Help me wrap and present delicious but frozen food.
December 2, 2009 12:24 PM   Subscribe

This Christmas, I'm giving everyone the gift of delicious and healthy home-cooked meals, but I'm blanking on how to wrap and/or present them at the Christmas Eve festivities. Everything will be pre-frozen, which probably rules out putting them by the tree with the other gifts, and the only other solution I can think of is leaving them in my car and letting everyone take theirs on the way home, which is lame. There must be a better way.

As I'm picturing it, everything will be frozen and packaged into reusable Gladware-type containers. Once frozen, are there any cheap ways of keeping them cold and dry to the point where I could actually wrap them and set them under the tree for a few hours until we get to the gift opening, and then again until people can get them home? I don't want anything to defrost too much, obviously.

The one thing I really do not want to do is buy each recipient a mini-cooler and ice packs because that kind of defeats the purpose of a low-cost/all-consumable present in my mind, and also there are 10 people, which would blow my budget.

If I do have to leave them in the car (which is a viable option, as I live in Minnesota), any cool ideas on what I could use or make to represent the meals for maximum effect? The rest of the gift will consist of other homemade treats and snacks, so there will be something open for sure, but the main meal is kind of the piece de resistance, so I'd like to make sure it doesn't get missed in a pile of wrapping paper.

I am certainly open to better ideas and suggestions if you have any. Thanks, all!
posted by anderjen to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
Leave them in the car, as you say. Under the tree, give them greeting-card envelopes containing tiny menus that explain each part of their meal in fancy French restaurant style and script.

(Use blank gold leaf gift cards.)
posted by rokusan at 12:31 PM on December 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

I like rokusan's idea. You could also put the recipe in an envelope and put that under the tree.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 12:34 PM on December 2, 2009

Best answer: You could use dry ice to pack them in a cooler, and then hand them out at present time. Then back in the cooler they go until leaving time. I don't know how dry ice would affect the wrapping paper though, if you were to wrap them.

Or you could wrap empty containers (maybe with the recipe inside), and then as the guests leave later, they could "trade" the empties in for the real thing, which you've kept in your car or a cooler or where ever.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:43 PM on December 2, 2009

Best answer: After you follow rokusan's and i_am_a_fiesta's advise, then keep them in a big cooler with a giant bow on it. When they come to the car to collect, you'll be pulling them out of a giant present in a way. Alternately, if you can splurge a little, get individual Styrofoam coolers. You can label them, add a bow and then pass a cooler to each recipient.
posted by onhazier at 12:46 PM on December 2, 2009

Best answer: What a fantastic idea for gifts! Can you find time to photograph and print the pix of your meals? Or could you make color copies of magazine photos of them? It would be very cool to get a photo of the gift with an ingredient list and the little menu rokusan suggests. I'd wrap the photos and menus in regular gift shaped boxes so no one will miss them.
posted by bearwife at 12:51 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree that photos would make the under-tree gift perfect, and love the idea of sticking a big bow in your car cooler! This is a lovely gift idea!
posted by ukdanae at 1:04 PM on December 2, 2009

I'd include a little ticket/coupon thingy with whatever you put under the tree and have them redeem it at your car as they leave.
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:46 PM on December 2, 2009

Best answer: OK, combine ALL of the above. But, instead of an envelope under the tree, wrap a small tupperware box with the photo, menu, and recipe inside. It Looks like a Present, with a pretty Box, but when they open it, it's a Tupperware? WTF? Then they open it, and all the yumminess becomes apparent.
posted by kch at 2:22 PM on December 2, 2009

Food photography is really hard to do well (witness all those laughable cookbooks). I support the idea of a nice card with the menu on it. Perhaps the recipes as well. Perhaps you could get artsy and fold the cards into the shape of a Chinese takeout carton.
posted by adamrice at 3:27 PM on December 2, 2009

I think your idea is fantastic.. and you're right, it could get costly. Is there anyway you could modify your idea? I make mixes for my friends. So I'll make a risotto mix, brownie mix, hot chocolate mix, shake-n-bake type mix.. etc. I change it up every year. But I always include one pre-cooked item like chocolate chip pumpkin bread or muffins.
This way they fix it when they want to and they'll be sure that it won't go bad anytime soon.

On the flipside. I do like the coupon idea that cestmoi15 mentioned.
posted by czechmate at 3:49 PM on December 2, 2009

Best answer: Things stay frozen much longer when they start out colder, so crank the freezer to high for a couple of days. Careful, it may make things in the fridge freeze. Wrap each gift in plenty of newspaper, then in a double-bagged paper bag. Tie with twine, add a sprig of holly. Gift card - picture of yummy food, cooking instructions, and ingredient list. Bring gifts into the house a bit before present opening time. Newspaper and double-bagged will add a good layer of insulation.
posted by theora55 at 4:22 PM on December 2, 2009

I agree with kch, a combination of all the ideas would be lovely. I'd be very pleased to find a little menu/instructions, redemption ticket and a photo/graphic inside a little gift box.

It's also a fantastic idea, your family and friends are very lucky to have you think of such a wonderful and thoughtful gift :)
posted by saileyn at 6:38 PM on December 2, 2009

Best answer: what about decorating a tree that's in the backyard, and arrange your gifts under it - then everyone has to troop outside to open them. It could be a lot of fun!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:33 PM on December 2, 2009

What about delivering them at a later date and just giving a card with a picture or description of the finished product? I find it so hard to coordinate when people are going to be around over the holidays with my own schedule...
posted by kirol at 10:12 PM on December 2, 2009

Response by poster: Fantastic, you guys. I think I will combine all your suggestions—wrap the empty Tupperware containing a picture and/or recipe and reheating instructions as a hint of the goodness to come, then have people swap it out for full containers as they leave. So simple, yet so effective!

Love the idea of hiding the frozen containers out underneath a decorated tree in the yard. I think everyone would get a huge kick out of that.

Thank you, all!
posted by anderjen at 10:00 AM on December 3, 2009

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