Tasteful Homemade Gifts
Sure, there are lots of cool electronic gadgets and swanky thingamabobs you could give your loved ones. But if you’re looking for something a little different to show you care this holiday season, try making these tasteful (and tasty) homemade gifts. Warm their hearts and fill their bellies with something from your kitchen.
Gifts in a Jar
Grab your favorite baking recipe, print it up, and then gather all the dry ingredients together. Now, scoop up all the packaging supplies you’ll need: a wide-mouth canning jar, ribbons, and gift tags. Measure out the ingredients and add them one layer at a time to the jar. Wrap with ribbon and add a mixing spoon to create the perfect gift for teachers or a gift exchange group. Jars also lend themselves to dried soup mixes, spice mixes, granolas, and snack mixes.
Simple syrups are truly simple to make. You’ll need to boil together 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 cup of water, and 1 1/2 cups of chopped fruit or fruit juice. After the ingredients reach a boil, lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 20 to 25 minutes. Strain out the fruit bits, if needed. Cool and put into decanters. Store in the refrigerator until gift giving time. Flavors to try: cranberry, grapefruit, and lemon.
Spirits are a traditional holiday gift and infusions are an easy way to customize them. Add one part liquor (such as bourbon, vodka, or rum) to one part fruit or two parts liquor to one part herbs or spices. Store at room temperature away from sunlight and shake daily. Check the flavor regularly (it can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks) and strain off any unwanted stuff once the flavor is to your liking. Try bananas in rum, bourbon and vanilla bean, and vodka with pears and cinnamon.
Sweet, salty, savory, or a combination of all three, snack mixes make a quick and easy gift. Start with a base that uses popcorn, pretzels, and/or cereal. Add extras like dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, chocolate candies, or even crushed peppermints. Coat in melted white chocolate or milk chocolate for a sweet treat. Create another sweet coating by mixing together 2/3 cup of vegetable oil, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. For a savory mix, melt 1/4 cup of butter and add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite herbs and spices, such as paprika, dried Italian herb mix, and garlic powder. Simply stir everything together and you’re set.
Bark, Fudge, and Truffles
Chocolate bark is an extremely versatile base for a decadent treat. You’ll want to start with a pound of dark, milk, or white chocolate. Melt in the microwave or a double-boiler, spread the chocolate in a foil-lined pan coated with butter and then add your goodies on top. Nuts and dried fruit are traditional options. Give your bark some bite with dried hot peppers. Also try shredded coconut, sea salt, pretzels, peppermints, and even crushed cookies.
Fudge is similarly versatile, but gets its creamier texture from sweetened condensed milk.
Truffles (or balls) can also be made in a variety of flavors. The basic recipe for the ganache (the inner part of truffles) usually requires heavy cream and liqueur (check out this orange chocolate truffles recipe).