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Homemade holiday gifts, any thoughts?

Yes, I did a search, but new hounds join on a regular basis and people come up with new ideas pretty frequently. I am definitely going to do spiced nuts this year, but I am thinking of healthful/gourmet twist on those meals in a jar using no perishable ingredients. I was thinking of incorporating the jar in a basket with some good crackers and wine. Soups come to mind. Any ideas? Other ideas other than jarred soup are also welcomed.Thanks

Here's an example:


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  1. Did you mean this link:

    What a great idea...the link I posted is for split pea soup but there's a second one also.

    thanks Tracy!

    1. I've made granola and given it as a well-received holiday gift. There are endless variations, depending on the flavorings, sweeteners, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits you use. Maple, orange, crystallized ginger, and dried cranberries are good seasonal flavors.

      1. A few weeks ago, I made jars of Poblano Tomatillo Salsa & okra pickles from ingredients in my garden. I'll be giving away some as gifts. The salsa will be great warmed & topped with crumbled Queso fresco and served with some crackers or fresh tortilla chips or added to some crusted chunks of pork in a stew.

        I added ancho chiles & garlic to the okra pickles to give them a smoky flavor; they'll be good on a veggie tray or in a sandwich and as a garnish in a bloody Mary or tomato margarita...

        1. I may have posted this on the older thread, but:

          For friends who enjoy cooking I often make and give Moroccan style preserved lemons in a pretty jar with recipes/suggestions.

          For more casual gifts (and for those "surprise" situations) I make a little gourmet coffee break pack. I put together mini bags of good coffee beans and dip good quality plastic spoons in melted chocolate, which can be flavored. I arrange the coffee, chocolate covered spoon and home made biscotti in a holiday theme mug and wrap with clear cello wrap and curly ribbons. If I end up with some leftover I just take out the components and we use them up!

          1. I make jellies and jams and give them out as gifts. Or I take a jar or two, depending on jar size, when I am invited to a holiday dinner when my spouse is out to sea. Ditto with homemade pumpkin bread or cranberry bread.

            7 Replies
            1. re: KristieB

              If you can, jams and jellies with unusual (but not what most people consider "weird") flavors are always a hit, I've found. I did lemon marmalade in smallish jars one year, and people still ask me to do that one again.

              1. re: dmd_kc

                Do you need canning equipment to make jams & jellies?

                1. re: Val

                  Not unless you consider a large deep pot to be "canning equipment"! I have a small pressure cooker that fits pint jars but I NEVER use it for jams -- you don't need it. The sugar and acid are preservative enough.

                  1. re: LauraGrace

                    Thank you, LG...must investigate this.

                    1. re: Val

                      My pleasure. And now's the time to buy jars and the like -- in many places they'll be on sale, bein's how it's the end of the season!

                      Marmalades are wonderful gifts -- homemade marmalade is far superior to that over-sweetened goo most people know, and it doesn't even require pectin.

                      1. re: Val

                        There are lots of threads about canning with basic info on Home Cooking, but for a primer, I recommend the Ball Blue Book.

                  2. re: dmd_kc

                    That's my MO too.

                    I make flavors they're not going to find in the grocery.

                    This years gifts include: Strawberry Basil, Ginger Lemon Marmalade and Blueberry Lemon. I also did some Asian style pickles.

                2. I know it sounds silly but I give homemade dog biscuits cut out with a bone-shaped cookie cutter to all my friends with dogs and they are a huge hit every time. (Usually cookies or spiced nuts for the two-footers.)

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: GretchenS

                    What a sweet idea Gretchen!
                    I'll bet it goes over well with both the 4-footers and the 2-footers!

                    1. re: GretchenS

                      That's a great idea! My "baby" would love something like that...would you mind sharing your recipe for the biscuits?

                      1. re: Cherylptw

                        Sorry for the delay. Here's the recipe I use, but there are lots out there in Google-land.

                        1 lb extra-lean ground beef
                        2 eggs, beaten
                        3 cups all-purpose flour
                        1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
                        1 cup water

                        Preheat oven to 350. Mix beef and eggs well, using food processor or cake beaters. Mix flour and oats in a large bowl, then add beef mixture and knead together with your hands (this part is great fun for kids to do). Add the water and blend in well (at this stage it’s like stirring cement). Divide in half and knead on a floured surface, using more flour as necessary, until you get a nice dough. Roll it out to about ½ an inch or a little less, then cut out, preferably using a bone-shaped cookie cutter (although squirrels are nice too). Repeat with other half. Use a lightly-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for an hour or so, depending on thickness. Cool on a rack.

                        I have made plaque-buster ones too but they are less popular (no beef is my diagnosis).

                        1. re: GretchenS

                          Here's the plaque-buster recipe, it sure beats spending $16 on a bag at the pet boutique and you can get most of the ingredients cheap in the bulk bins. I think I subbed low-salt chicken or beef broth for the boullion cube and water.

                          1. re: GretchenS

                            Thanks for the recipe Gretchen - I think with 6 dogs in the family (only one in my house) these will be a big hit and make excellent gifts.

                            Miss Missy will be my taste tester, Cash, Kilo, Buster,Toby, and Nicki will have to wait!
                            Wonder if cats might like them too...

                      2. re: GretchenS

                        Not silly at all, all my friends have pets. Back when I was flush I spent $80 on holiday gifts for friends and neighbors pets at a boutique. I got some cute things but homemade is the way to go!

                      3. If it does not have to be edible and if you have wine corks in abundance, they can be crafted into kitchen trivets, Christmas ornaments, even wreaths.

                        1. This year I'm making Limoncello.
                          I usually make jams and cookies - I'm stepping out this year...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Cookiefiend

                            Limoncello here, too. Mine didn't turn out so well last year, so I'm going to try it again.

