There’s something special about giving a gift that you prepared in your own kitchen, whether it’s a batch of spice cookies, a Mason jar filled with pickled or preserved goodies, or a bottle of herb-infused oil or vinegar.
The best part is the options are endless — and depending on what you make you can involve the kids. Let them decorate cookies with icing, or help with packaging your creations up. It’s a great family project that can help ease the stress of the holidays.
Here are a few of our favourite edible gift ideas, along with recipes to get you started!
Marshmallows: Once you make homemade marshmallows you’ll never want to buy bagged supermarket ones again. Perfect as an addition to hot chocolate, or to upgrade your campfire S’mores. Try your hand at making either original vanilla and peppermint-flavoured ones here.
Caramels: Homemade caramels require patience, both in the cutting and wrapping stages, but they’re worth it when you taste how buttery and sweet they are. We’re particularly fond of Smitten Kitchen‘s apple cider caramels.
Chocolates: Not that there’s anything wrong with giving a box of store-bought chocolates, but we love the personal touch of making a batch of homemade ones. Michael Bonacini shared this recipe for Mother’s Day but we think they’d be just as welcome as a Christmas holiday gift. These truffles from Mairlyn Smith were incredibly popular around the office — you’ll love them too!
Spiced nuts: Spiced nuts can be modified to any and all tastes — use your favourite nuts and spices to make a mix that’s sweet, savoury, or in this case, a bit of both! We love adding fresh rosemary to the mix, as in these rosemary herbed nuts from Ina Garten [via the Kitchn].
Herbed olives: For those who prefer savoury to sweet, herbed olives are an elegant offering. Go the olive bar at your nearest market and pick a variety of types. Jar them, and add a variety of herbs and other flavourings (we often include citrus rind). Submerge the olives in olive oil before sealing your jar.
Herb-infused oils and vinegars: Another gift that is easily customizable. Go to a packaging store to find decorative bottles for your oils and vinegars, as the bottles are a part of the charm with this gift. Infuse olive oil with rosemary, garlic, chilis, or thyme. Consider tarragon, oregano, dill, basil, or chives for a herbaceous vinegar. We like using white wine vinegar.
Cookies: No one’s going to turn down a batch of Christmas cookies you baked yourself. Consider making bite-sized versions (you may need to reduce the cooking time) as the batch will go farther and everyone knows bite-sized cookies don’t have calories (hee hee). Our current favourites include Nutella shortbread, and Living Lou‘s Chocolate ginger molasses cookies and Chocolate peppermint cookies. Of course you’ll also find 31 fantastic viewer-submitted recipes in our 2013 holiday cookie book here.
Mulling spices and a bottle of wine: Nothing says holidays like a mug of mulled wine — give your friends or family the means to make their own with a bottle of wine and a jar of mulling spices you put together yourself. Try this recipe for mulling spices. A non-alcoholic option would be apple cider.
Spice mixes: Spice mixes are great for the BBQ lover in your life. There are countless recipes for dry rubs online, using different blends of chilis, herbs, and spices. We also love making our own dukkah, which is a lovely Middle Eastern spice blend that goes nicely with bread and oil as an appetizer.
Preserves: If you spend July and August putting summer into jars via jams, jellies and chutneys, Christmas is the perfect time to share your treats with friends and family. Combine jam with a loaf of crusty bread and some cheese for a fine foodie gift. Brandied cherries are a great addition to a cocktail, so consider pairing that with cloth drink napkins or a cocktail shaker.
What’s your favourite homemade gift to give? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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