Making Your Own Cookie Bouquet
Cookie gift bouquets make a a great surprise treat for anyone who likes cookies. You don't have to be an artist to make one, but use your creativity to make something themed for your recipient. Personalizing it by hand decorating with their name or special message is a great way to make it a memorable gift. It's also a fun craft for the kids, and you can make on together (for example, a Mother's Day bouquet, or a special birthday for one of the grandparents).To start off your bouquet, you'll need a container. The easiest for beginners is to use a coffee mug. If you don't have an appropriate mug already, try and find one that will match your theme (e.g., Get Well mug, Christmas mug, etc.). You will also need some floral foam, which is available at most craft stores. You just need a piece big enough to fit inside the mug, but buy a little extra in case you cut it too small. Floral foam is inexpensive at available at most craft stores, or you can try and get a piece from your local florist. Cut the foam into a shape that matches your mug so that it fits inside snugly. The height of your foam should be about an inch shorter than the height of the mug. Once the foam is in place, top it off with colored shred. If your foam isn't a perfect fit, you can stuff some shred down in the cracks too.
Of course, you'll need some cookies to put in your bouquet. Fresh-baked homemade are always best, but you can "cheat" by buying the dough and baking, or even buying some from your favorite bakery. For a mug bouquet, 3 to 6 cookies should be enough to fill it out and still have it look good. More than that and you'll have trouble getting them in the arrangement and/or keeping it from tipping over. Wrap the cookies in plastic wrap. Colored plastic wrap works best, but you can use clear if you don't have any colored wrap, or can't find a matching color. Then attach the cookies to thin wooden sticks, like bamboo skewers. You likely will have to cut down the skewers to make them shorter. If working with kids, be careful with the sharp points.
If you have enough time and feel pretty good about your decorating skills, you can make a decorated cookie gift bouquet. Decorated cookies need a firmer base, so you want to use a rolled cookie, like sugar or gingerbread. Before baking, you'll have to insert your bamboo skewer into the batter, about half way up. Leave the skewers long for now as you'll cut them to length during assembly. The cookies will need to be thicker than normal; at least twice as thick as the diameter of the skewer you are using. Since this will affect the baking time and texture, you might want to experiment first with one of two until you get them right. Try lowering the over temperature by 25 degrees and cooking them for an extra 5 minutes. The exact modification time will vary depending on the dough type and thickness.
Once the cookies have fully cooled, it is time for decorating. This is the perfect time to have the kids help. You can make your own icing and piping bag to decorate, or buy a can of cake decorating icing if you're short on time. Having multiple colors of icing will really spruce up the finished product. You can also press candies, sprinkles, etc. into the icing for extra decorations. You should bake a few extra cookies in case you make a mistake decorating, and your kids might also want to make one or two for themselves. Unless you've used an icing recipe that dries very firm to the touch, you don't want to wrap them in plastic because you might smash the design. If you're not making your bouquet right away, carefully lay the cookies in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
To finish your bouquet, just put them into your mug or other container. Trim the skewers so the cookies are different heights. Attach a matching bow and you're done! Your recipient is bound to be surprised and impressed with your homemade cookie gift bouquet.