We all have friends and neighbors who we’d love to shower with holiday pressies, but buying gifts for everyone in our lives can be expensive! Here are some ideas for homemade gifts of the best variety—FOOD!  These gifts are low-cost, easy to make and something the whole family can enjoy.

Pssst, here’s my super-simple secret tip to excellent gift giving: It’s all in the presentation. You could give someone a corn dog and as long as it was in a nice box and wrapped exquisitely, you’d be the talk of the town. Hit up your local craft store for some nice ribbon or folksy twine (you can buy a huge roll in Walmart “tools” section for around $2), cloth remnants, tissue paper and holiday gift tags and you are good to go.

Chocolate Bark

 

I’ve personally made this one and given it to friends (or what was left after I ate my way through half a sheet) and it was a huge hit. It’s super simple to make, looks beautiful and is so versatile because you can add all your favorite ingredients and change it up constantly.

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Buy 3-4 extra large bars of chocolate (dark, milk or white, whatever you prefer) and melt down in double boiler, stirring frequently and at a low heat as not to scorch.
  2. When fully melted, stir in your choice of nuts (walnuts, almonds), dried fruit (apricots, cherries) or spices (cinnamon, mint, rosemary) or other goodies (mini marshmallows, white chocolate chips, bits of graham crackers). OR, if you want to make the bark more colorful, add ingredients onto the top of chocolate once already spread onto cookie sheet.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Pour chocolate mixture onto sheet and spread so that chocolate is approximately ½ inch thick.
  4. Optional: My secret ingredient—which is SOOO good—sprinkle the top with kosher salt.
  5. Place sheet into freezer and allow to harden. Once solid, remove from freezer, and with a sharp knife, make random uneven cuts into pieces, similar to peanut brittle.
  6. Place into a pretty box with tissue paper and tie with a holiday bow. Gorgeous and delicious!
Homemade Granola

 

There’s something about granola that looks so festive! Get one of those big glass mason jars (or use an old spaghetti sauce jar, the Classico or Bertolli ones are nice) and fill it up with your own delicious concoction of homemade granola. Yummy for breakfast or good ‘ol snacking!

Tip: Make several large batches while keeping costs low—hit up BJs or Costco for the granola base and then add in your favorite extras!

Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a large bowl, mix granola and other ingredients of your choice (dried fruit, chopped nuts, seeds, coconut, cinnamon, etc.).
  2. Pour into glass jar and tie on a colorful ribbon or decorate with a sprig of holly. Looking good!
Flavored Oils

 

Ok, this gift was the Present du Jour of the 90’s, but it still stands up because it’s so darn good! You can find tall glass bottles (make sure it has a lid) from Homegoods or Marshalls and this gift can be used as a dipping sauce for bread, a base for salad dressings or a topping for pizza, steaks or chicken. Yum!

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Pour olive oil into container until ¾ full.
  2. Add in herbs or spices (rosemary, basil, red pepper flakes, full garlic cloves, ground pepper—whatever you like!)
  3. Securely cap and tie with a pretty ribbon and holiday tag and enjoy!
Hot Chocolate Kits

 

This is an adorable gift that’s fun for the whole family. I’ve seen many of these “kits” that have layers and layers of elements but keep it simple, and practical, by just including hot cocoa mix and marshmallows in the jar. Easy in, easy out.

Tip: Again, to keep costs low, you can hit up the wholesale clubs for larger containers of hot cocoa mix.

Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a large glass mason jar (pasta sauce or purchase the large canning jars), fill 2/3 full with hot cocoa mix.
  2. Fill the rest of the jar with mini marshmallows and cover tightly.
  3. Bundle together 3 candy canes with some cute ribbon or twine and tie around lid.
  4. Cover top of lid with custom label (a circle cut from plain paper and attached with glue stick works great or print something cute off of your computer) and write a sweet holiday note.
Assorted Nut Jar

 

We really value the relationships we have with other friends and neighbors, but with the day to day grind, our gratitude often goes unsaid. The holidays are a great time to say thanks! This gift couldn’t be easier, but the message is simple: We’re Nuts About You.

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Fill a large glass jar with an assortment of IN-SHELL nuts (you can usually find mixed assortments in the produce section of your grocery store during the holiday season).
  2. Tighten lid, cover top with a square of holiday-themed cloth and tie around lid with some cute ribbon, twine or other material.
  3. Tie a single nutcracker around lid and include holiday tag that says something like “We’re Nuts About You.” Awwwwww.

PS: If you prefer to make your own nuts, there are tons of recipes on the web for making sweet and savory nuts— and it’s so easy! Fill a jar with an assortment. So good!

Do you have a standard, inexpensive gift for friends and family? Please share!

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