Last year around this time I wrote about making handmade gifts for the holidays (and even shared my recipe for Herbed Sea Salt), with the idea of saving money and getting back into the spirit of gift-giving. Little did I know that a year later, the idea of simplifying Christmas (both financially and spiritually) would be resonate even more strongly.
So once again, my husband and I will head for the kitchen to make many of our holiday gifts. The family certainly liked the sea salt-topped caramels that we gifted them with last year, packed into inexpensive white boxes from Michael’s, and tied with stretchy gold cord and a handwritten label. So this year, we’ll have to up the ante a little.
Making a food-related gift is wonderfully satisfying. It’s a chance to show your loved ones a little bit about your passions, whether it’s for wonderful local apples that you make into jars of applesauce, or your favorite herb-rubbed chicken, the recipe for which you include with a packet of your secret herb blend. I also found it so much more relaxing to spend an afternoon in the kitchen with my husband, rather than braving the traffic and crowds at my local mall. And from an environmental standpoint, I like the idea that instead of forcing all of the recipients to find room in their homes for more stuff, which they’re likely to throw away during their spring-cleaning purge, my gifts will be eaten and enjoyed, without adding to the world’s clutter and landfills.
To get you started on your own holiday gift-making, here are some ideas that might inspire you to channel your own Martha Stewart… or, better yet, the eco-minded Danny Seo:
- Dessert toppings. Cook up a few batches of rich, chocolate dessert sauces and ladle them into pretty jars. Better Homes & Gardens has a luscious recipe for Hazelnut-Mocha Sauce. Your giftee can spoon it over her favorite ice cream, or a slice of angel food cake.
- Mulling spices. Hit the bulk aisles of your local natural foods store and assemble the ingredients needed to make mulling spices. Layered into a cellophane cone, these make a pretty presentation.
- Holiday Bagel Doggie Treats. Made with whole wheat flour, rye flour, chicken broth and honey, any pooch will love these chewy treats.
- Coupon for a homemade meal. A new mom or an overextended family member will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind an offer of a homemade meal delivered to them just when they need it most. You can do a cute presentation of a set of silverware (look for random pieces at thrift stores) wrapped in a napkin, with the coupon tied on with a pretty ribbon. Ask them to give you a few days’ notice, and be sure to check to see if they have any food allergies or other dietary restrictions.
- Sea Salt Caramels. Sea salt caramels are one of the hottest food trends to hit the candy world. Take a page from my book and make up a big batch of these irresistible, salt-dusted caramels.
Do you have ideas for easy, homemade foodie gifts? Please share!