Christmas Present Cookie Boxes are a sweet baking project and gift idea in one! Brown sugar cookies are formed into boxes and decorated to look like Christmas presents. Fill them with your favorite treats, like candies, cookies, cupcakes and more!
This post is sponsored by C&H® Sugar. This year I’m pleased to partner with them to bring you some delicious holiday dessert recipes.
What are the two best parts of the holiday season? Baking and gift-giving, of course! (Some people might say that eating and gift-getting are the best parts, but around here we’re trying to get on Santa’s Nice List, so let’s keep things selfless, okay?)
What if I told you that we could combine both baking and gifting in one fun—and delicious—recipe? Sold!
These Christmas Present Cookie Boxes just might be cutest things I’ve made all year. First of all, EVERYTHING is cuter in miniature form, and not only are these tiny versions of gift boxes, but they’re filled with even smaller cookies, so it’s like mini cookie inception, and it’s adorable.
Secondly, I just love the thought of gifting someone a fun box filled with candy, and then having them chow down on the box itself after they eat the goodies inside. Tasty AND eco-friendly! We’re basically saving the world over here, one dessert at a time.
I made a few changes to my usual sugar cookie recipe to give these a little holiday flair. Most importantly, I swapped white sugar for C&H® Golden Brown Sugar. Using brown sugar gives these cookies a softer texture and a subtle caramelized sugar flavor that immediately brings to mind cozy winter nights.
I also added some orange zest and cinnamon to the dough, to mimic the flavors of my favorite gingerbread cookies. I didn’t want to go full-on gingerbread, since I wanted to keep these in the sugar cookie realm, but if you want more of that taste, feel free to add ground ginger and any other spices you’d like—I think cardamom would also be a delicious addition!
Now I won’t tell you that these come together in under 10 minutes, because that’s a lie and I’ve still got my eyes on the Nice List prize. There is a lot of dough rolling and cookie cutting involved, after all. But I can promise that if you’ve ever made any sort of sugar cookie, you’ve got this one in the bag. And if you haven’t, no time like the present to start! Here’s how easy it is:
Ideally, you’ll have at least 2 cookie cutters that nestle together with about 1/3” – ½” space between the edges. If you are making boxes, you can technically cut out the squares with a knife, but that involves a lot of measuring and will make the process take much longer—so if you can find square cutters, that’s the easy way to go. And of course, if you want to make other shapes, like stars or trees, that would be almost impossible to do without cutters!
You’ll cut out 6-7 cookies for each cookie box—two solid cookies, for the top and bottom, and then 4-5 “frames,” that are basically just an outline of the square shape, with the middle removed. I found that the larger boxes looked good with 5 middle layers, while the smaller ones looked more proportional with 4 layers. But you can experiment and see what works best for you!
After the cookies are baked and cooled, it’s time to assemble! I used melted candy coating, but you can also use royal icing. Draw a thin layer of coating around the outer edge of one of the solid boxes, then stick one of the frames on top. Continue layering the frames on top of each other, until your box is as tall as you’d like.
And now for the fun part: decorating the top of the cookie box! One of the reasons I used candy coating instead of royal icing is because I think it tastes better, and I’m also a bad baker who finds royal icing annoying to make and work with. (Sorry not sorry!)
But most importantly, I wanted to gussy up my presents with chocolate transfer sheets! Transfer sheets are SUCH an easy way to make your desserts look super professional with minimal effort. They’re basically cocoa butter designs stamped onto clear plastic. When you put melted chocolate onto the sheets, the cocoa butter transfers onto the chocolate, and once it’s hardened, you peel off the plastic and have very fancy chocolate! Transfer sheets can be found at cake supply stores, or purchased online, and typically cost $3-6/sheet. (Here are a few examples of Christmas transfer sheets: one, two, three, four, five.)
To use them for this project, I outlined my cookie cutters on the back (plastic) side of the transfer sheets, then cut out the shapes. Spread warm melted chocolate onto the transfer sheets (making sure you’re on the cocoa butter side, not the plastic side!) and once it hardens, peel off the plastic and attach it to the top cookie with a little more melted chocolate.
I thought they looked a little naked, so I added a simple border of red candy coating along the edges. Ta-da! *doffs top hat*
And now for the most important question: what to put in the cookie boxes?? I couldn’t resist making tiny cookies for my gifts—gingerbread men, holly leaves, stars, and Christmas trees, all decorated with melted candy coating. Since I was already rolling and cutting dough for the boxes, why not have a little fun with it? I also added some holiday candies, like peppermints and cinnamon imperials. I think mini cupcakes would also be adorable in here! Just make sure you’ve sized your boxes to accommodate whatever treat will be going inside.
