The parties are planned, you'll soon be making merry—and when your host greets you, these sweet, petite treats, gussied up with help from an expert, will spread some very glad tidings indeed.

There's a special place in heaven for the bearer of homemade treats, and you'll score extra brownie points with these gifting tips from Elisabet der Nederlanden, author of Holiday Cookies.

1. Have a signature look.

Der Nederlanden recommends a chic monochromatic theme (as in, turquoise ribbon and tags on a glassine bag, or white ribbon and tags on a kraft paper box). "I also use baker's twine to secure a bonus gift, like a candy cane or a pretty ornament."

2. Give instructions.

With sweets (like truffles) that hold up better in the fridge, add a label including that info. Same for those that belong on the counter or taste best warmed up. And you'll definitely want to mention how long each treat will keep.

3. Forgo secret ingredients.

Speaking of labels, an ingredients list is also helpful so people with dietary restrictions know what they're getting. Try a digital template (search "printable baking labels" on Etsy) to give your package a sophisticated feel.

4. Chill out.

It's tempting to pack up your treats when they're fresh from the oven, but impatience can lead to soggy desserts. Der Nederlanden's general rule: Let baked goods sit until cooled and room temperature to the touch.

5. How to package mini pies.

If you're giving individual pies (about five inches in diameter), slide each into its own unbleached paper sandwich bag—place a pie-size piece of cardboard under the pastry if it needs support—and fold the opening over once or twice. Using a hole punch, make a hole (or two holes an inch apart) in the middle of the fold, then thread through a ribbon with a hanging gift tag attached.

6. The best practice for brownies.

When layering bars in a bakery box, line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving enough extra on each end to fold back over the contents of the box once it's filled. Then, under each layer of bars, place a piece of parchment that you've cut to the width of the bars, but longer on the sides—so the recipient can take hold of the two paper "tabs" to easily lift the goodies from the box. When the box is full, fold the lining paper over the top layer, close up the box, and tie it with a wide ribbon, tucking a gift tag beneath the ribbon.

Ready for more holiday baking inspiration? Check out a few of our favorite recipes below:

Photo: Martin Thompson
Mini Fig Tarts

Photo: Andrew Purcell
Cranberry-Pistachio Blondies

Photo: Con Poulos
Mini Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cakes

Photo: Con Poulos
Mini Fruit Tarts


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