The Cheaper, Better Alternative to Cookie Tins

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: barmalini)

I give out no fewer than 40 gifts of cookies every holiday season. Every person on my husband’s side of the family gets one. My coworkers each get one. The super in my apartment building gets one. The list goes on.

I know the holiday tin is the traditional vessel for gifting cookies, but with more than 10 years of cookie-gifting experience, I’ve decided there’s something a million times better: small cardboard treat boxes.

Hear me out. I have five good reasons why cardboard boxes are better than tins when it comes to handing out holiday cookies.

1. They’re cheaper.

No offense, anyone, but I’m already spending enough money on sugar, eggs, chocolate, nuts, and more. I can seriously drop a cool hundred (or more!) on ingredients and I don’t need to match that price on packaging supplies. A cheap cookie tin can still cost $2. Yet I can get 100 of my go-to boxes for just $15.

Find them: 4×4-inch Gift Boxes in Kraft Pinstripe, $15 for 100 at Uline

2. They’re lighter and easier to carry.

I have to get a majority of my cookie gifts across state lines from New York to New Jersey — and this trip includes a stint on public transportation. Between the cookies and all the other stuff I have to carry, I just don’t have it in me to schlep any unnecessary weight. Cardboard is light! Tin is less light! Plus, these still stack up nicely (and won’t get crushed) in a rigid tote bag.

3. No one feels obligated to return them.

I’ve given out tins before. The reaction most people gave, as I handed over each tin? They asked if I needed the tin back. I always said no — even though I really wanted to say yes. But that wouldn’t have been much of a gift. “Here’s something that you can enjoy for a hot minute and then you have to worry about getting back to me in a timely fashion!” Since I made the switch to cardboard boxes, no one has ever thought I might possibly need the container back.

4. They’re a blank canvas.

I buy my boxes in that classic kraft color and then decorate to my heart’s content. Usually, that involves baker’s twine and cute gift tags, rubber stamps or hand-drawn designs with some metallic markers. Of course, you can add stickers or bows to solid-color cookie tins, but beyond that, there’s not much else you can do to personalize them. And I don’t exactly love the designs on patterned tins.

5. They’re useful the rest of the year, too.

These cardboard boxes store flat, so I can stash the leftovers in a drawer to use later. And, trust me, they are always great to have on hand. I always pull out a few for random occasions throughout the rest of the year. (Think: filled with candy for Valentine’s Day, cute little gift boxes for tiny birthday presents, etc.) It’s hard to make the same case for a tin with snowflakes on it.