Here is why.

I’m in overachieving baking mode. I made gingerbread (the best recipe, truly, is from Tartine), my favorite jam thumbprints, green holly cookies, and am considering starting some chocolate shortbread, or the gingerbread stout cake in the Miette cookbook, or perhaps relocating my sanity and finishing the wrapping-shopping-extravaganza that I’m ignoring. Baking = instant gratification. The mall at Christmas = instant wildebeest brat person emerges.

With that happy sanity in mind, I offer you my ideas from this year, years past and some genius gifts from friends:




I have Obsessive Complusive Icing Disorder, just so you know.

The acorns were my favorite (because my baking “assistant” did them all for me. Thanks T.)

Simple packaging: cellphane bags and cheerful ribbon.

Good ideas from other people:

Michael and Jill McNamara — Republic photo team extraordinaire — made homemade salted caramel in diminuitive  jars from Crate & Barrel.

I ate it with a fork. I know. That’s bad — but it was so good.

My friend Lynne (of the velvet pumpkins) bought oversized cookie cutters in last year’s post-Christmas sales. This year, she filled them with homemade fudge — which cools perfectly when poured inside the cookie cutter. That’s edible glitter on top.

She also offered almond bread in those pretty paper pans form ABC Cake Decorating.

My ideas from years past:

2010 — The best chocolate sable cookies and my editor’s famous sugar cookies.

2009 Homemade Butterscotch Sauce (jars from Hobby Lobby)

2008: Homemade Santa Hat Favor Boxes

2007: Peppermint Marshmallows and hot chocolate kits