
Here is a list of what you will need to decorate the cookies:
- white chocolate
- dark chocolate
- slivered almonds, chopped
- raw pistachios, chopped
- shredded coconut
- freeze-dried raspberries
- chocolate vermicelli sprinkles
Of course, you can shorten and lengthen this list in the way you desire. These are just an example of ingredients to decorate your cookies.
The more decorating ideas you have, the more variable your cookies will be.
Let's say that you can add milk chocolate and ruby chocolate. Or add poppy seeds and chopped pecans.
How to decorate Christmas cookies
I highly recommend putting your decorating ideas down on paper; otherwise, you will be thinking about what idea to pick up next while holding a bowl with melted chocolate.
Let's make a list of possible decorating options for spritz bredele cookies.
- Drizzle melted white chocolate over cookies.
- Drizzle melted dark chocolate over cookies.
- Drizzle both, dark and white chocolate.
- Dip cookies in melted white chocolate.
- Dip cookies in white chocolate and sprinkle them with chopped almonds.
- Dip cookies in white chocolate and sprinkle them with chopped pistachios.
- Dip cookies in white chocolate and sprinkle them with shredded coconut.
- Dip cookies in dark chocolate and sprinkle them with chopped almonds.
- Dip cookies in dark chocolate and sprinkle them with chopped pistachios.
- Dip cookies in dark chocolate and sprinkle them with shredded coconut.
So, here are ten spritz cookies variations. If you make chocolate cookies, repeat the same decoration ideas, and you will end up with 20 different cookies in total!
Be sure to let the chocolate set completely before you pack your holiday cookies.
Expert tips in bulk:
- Leave some cookies plain: they have a nice texture to show up too.
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper before working with chocolate.
- Place all the cookies you want to drizzle on a baking sheet and proceed. You will only need to change the chocolate or use both to make the double drizzling.
- Keep some cookies dipped in chocolate and sprinkle other cookies with chopped nuts and shredded coconut.
- Arrange all the cookies to be sprinkled with chopped almonds on a separate baking sheet. All you need is just sprinkle that batch of cookies with one kind of nuts. Repeat the same with cookies sprinkled with chopped pistachios and shredded coconut.
What package to choose
A metal cookie tin is the best of being reusable and perfectly preserving the freshness of cookies.
A cardboard gift box from your local craft store will work well too. But I would suggest keeping your cookies in metal tins or airtight containers until you want to give cookies as a gift.
Basically, you want a large, shallow enough box or tray. For the box itself, I went to Michael's and found a white frame box that perfectly fitted 1.5 batches of cookies.
Alternatively, you can use a glass jar to place your cookies, a festive cookie box, a divided treat gift box, a treat bag with a plastic window, or a holiday cellophane bag.
When and how to style a cookie box
How far in advance could you bake your cookies? Ideally, two weeks in advance is the answer.
Make plain spritz cookies, keep them in metal tins or an airtight container until ready to decorate, or freeze cookies and decorate them later.
If you want to present the freshest cookies, bake and decorate them on the day you want to pack.
The most fun part is to put all the cookies together and assemble your cookie box. Of course, it has to look beautiful, visually pleasing.
That means that you need to section off the box by using holiday cookie tins, bakery boxes, crumpled wax paper, Tupperware boxes, cupcake liners, pieces of kraft cardstock, whatever you have on hand.
Line the box's bottom with tissue paper, parchment paper, napkins, paper shred filler, raffia paper ribbon, and stack cookies in different ways.
I started decorating my cookie box by placing ring cookies in the center, then proceeded to the corners and all around.
You can even add in little store-bought treats such as dried fruit, nuts, and candies to visually break up the space.
There is no right or wrong way to create your cookie box, so bring all your creativity up.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Arrange the cookies in variable ways by alternating cookies of different shapes, sizes and colours. Try to avoind a big section of cookies that look similar.
- Place a few cookies standing up. You can tie them with a ribbon or burlap twine.
- Place some cookies on their side. Use kraft cardstock to section off areas of the box.
- Use white cupcake liners to add visual appeal under some cookies.
- Add a few candy canes or peppermints, colored jingle bells, a baker’s twine, a festive ribbon, or even a couple of envelopes of hot cocoa mix to make your cookie box more festive and fun.
Finally, cover your cookie box with a lid, tie it up with a pink satin ribbon or raffia paper ribbon, fix artificial pine picks, and add a pretty greeting card I created for you.
More FREE printables are part of the Baking Like a Chef Club.
And to make the pleasure last, why not add a minimalist recipe card for these delicious cookies? Indeed, a gourmet and personalized gift!
Print it out on 8.5 x 11 white or kraft cardstock, cut, make a hole in the corner of the card with a paper punch, tie a bow with a ribbon.
If you don't want to share the whole recipe, write down what to expect in the box. Just remember that some people have allergies.
Also, feel free to download and print out "Baked with love" printable tags in the recipe for Vanilla Bean Cookies to decorate your cookie packaging.
How to pack and ship cookies
So, here is your first-created or maybe one of the prettiest Christmas cookie boxes you have ever made. It is perfect for presenting to your family and friends around.
But what if you need to ship your cookies? What are the best tips for sending picture-perfect cookies that will remain fresh? There are a few to follow.
Fill the bottom of the box or cookie tin with the shredded paper, then place a long piece of the parchment paper on top of the filler.
Next, arrange your cookies; separate cookies with small parchment squares if you need to stack them.
Cover cookies with the sides of parchment and seal with a sticker. Tie the box with a burlap twine to secure it.
Finally, you need to fill the bottom of the bigger box with plenty of packing material (for example, bubble wrap), place your gift cookie box or tin, and surround it with packing material. Finally, seal it with festive tape.
Now, try to shake your box to ensure that the gift box inside the package doesn't move! And don't forget to write FRAGILE on top!
Yes, you are ready to ship your cookies. But, please, ship using Priority Mail (USPS Priority if you live in the States).
Happy cookie box-making!
Frequently asked questions
The straight answer is from one to three, but the maximum is five or six.
Store plain, undecorated cookies in metal tins or airtight containers or freeze cookies if possible.