What better way to celebrate the end of a long year than with a day making candies at home, and packaging them for friends and family? It may not be possible to meet in person this year for holiday parties and family get-togethers, but you can still be with loved ones in spirit — and in flavor! Buttery candies like toffee, caramels, and fudge make a sweet homemade gift, easy to send, ship, or drop off on someone’s doorstep.

That being said, even the most confident home cooks and bakers can be intimidated by the prospect of constant stirring and temperature monitoring. Candy is actually a very simple kitchen project, but getting it right takes know-how. Below, learn a few of our favorite tricks for crafting the nuttiest toffee, the gooey-est caramels, and the fudgiest fudge.

Check the weather.

Never make candy on a humid or rainy day, as it will take on moisture from the air and refuse to set. This is especially true for caramels like our Apple Caramels, Cocoa Caramels and Buttery Caramels.

Testing candy thermometer

Use a thermometer.

Get confident with your candy thermometer — it is the only way to ensure you’ll turn out a consistently good result. You can use any type of candy thermometer, but we prefer digital thermometers for their accuracy. To test your candy thermometer’s precision, insert it into a pot of boiling water, being careful not to let the bulb touch the base or sides of the pot. Leave it in for five minutes before checking the display. It should read 212 degrees F. If it doesn’t, add or subtract the difference from the recipe temperature.

Patience makes perfect.

Making candy takes time: it can’t be rushed. As simple as our candy recipes are, they require supervision and patience, no shortcuts allowed. This goes for making the candy and letting it cool and set — especially for fudge, which becomes grainy when cooled too suddenly. Give yourself plenty of time for cooling treats like our Eggnog Fudge and Chocolate Praline Fudge.

Get your butter right.

Some candy recipes rely on salted butter for stabilization, like our Espresso Toffee and Toffee with Milk Chocolate and Pecans. Using the correct Challenge Butter will have a big impact on your results.

Boiling sugar and butter

Be very careful.

Candy making often relies on melted sugar, which can be dangerous. Take care not to walk away from your mixture when it’s on the stove, and avoid burns by leaning back and carefully adding ingredients to hot mixtures.

Need more help? Check out our guide on Candy-making with Butter for more techniques and tutorials.