How To Build a Better Holiday Cookie Tin, According to Our Food Editor

Taste is most important, but Southern bakers know presentation also matters.

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cookie tin
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Truth be told, when you pry the lid off a tin of homemade chocolate chip cookies, you really aren't too concerned with how those sweet treats are arranged. The idea behind a cookie tin is, after all, to simply package and transfer delicious cookies to the lucky recipient. But Southern bakers all agree that when baking, presentation is often just as important as the quality of the baked item (hence the number of epic come-aparts we have when our pound cakes fall apart even though they still taste delicious). Like unlocking Grandma's heirloom jewelry box, opening a holiday cookie tin should elicit exclamations of wonder and excitement. If you go to the trouble of baking cookies to give to friends and loved ones, follow these unofficial rules for building a better cookie tin.

Choose the Right Mix of Cookies

A tin filled with just one type of cookie is always welcome, but a tin filled with an assortment of holiday cookie favorites is always a crowd pleaser. Avoid any gooey bars, sticky frostings, or candy-coated goodies that could melt and cause a mess. Instead, select a mix of butter-based cookies, thick, chewy bars and squares, or crunchy biscotti. A variety of textures makes for an interesting tin, so add cookies with eye appeal. We like Linzer cookies and thumbprints with jewel-toned jam filling, pecan sandies with toasted nuts, and literally any cookie sprinkled with colored sanding sugar.

Christmas Cookie Boxes

Protect Your Cookies

Whether you use a metal tin or a sturdy, decorative box, you want to arrange your cookies so that nothing breaks while in transit. If your tin or box is too big or deep for the number of cookies you will be packaging, line the bottom with sheets of crinkled tissue paper. Always line cardboard containers with parchment or waxed paper and, to make an airtight tin more interesting, line the bottom and sides with corrugated paper.

Layer cookies between sheets of waxed or parchment paper to keep them from sticking together or losing crispness. Envelop your cookies in tissue paper or buffer them using dividers made from short lengths of corrugated paper. Holiday-themed cupcake liners are great for stacking and separating different types of cookies.

Design Your Own Cookie Holiday Package

Similar to packing clothes in a suitcase, there are different ways to package cookies to keep them safe and to maximize storage space. You can slip a stack of cookies into a cellophane sleeve and tie it together with baker's twine or colorful ribbon, accent glass jars with holiday ribbons, gently stuff your treats into a decorative coffee cup, or line a box with patterned doilies or cupcake liners.

If a friend or family member has moved into a new home, you may want to give an extra housewarming gift along with the cookies. Kitchen molds, utensil crocks, or cake or loaf pans wrapped with colorful ribbons make attractive gift containers, and they serve the recipient long after the cookies are devoured.

Add a Holiday Message

Personalize your gift by slipping a card into your tin or container. You might include a short holiday message or saying, a fun family photo, or a straight-from-the-heart letter. Your thoughtfulness will make those cookies that much sweeter.

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