8 delicious homemade gift ideas you can ship in the mail
Let these edible goodies brighten someone’s day.
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The holiday season is here—and so is the gift-giving season. In addition to top-rated gifts that are recommended by experts, many people are sending edible treats to family and friends who may be feeling homesick this time of the year and can’t travel due to COVID restrictions.
Whether you’re ordering things from someone’s favorite childhood restaurant, or you’re making your own food gifts, here are some edible homemade gift ideas that may inspire you, plus helpful tips on how to reduce the risk of damage during transportation.
1. Roasted nuts
In my family, roasted nuts have always been the champion of all holiday treats. They’re delicious and can travel safely in different climates if your relatives live far away. If you’ve never roasted nuts before, it’s such an easy process that’s nearly foolproof.
What I like about roasted nuts is that you can get creative by adding various spices to your nuts to make them more flavorful. For packaging, you can use a tin lined with wax paper or food grade wrapping tissues. A mason jar is a good option, too.
Pro packing tip: Use crumpled newspaper or catalogs to secure the nuts containers so they don’t move around in the box.
2. Homemade candy bark
Peppermint bark is a holiday mainstay, but this year you may want to attempt making your own candy barks with new ingredients. Homemade candy barks are easy to make, especially for those who are relatively new to candy making. We like this basic bark recipe by Martha Stewart for its simplicity.
The only thing that requires extra attention is melting the chocolate—if you aren’t an expert, we recommend getting a food thermometer to make sure your chocolates are properly tempered.
Pro packing tip: Depending on what toppings you add to your candy barks, they should last up to two weeks in an airtight container.
3. No-bake cookies
If you’re not a huge baker but need inspiration for a mail-friendly cookie recipe, you may want to check out these no bake avalanche cookies. My aunt Joan brings a box of avalanche cookies when we spend Christmas skiing in Vermont and they’re normally gone within an hour. The best thing about these cookies is they only require four ingredients—and you can probably whip them together in five minutes! As I may not see her this year, making avalanche cookies myself is on my top priority list.
Pro packing tip: Use food-grade wrapping tissues to make sure there’s room between the cookies to avoid sticking.
4. Chocolate truffles
Out of all candies, chocolates are probably the most convenient to ship in the winter if packaged properly. The good news is, you don’t need to be an expert to make your own chocolate truffles. Created in Brazil during wartime when fresh milk was scarce, Brigadeiros are made with condensed milk, cocoa powder, salt, and chocolate sprinkles—all of which are easy to find at grocery stores. This homemade truffle recipe is also full of tips on how to make them with a personal touch.
Pro packing tip: Use candy cups to create space between each piece of chocolate.
5. Hot chocolate bombs
If your giftees are planning an outdoor hot cocoa party, they’ll love these insanely popular hot chocolate bombs that are sold out in stores like Costco. They aren’t hard to make either—simply melt the chocolate, pour the liquid into spherical molds, wait for the shells to solidify, and assemble with a generous amount of mini marshmallows and cocoa powder. You can make hot chocolate bombs with both dark and white chocolate, and even decorate the shells with sprinkles.
Pro packing tip: Layer the molds with chocolate two to three times to make sure the shells won’t break while unmolding or during shipping.
6. Homemade dried fruits and jerky
But you don’t have to stop at produce. You can marinate slices of brined beef, chicken, and fish and then leave them in a dehydrator to make jerky the old-fashioned way. Not only can you make dried fruits and jerky in large batches, but you can also ship them without worrying about damage. If your giftee loves snacking, this is the way to go.
Pro packing tip: As dried fruits can attract insects, you should store them in an airtight container when shipping.
7. Fruit jams and DIY sauces
Whether you’ve got fresh cranberries to get rid of or have a family recipe for salted caramel sauce, fruit jams and delicate sauces may travel well in the winter months. If you live in a warmer climate, you may want to do overnight or expedited shipping to avoid spoilage for fruit jams. These cute 8-ounce mason jars are perfect for gifting, as well as tightly sealing the contents.
My mother-in-law has shipped holiday cakes as gifts before, and she recommends shipping each cake in its own disposable baking tin with a good supply of some other less weighty holiday goodies surrounding it to prevent movement during travel. Another great mailable cake idea would be an upside down cake if you ship it in the pan it was baked in.
Pro packing tip: Use an assortment of nuts and candies to fill the empty space in the box to prevent the cake from moving around.
A note on shipping
If you’re going to send your homemade presents in the mail, check the shipping deadlines and information on pick-up and drop-off. I’ve had success with the U.S. Postal Service, which offers free pick-up service on regular mail delivery days when you submit a request ahead of time. The Click-N-Ship service, which allows you to create shipping labels online, can also save you trips to the post office.
For FedEx, though they don’t have free pick-up services, you can often drop your packages off at your local Walgreens.
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