To gift these, I recommend leaving the top unattached, and securing it with a ribbon around the box. It’s cute and festive, and also makes it easy for people to open the box and get to the goodies inside! But if you’ll be mailing them or are otherwise worried about stability, you can always attach the tops with a bit of melted chocolate.
How to Make Christmas Present Cookie Boxes (live!)
I made these cookie boxes on a recent Facebook Live video. Check it out to learn all the tips and tricks to making them perfectly!
Thank you to C&H® Sugar for sponsoring this post. C&H® Sugar is sold where I live, but if they don’t sell it in your area, look for Domino® Sugar, the sister brand of C&H® Sugar.
Equipment You’ll Need for Cookie Boxes:
- Square Cookie Cutters
- Chocolate Transfer sheets (examples: one, two, three, four, five.)
- White Candy Coating
- Red Candy Coating
- Mini Christmas Cookie Cutters (optional but cute!)
Christmas Present Cookie Boxes
Note that the yield of this recipe can change greatly depending on the size and shape of the boxes. This recipe is written to make three 3-inch square boxes, but using larger or smaller cutters will impact the number of finished boxes. If you’re worried about the yield, you can always make a double batch of dough and save the extras—it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
For the Brown Sugar Cookie Dough:
- 8 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
- 11.25 oz C&H® Golden Brown Sugar (1 ½ cups)
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 TBSP heavy cream or milk
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 16 oz all-purpose flour (3 ¾ cups)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 8 oz white candy coating
- Chocolate transfer sheets optional
- Candies and ribbon
To Make the Brown Sugar Cookies:
Combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream them together for about 30-60 seconds, until well-mixed. Do not overbeat until light in color, or you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread.
Add the orange zest, vanilla extract, cream, and egg, and mix them in on low speed until well-incorporated. Finally, add the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Mix on low speed until everything is combined and no dry patches remain. Finish stirring by hand, scraping down the bottom and sides with a rubber spatula to make sure the dough is well-mixed.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper until it is ¼-inch thick. Refrigerate for at least an hour, until firm. If you’re making this several days in advance, don’t roll out the dough—instead, form it into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap, then roll it out when you’re ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cut out the tops and bases of the cookies first with a 3-inch square cutter —you’ll need 2 per cookie box, so 6 total. Place all the solid squares on one cookie sheet together, and bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes. The cookies won’t take on much color on top, but you’ll start to see them color around the edges, and they will look dry and slightly puffed in the center. Cool completely.
To make the frames, use the same 3-inch square cutter, but this time, use a second, smaller square cutter to cut out the inside of the cookies. Aim for a margin about 1/3-1/2” around the cookie. Too thin and they might break, too thick and you’ll have no room for goodies inside the boxes! You’ll need to re-roll the dough several times during this process, and if you find it gets too soft, refrigerate it briefly until you can work with it again. Try to avoid adding flour while rolling and instead roll between waxed paper—too much flour will make the cookies tough.
You’ll want 4-5 frames per cookie, so 12-15 frames total. Bake them at 350 F for 8-10 minutes, then cool.
To Assemble the Cookie Boxes:
Melt the white candy coating, and place it in a piping bag with a small round tip. Pipe a thin line of coating around the border of one of the base cookies, and gently press a frame cookie on top. Repeat until you’ve added 4 frames to the base. Fill the boxes with whatever goodies you’d like!
To decorate the tops, trace the cookie cutter shape onto the plastic side of your transfer sheet, and cut out the transfer sheet squares.
Re-warm the candy coating, if necessary. Place the transfer sheet squares cocoa butter side up on a piece of parchment or waxed paper. (The cocoa butter side will feel slightly rough to the touch, not smooth. Try not to touch it too much so you don’t smear the pattern.) Spread a thin layer of melted coating on top of one of the transfer sheets. Spread it out to the edges and a bit beyond. When the sheet is completely covered, work a spatula under the sheet and transfer it to a different area of parchment so the edges are clean. Repeat with the remaining sheets, and let dry completely.
Once dry, carefully peel back the plastic from the tops of the sheets. Spread some melted coating on bottom (flat side) of one of the top cookies, and gently press the chocolate on top. Repeat until all of the top cookies are decorated. If you’d like, you can pipe a line of dots around the edge to finish the look of the cookies.
Put the tops on the cookie boxes, tie a ribbon around the box to secure, and they’re ready to go!