By Emma Chow
Honestly, I’ve given all of these things as Christmas gifts over the last few years. Family and friends really appreciate a little package of home-made deliciousness and these treats are far cheaper to make than their store bought counterparts, and can be tailor made to suit the tastes of your beloved. All you need are some cellophane bags, home made cardboard boxes, glass jars, pretty ribbon or string and tags to turn an easy home-made treat into a beautiful gift. Sharing these with you is my Christmas gift to you, MamaBakers. My family and friends read these pieces, and now know all the secrets behind my home made gifts. Better amp it up. If anyone knows how to make your own vodka from potatoes, let me know.
Every year the fancy English made shortbread brands bring out their collectible tins crammed full of buttery shortbread, though the product itself is no different than what you can get on supermarket shelves everyday. The home made stuff requires only 4 ingredients and a pinch of salt, and is far more delicious and tender than store bought. It still has a good natural shelf life too, being heavy on the butter. Find my recipe in our bake sale guide here.
I’ve given old fashioned butterscotch fudge as a gift many Christmases ago. But Karen made I Quit Sugar’s Salted Peanut Butter Fudge which has the bonus of being Vegan, so a great gift that can be given to more friends. You can find it here.
3. Home-Made Chocolate Bars
Karen is a real dab-hand and making home made versions of commercial chocolate bars. They always taste a thousand times better, are easy to make and so fun as a Christmas gift. You could do vegan and gluten free chocolate caramel rice cakes which taste just like a picnic bar, or home made cherry ripes which are refined sugar free.
4. Jarred Dry Mixtures
From Pancake mix to Hot Chocolate mixture and everything in-between, MamaBake recently posted 10 recipes for dry mixes that would make a great present, beautifully jarred, ribboned and labelled. Add a tag with instructions for how to use. Find the recipes here.
Ah Jam, ubiquitous toast covering. However, store bought stuff is pretty full of sugar. Also on a hot day it can be a bit of a drag standing over a bubbling, steaming pot. We have a shortcut for you, refrigerator chia jam. Requires only mixing, jarring and waiting. You don’t even need to add sugar, if your recipient is avoiding the sweet stuff. Best made with seedy berries.
6. Lemon curd
Lemon curd is such a completely delightful gift. A jar full of sweet tart sunshine that has so many applications, from tart fillings, to toast toppings. Even my partner’s grandmother – an expert curd maker – loves to receive a jar from a loved one. Possibly to compare it against her own. But she’d never say a word against it. Unless it was truly awful. She’s good like that. Michelle has an amazing curd recipe that will yield 3 cups, which is perfect for 3 225ml jars plus a little extra for you.
7. Fresh Gnocchi
Althea has a beautiful big batch gluten free gnocchi recipe right here. Decently made gnocchi in fancy pasta shops is really expensive, especially when you want enough for a family of four, or more! This recipe does 2 meals for a family of 4. Layer pieces between sheets of grease-proof paper and present in a clear box, or maybe a ceramic baking dish (which can be cheaply bought at any supermarket) and wrapped with clear cellophane. Maybe pair with a jar of home made tomato passata, and you’ve put together an incredible gift.
Such a traditional gift, gingerbread. Full of Christmas spices, this gingerbread recipe is big batch and is a wonderful packaged gift. You don’t have to do jars. You could make simple cardboard boxes lined with greaseproof paper, tied up with stringle, or use cellophane bags. Use simple cookie cutters, use a fancy embossed rolling pin or make little people and decorate with sweets.
9. Seed Brittle
Peanut brittle is delicious, unless you or a friend have a nut allergy. It also tends to have dairy, so not so ideal for Vegans. This pumpkin and sesame seed brittle recipe is made from just seeds, sugar, rice bran syrup, water and a touch of salt. It is quick to make, firms up beautifully and makes a lovely jarred gift.
10. Toasted Muesli
Make a friend a beautiful tall jar of home made toasted muesli. This simple recipe uses a dried fruit medley which you can get in packets at the supermarket or in a dry goods store. But you could also tailor the dried fruit, nuts and seeds to the taste of your friend or loved one. This recipe makes a massive 3kg batch. Decant into large jars, or a clear cellophane bag tied with ribbon.
11. English Muffins
A stack of a dozen English muffins, maybe wrapped in a twist of greaseproof paper and tied either end with string, makes a wonderful gift. It can be enjoyed by your recipient immediately, whether as a light snack while coming down from Christmas feasting, or a delicious breakfast. Great paired with a gift of curd or jam as listed above. The recipe yields at least 3 dozen, so you can give to many or keep some for yourself.
12. Home made Feta Cheese
A beautiful hunk of feta cheese in a jar of brine or perhaps olive oil, stuck with a few sprigs of thyme, labelled with a note from the maker. Kylie Archer, our personal master of cheese making (and also bread making and yogurt making for that matter), takes you through the step-by-step process of making your own feta cheese. You could place pieces of feta in large jars, pour over olive oil, add garden fresh herbs and let marinate. Advise your recipient to eat it within the month.
This is almost too easy. But it’s so good, and is especially nice when freshly made and poured into a tall stoppered bottle. IKEA now sells swing top bottles very cheaply, only a couple of dollars each and this is an easy limeade recipe to make just before you meet your recipient. Just decant into a bottle, add a tag tied on with ribbon, and you’re good to go.
14. Soft Caramels
Salted caramel was all the rage and is still crazily popular, and can be found in everything from ice cream to croissants. But sweet little caramels, individually wrapped make a sweet gift, and you can find the easy big batch recipe from Pia, here.
15. Home made bread
Bread made that very morning. Or even bread made just before leaving the house on your way to your gift recipient, the loaf still warm from the oven. Sounds magical, and is indeed a wonderful thing to receive, because bread is wholesome and earthy but also speaks of effort and care. I have a really quick and easy bread recipe that is particularly good for little rolls or for gluten free friends, Karen has an amazing recipe for gluten free rolls with sesame and chia seeds.