                            1. re: MartinDC

                              Would love to make some. Went to Google and they had many recipes. Could you share yours or recommend one? -thanks

                            1. Last year we gave home roasted coffee and half pints of niter kibbeh with a printed explanation of what it is and how it can be used.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: BeaN

                                niter kibbeh, what a great idea! My friends and I just returned from East Africa.

                              2. Last year I made streusel (like cake topping) and wrapped it up in cellophane bags with colored ribbons... people went NUTS for it.

                                I also use Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread mini-loaves as gifts year-round.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Emme

                                  I love that streusel idea. Would you mind sharing the recipe?

                                  1. re: GretchenS

                                    i just do a traditional pie streusel...

                                    1 cup flour
                                    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
                                    1/2 tsp cinnamon
                                    10 tbsp unsalted butter
                                    pinch of salt
                                    sometimes a dash of vanilla

                                    cut together into coarse crumbs, spread in a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 350-375 depending upon your oven for about 40-45 minutes, but check and stir at 20 min, and watch every 5-10 so that it doesn't burn. take out of oven when golden. you can easily double, triple, etc. the amounts.

                                    1. re: Emme

                                      Thanks! So then you bag it up and people can just sprinkle it on sliced fruit or whatever?

                                      1. re: GretchenS

                                        bag it yes... in theory, put it where you like, but most people, including me, just like to eat it plain... with a spoon... as most tend to pick it off of coffee cake or pie anyway... cut out the vehicle and just provide the topping ;)

                                2. I haven't had made this in years, but I just had somebody who I gave it to at least 20 years ago ask me about it--he still remembered it! It's the best homebrew coffee liqueur I've ever had. I went all out, made fancy patent-medicine labels for the bottles...it was quite a production, and always a big hit.

                                  Caroline Cogswell's Celebrated Morning Tonic
                                  (A Spiced Coffee Liqueur)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                                    Yes, I have a Bailey's homemade recipe that I used to make and give out around the holidays...but it's kind of expensive because it calls for Irish Whiskey ... and not everyone can have alcoholic drinks....but it's a darned good sub for the real thing which is WAY over-priced.

                                    1. re: Val

                                      Yeah, that's one reason I haven't made it in a while--seems like the older I get, the more of my friends are in recovery.

                                  2. A friend and I are setting up a date to make up a batch of several panfortes in a couple of weeks. They are so delicious, and are a great holiday treat . . . also good with a little age on them. Here's a chowhound thread I found while looking for recipes:

                                    1. I've been thinking about this too. Last winter I was hoping to make homemade marshmallows, and package with mug, and cocoa mix. But I didn't get it done.

                                      This year I'm pondering making three different kinds of homemade mustards for small jars. There are lots of fun variations.

                                      1. Dh & I can our own pickled garlic, roasted peppers in vinegar, tomatoes, eggplant and infused olives each year. We also dry 50% of the gardens herbs from the summer plot. Come Thanks giving & Christmas we fill a brown bag (sandwich size) with dried herbs along with a jar of the canned veggies and give them as holiday party gifts. Granted, we've done some pre-planning but most of the basic recipes can be done now and given as gifts this year. All of the canned veggies go well with good crackers and wine!

                                        The dried herb sachets are just our signature gift but the canned thing has really become a fun family project. My kids ran the jam, jelly & chutney "line" this year and did really well.

                                        1. I recently discovered Firefly sweet tea vodka, and plan to try to replicate it for gifts.It is made in South Carolina from local tea leaves, and is not too sweet. I think steeping whole tea bags with a bit of simple syrup in vodka should do it. This stuff is awesome, and I'll enjoy the mistakes, I'm sure!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mothrpoet

                                            I have drank, for about two years now, Ice Picks. It is simply Iced Tea, your choice of Vodka, lemon, and your choice of sweeteners....

                                            I became intolerant to sugary drinks about two years ago, even fruit juices make me ill if mixed with alcohol... so a bar tender suggested an Ice Pick with splenda. It is almost the only thing I drink now and love it!!!

                                          2. I made homemade marshmallows. I put the in a basket with hot chocolate and a board game and people loved it. I used Ina Gartens recipe but left out the coconut. Juli


                                            1. Today a friend gave me a homemade gift of pumpkin pie spice. One jar each of whole cinnamon, clove and nutmeg and a small pot of ground ginger along with a medium grater and this recipe for the blend:
                                              4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
                                              2 teaspoons ground ginger
                                              1 teaspoon ground cloves
                                              1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

                                              Just perfect this time of year! Maybe you could make a few holiday spice blends for your gifts.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                Fresh grated nutmeg is the best smell!!! Preground nutmeg should be against the law.

                                              2. I made caramel corn I got from e-Gullet. I added pecans, walnuts, almonds and cranberries. Boy, was it YUMMY! I had to control myself from eating them. I put them in jars with rubberized flip lids. Everybody loved them. I lost the recipe but you can easily google it. Just be patient and give it a lot of stirring. Adjust the caramel for the extras nuts that you add in.

                                                1. I made Belgium waffles with pearl sugar and they were a hit. I drizzle white and dark chocolate on top. I initially wanted to wrap them in cellophane but was worried about the sugar sweating and messing up the package. I wrapped each waffle loosely with wax paper and put a couple of them in a paper bag. I hole-punched the top and tied a ribbon through it. Next year I may make the same thing but make the packaging a little more impressive.

                                                  1. Thanksgiving I caught a cold, so my grand ideas had to be scaled down. I made Ginger Cranberry Granola. My friends and love ginger and granola so it was perfect. It was so easy to make too. I even treated myself to new cookie sheets. Now I can be a granola making fool. I did look at Mollie Katzen's lower fat and sugar granola which I might make for myself next month.