Over the holidays is when I have the most occasions to cook and bake.
As we end the first week of December, I want to share with you my easy & inexpensive #DIY Holiday gifts that I have made this year…hopefully, you will become inspired to make your own homemade gift or one of the recipes I am sharing with you! Almost all the gifts in this blog can be made in a day, are so easy to make, delicious, & inexpensive, which at this time of year, is music to the ears! I’m not sure about you, but as I create my “gift list”, it seems that the list gets longer every year, which in some ways, is fine, as this month is the “Season of Giving”. Most of us, however, do not have endless resources, and buying gifts for so many people can become quite the financial burden over time.
Again, though, this is the “Season of Giving”. To me, giving a DIY or homemade gift says so much. It shows that you actually took the time to do something for someone else & you put a great amount of thought into it. After all, in any gift, it is always about the thought behind the gift that counts, rather than the gift itself, right? The same goes for entertaining…
So, let’s put that time & thought to work! My DIY Holiday Gifts for this season need just a little planning…lots of peppers for making Habañero-Jalapeño Jelly…dried & fresh cranberries for Cranberry Vanilla Vinegar & Cranberry Mostarda…a week for Holiday Liquor…& bananas for Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread…vanilla beans for Vanilla-Scented Syrup…perhaps a trip to your favorite craft store…once you have what you need, the execution is a cinch! SO, let’s get going…time’s a wasting…
One of my favorite gifts to make & give is hot pepper jelly…people love to receive it…& hot pepper jelly is versatile…it is great on sandwiches, cheeses & grilled/roasted meats! I even like hot pepper jely with sweet butter on toast! Anyhoo, this past spring, Bert planted a BUNCH of habañero & jalapeño plants. When we started harvesting the peppers…which were plentiful, I might add…I thought to myself, “What in the world are we going to do with all these peppers?” Seriously.
Bert thought of making the jelly. The nicest thing about combining the habañeros with the red jalapeños (we left the jalapeños remain on the plants until the peppers turned a beautiful shade of Christmas Red) was the jelly became a brilliant red-orange! I had actually made the jelly in mid-October, so the color was spectacular for both Halloween & Thanksgiving, and is also very festive as Holiday gifts! I served the Habañero-Jalapeño Jelly with cream cheese, as well as with goat cheese…both were delicious & beautifully simple appetizers. I ordered the labels from Minnie & Emma Correspondence…I also went to Michael’s & bought gift tags & bags, so I could “fussy” up the jars just a tad! Whether you add a ribbon, a tag, or the whole shabang, it really doesn’t matter…everyone will love this DIY Holiday gift! The hot pepper jelly truly is delish!
I also have “canned” or processed two other goodies this season! Do you remember my recipe for Cranberry Mostarda? This Italianate cranberry sauce was probably the biggest hit this Holiday season! Everyone who has tried it has loved it, which is great! So many friends have asked me if I could share some with them for entertaining that I decided finally to process some…the jars are really beautiful & I love the pink gift tags! One recipe makes about 6 jars…I doubled the recipe for a dozen jars, which will definitely be given as gifts! Cranberry Mostarda also has a wide variety of uses…with cheeses, grilled meats, in sandwiches…you definitely should make some & let me know what you think!
Another lovely gift is Cranberry Vanilla Vinegar, which is one of the major ingredients in Cranberry Mostarda. Made with Ground Tahitian Vanilla Bean from Williams-Sonoma, fresh cranberries, cranberry juice & apple cider vinegar, this is a flavorful vinegar with a wonderful aroma that will enhance salads, marinades, fruits…& even vanilla ice cream…it is so yummy! Just wrap a pretty lime green ribbon around the beautiful raspberry pink bottle & you are done!
Holiday Liquor is a delectable concoction I created when The Fresh Market had a surplus of raspberries around Thanksgiving. Émilie convinced me to buy an overabundance of the pink berries, then quickly became sick of eating them. That left me with a bunch of raspberries, I promise you. I am a big believer in “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”, so I had to think of something to do with the raspberries that did not involve eating the little rascals. Bert had also bought a ton of cranberries, so I got to thinking…we also had a bunch of vodka. Problem solved. Vanilla bean & orange peels were also added to the vodka, then refrigerated for a week to allow the flavors from the fruits & vanilla infuse into the alcohol. After I strained the vodka, I added simple syrup to the infused vodka…the result was fabulous! Be warned though…a little goes a long way, which makes Holiday Liquor perfect for gift-giving! I tried the tasty liquor in a variety of ways, from mixing with eggnog to adding a splash with Champagne or Proseeco…so good! Holiday Liquor is certainly festive…serve the liquor icy cold in shot glasses…now, that’s a way to celebrate!
Next…Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread…it just so happens that some of us do not drink alcohol, are not lovers of “hot” & cranberry anything is just weird. But, who doesn’t love banana bread? The only issue is dressing up the bread a smidge, to make it more festive. I have often added either semisweet or white chocolate chips to the bread with good results. Recently, I added both white & dark chocolate chips, as well as Heath® Bits…all I can say is YUM. I brought the bread to new neighbors, who raved about the bread, & asked for the recipe…well, I then decided to make this banana bread as neighborhood Holiday gifts…the breads were delivered yesterday & were well-received. Yippee! The breads also freeze well, making it perfect to serve while opening presents on Christmas morning. I also baked some of the loaves in these cute loaf pans from Simply Baked, which add a festive touch to this classic. Whether you bake the banana breads in tins or these adorable loaf pans from Simply Baked, be sure to wrap the banana breads in clear gift bags with a ribbon & a gift tag from Michael’s…the breads look great & are so easy to do! DIY Holiday gifts are never been easier!
Lastly, the easiest DIY Holiday gift ever…Vanilla Scented Syrup. I am not kidding…this DIY Holiday gift has become a pantry staple…the syrup, which is more of a delicious vanilla sugar paste, is fabulous served on pancakes & waffles, toast, pastries & is incredible in both hot & cold tea. Did I mention that coffee has never tasted better? Process the syrup in 4-ounce jars…again, a little goes a long way as a gift!
I hope that I have inspired you with my DIY Holiday gift ideas for this Holiday season. All the gifts are wonderful hostess gifts as well! Whether you have time to make all the gifts…or just one gift…I hope you have as much fun making the gifts as I have!
Again, it’s the time & thought that makes a Holiday gift memorable & special to those who receive…just as in entertaining! Happy Holidays! Cheers!
Easy & Inexpensive DIY Holiday Gifts…from Your Kitchen…