Gifts in a Jar - An excerpt from Christmas Cookies Are for Giving
Think you're too busy to make homemade gifts this year? Or maybe your recipient is too busy to bake?
“Cookies in a Jar” mixes are a great idea for a thoughtful homemade gift that will be appreciated by everyone. These are standard 1-quart mason jars filled with the ingredients to a cookie recipe placed in distinct layers that make a pretty horizontal stripe pattern. Sometimes these are referred to as “sand art” cookies because the jars resemble the handicrafts of that name.
To bake the cookies, your recipient need only follow the simple instructions printed on a card attached to the jar. Usually this involves mixing the contents of the jar with butter, an egg, and vanilla extract and then baking the cookies in the oven. Pretty, easy, and delicious—and hand made by you just for them! What could be better?
If you’d like to decorate your gift more creatively or stylishly, make a whole gift basket out of it that looks like it was done by a professional gift basket maker. Bake a batch of the cookies and put them in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon. Then, using the same recipe as the cookies you made, create a “gift in a jar” by layering the ingredients in a mason jar. Tie that with a ribbon with the directions for making the cookies attached. Print up the original recipe on a card for them to keep, and round out the gift basket with a large mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, and any other item needed to make the cookies such as a cookie cutter or cookie press. Top it off with a cookie cookbook (Christmas Cookies Are for Giving would be perfect!) Place all this in a large basket and wrap the basket with cellophane. Tie a fancy bow around the basket, and your gift is ready to give.
While these gifts are very simple to make, there are a few rules to follow to make them work properly. Here are some tips on how to make your gifts in a jar tasty and beautiful.
You can turn your favorite recipes into “Gifts in a Jar” as long as the total of dry ingredients is 1 quart (4 cups) or less. You may have to cut your current recipe by half or one third to get the correct amount of dry ingredients but it will work. Remember to adjust the amounts of wet ingredients needed when writing out your directions to place on the jar. Or, rather than cutting your recipe you can use the larger 2-quart mason jars and if there is any space left at the top of the jar, pack it tightly with tissue paper or add a few extra nuts or chocolate chips—this adds pizzazz!
Source: Christmas Cookies Are for Giving by Kristin Johnson and Mimi Cummins. The book features 48 other great Christmas cookie recipes, plus baking tips, tips on packaging cookie gifts, tips on shipping cookies, and tips on making Gifts in a Jar.