Christmas present

Photo: Sang An

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Gift Givers, Start Your Ovens...
What's the perfect present? One that won't need to be returned. Last year it was the shirt in the wrong color; the holiday before, there was the book he already owned. But we have a solution: seven easy recipes guaranteed to please even the Scrooge-iest people on your list. "Finding presents for people who have everything can be a real challenge," says Liz Pearson, who developed the festive recipes on the following pages. "So I do food gifts—it's so much easier and less stressful. Everyone eats."

Even the process of shipping breakable, perishable items can be mess-proof if you keep these recommendations in mind: First, let everything cool completely. "Don't jump the gun; that's when things smear and break," Pearson says. Then make sure you have a container that's functional (food-safe and airtight) and nonbreakable. Next, arrange the food snugly inside—cookies packed too loosely are likely to arrive as crumbs—and put the container in a shipping box with plenty of packing material, like Bubble Wrap.

Want one more excuse to clear your countertops and spend a few hours in the kitchen, listening to holiday music? "People remember the gifts you made yourself—and remember you for them," Pearson says. "It's a sure bet."