There are many reasons to make Christmas gifts of food. The gift is much more personal, you can save money and control nutrition for those on specialized diets, and you really do give a bit of your heart. Gifts from your kitchen are inexpensive and can be so thoughtful. Everyone appreciates a homemade gift!
These recipes for gifts can be given individually, or you can develop a theme and group a number of them in a large basket wrapped with cellophane paper and ribbons.
If you're giving cookies, for instance, tie a big bow on a beautiful basket and include several kinds of cookies along with some cookie cutters, a few recipes, and a cookie mix in a jar. Gifts of homemade liqueur would be great in a beautiful wooden box with a few pretty glasses, a shot glass for measuring, and some homemade snack mixes. Wrap up a few quick breads along with some beverage mixes, a few mugs, and a cutting board for a gift of breakfast in bed. And I really like the idea of giving a crockpot, filled with soup mixes and lots of different recipes.
Find decorative jars online and in specialty shops (make sure they are food safe) and antique stores. Purchase some holiday recipe cards for the recipes. And be sure to think about the recipient when making your gifts: do they enjoy baking or would they prefer a food gift that's ready to eat? Are they on a special diet or do they have food allergies?
This kind of thoughtful touch is what makes these gifts so special.
A food safety note: do not make flavored oils. The oxygen-free environment that exists around herbs, spices, and other ingredients placed into oils is the ideal place for botulism to grow. If you want to include a flavored oil in a gift basket, purchase commercially made flavored oils and do not transfer them to another bottle.
With everyone watching their budgets this year, save some money, unleash your creativity, and give a few gifts from your kitchen and your heart. Have fun making these gifts, and remember to enjoy the process. Have your kids help assemble these presents to teach them something about budgeting and enjoying the simple pleasures of the holiday season.