15 Sympathy Cookies & Cookie Bouquet Ideas


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When someone you love grieves the death of a friend or family member, you want to do whatever you can to cheer him up. When you look for creative sympathy gift ideas, you often turn to food. Giving people the nourishment, comfort, and convenience of prepared foods is a practical show of support.

Overview: Our Top Picks for Giving a Cookie Bouquet

Type of Cookies to Add in a DIY Cookie Bouquet

Sympathy Cookie Bouquet or Tray Ideas

Jump ahead to these sections:

Many people will provide hearty meals like casseroles but a cookie basket or bouquet is also a great gift. People who are in mourning could use a sweet treat and they can also share cookies with visitors. Let’s break down some thoughtful DIY sympathy cookie basket and bouquet ideas.  

Type of Cookies to Add in a DIY Cookie Bouquet

If you plan to make a birthday basket, bouquet, or tray, the first thing you need to do is decide what kind of cookies you want to make. We’ve compiled some classic recipes that would be perfect for a sympathy gift. 

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

1. Sugar cookies

If you plan to decorate the cookies that go in a cookie bouquet or basket, sugar cookies make the perfect backdrop. You can cut sugar cookies into a classic round shape or cut into other decorative shapes.

Since the dough is so smooth, they make the perfect backdrop for lovely decorations. This sugar cookie recipe was specifically designed for rolling out, cutting, and decorating.     

2. Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are a classic American dessert. Every family seems to have its own recipe. You can make chocolate chip cookies with or without nuts and you can choose to use traditional chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, allowing you to personalize the recipe.

As far as we’re concerned, this chocolate chip cookie recipe is the gold standard for a reason. 

3. Shortbread cookies

One of the major physical signs of grief is a loss of appetite. People who are mourning may eat food more slowly than they would in other circumstances. When kept in an airtight container, shortbread can stay good for as long as four weeks, so it’s a great choice for sympathy cookies.

This article contains a standard shortbread recipe with several different flavor variations.  

4. Biscotti

Many families open their homes after a death so that people can come and pay their respects. They may sit and drink tea or coffee with people who come by to visit. They may want to be able to serve a small snack with this coffee, and biscotti is perfect for that.

Biscotti is baked twice, which offers a firm, crunchy texture that softens up when dipped in coffee. A sympathy bouquet featuring biscotti is both thoughtful and practical. Visit this link to see four variations of a traditional biscotti recipe.    

5. Thumbprint cookies

These charming cookies are a classic at holidays, church gatherings, or anywhere you might expect to see a closely knit group of people.

They're intentionally rustic, so even if you aren’t a skilled baker, they should have the right look. The jam centers are tart and tasty and make these cookies gleam like little jewels. 

Sympathy Cookie Bouquet or Tray Ideas

Now that we’ve figured out our cookie recipes, it’s time to plan the presentation. There is no end to the ways you can display your sympathy cookies. Arranging your cookies onto a tray, in a basket, or into a cookie bouquet is what elevates this gift. The right presentation can take simple homemade cookies and elevate them into a meaningful sympathy gift.    

6. Flower-shaped sugar cookie bouquet

As we discussed earlier, sugar cookies are great vessels for decoration. Instead of sending a bouquet of real flowers, you can make a beautiful edible floral arrangement with sugar cookies.

Before baking the sugar cookies, roll out the dough, and use a cookie cutter to cut out cookies in flower shapes. While the cookies cool, you can make and tint your own royal icing in different shades. Then apply it to the cooled cookies for a colorful and tasty bouquet.

You can actually affix the cookies to sticks and arrange them so they’re sticking out of a vessel filled with shredded green paper. This adds a bright decorative element.   

7. Chocolate chip cookie basket

If you opt to bake chocolate chip cookies or another chunkier filled cookie, decorating it might be overkill. A classic chocolate chip cookie doesn’t need a fancy presentation. Get a nice decorative basket and line it with clean decorative fabric like a dishtowel, then layer the cookies inside and wrap them up.

Hand-deliver them with a handwritten condolence card (and feature a religious sympathy quote if you think that’s fitting).  

8. Shortbread cookie tray

Like sugar cookies, shortbread can be a wonderful vessel for decoration. Even flavored shortbread is often infused with extracts and not big chunks of filling like a chocolate chip cookie.

This makes shortbread a perfect template for decoration, even if it’s just dipping one end in melted chocolate. Once the shortbread is dressed, arrange it on a decorative platter

9. Simple biscotti bouquet

Biscotti has an unconventional shape compared to most cookies. They are actually long sturdy sticks instead of round, flat discs.

Get a container like a wide-necked vase, and arrange biscotti in different flavors, just like a flower bouquet. Tie a decorative ribbon around the neck of the vase. This elegant display is simple to put together. 

10. Thumbprint cookie display

We talked earlier about how the jam at the center of a thumbprint cookie resembles a jewel. These gorgeous cookies deserve an impressive display.

Pick up a three-tiered cookie display that features plates in descending sizes attached to a structure. Then arrange the thumbprint cookies on each plate. If you use multiple jam flavors and colors, that adds an extra decorative element.  

What to Write On a Sympathy Cookie Tray or Bouquet

Baking cookies and assembling a display are just part of your condolence gift. You should also include a sympathy message. One way to do this is by including a thoughtful decorative element like a dove on a sugar cookie. Doves are a symbol of peace in Christianity.

But your sympathy message doesn’t have to be on the cookies. Just sending a card along with the basket or bouquet will appropriately convey your condolences. Here are some examples of what you might write.

11. “Even in your grief, I hope you are able to turn to sweet memories for comfort.”

Life is made up of moments, both bitter and sweet. In our darkest times, it’s the memories of the sweet times that carry us through. This message conveys that sentiment and is also a sly nod to the sweetness of the cookie basket it accompanies. 

12. “I am holding you in my heart during this difficult time.”

This is always a lovely sentiment because it feels a little more intimate than more traditional condolence messages. It would be clever to pair this message with a heart-shaped sugar cookie bouquet. 

13. “[Name] was such a sweet and lovely person. I’ll miss them.”

When someone dies, for some reason, people tiptoe around saying the name. It’s like they’re afraid that by invoking the name, they’ll cause pain. In truth, it can cause more pain for people to stop hearing a loved one’s name. Including it in a sympathy card message makes even a simple message feel powerful.  

14. “I usually only bake these around the holidays, but I know they’re a favorite of yours. I thought you might need some extra comfort right now.”

Many families have special cookie recipes that they bake and share during the holiday season. It can be something that people really look forward to. If you’re known for a particular cookie recipe, consider baking it outside of your usual season. It might bring some much-needed happiness to a friend in need. 

15. “I’m sorry for what your family is going through right now. I’ll send you a text next week to find out what I can bring you next.” 

After someone dies, the family may be inundated with other mourners and well-wishers over the first few weeks.

As time passes, people begin to get distracted by the busyness of everyday life. A message like this lets your friend know you won’t forget her and will continue offering your support.    

Bring a Little Sweetness into Someone’s Life with Sympathy Cookies

It’s human nature to look for a sense of connection and community when you’re in mourning. Food is a universal connector that can bring people together in both the best and worst of times. Instead of looking for premade sympathy gift baskets, take some time to make a homemade cookie basket or bouquet.

Picking out a special cookie recipe and arranging the results in a special way is the perfect way to show how much you care.   

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