Last year the girls and I made gift bags full of homemade goodies for Christmas, and they were a big hit! So I thought I’d share some tips on how to make real food gifts for the holidays.
Your gift Container – Bags or Boxes
I didn’t put a lot of work into the bag itself, but went to the dollar store and bought large gift bags. You could get a lot more imaginative than I did here, and still not break the bank. Keep in mind, all of the bags/boxes don’t have to be the same. Look around your house to see if you have anything that you could reuse and spruce up. I have a box that some sheets came in this year that would be perfect to cover with some nice paper. The box could then even be reusable by the gift recipient.
Many of us buy rice in bulk, and so you may have some of those burlap rice bags sitting around. I have always thought these would make an interesting gift bag that could be reused. I’ve even seen people make purses out of these!
Who doesn’t love a baked sweet treat now and then? You CAN make these healthier than their white flour & sugar alternatives. The real food alternatives have more nutrients in them and you don’t eat as many because they are more filling. I used the baked good bags from the dollar store to package these.
Here are some ideas on baked goods to include in your gift bags:
Nuts [See my Resources] are wonderful, especially when from local farms, and make great gifts when soaked & dehydrated and then covered with good salts, quality herbs & spices and/or natural sweeteners.
Here are some posts on nuts to get you started:
Package the nutty delectables in small cellophane bags with some ribbon.
Dried Fruits, Veggies or Herbs
Use up any bounty you have, such as apples, pears or other fruits, dehydrate them and package them in cellophane bags for super healthy and yummy snacks.
Homemade Soup Kit
Make a ‘homemade soup kit’ with a jar of frozen homemade chicken or beef stock, and dehydrated chopped vegetables & herbs in a little bag, and rice or pasta. You could even provide a jar of uncooked but already soaked beans. Add some simple directions, and you have a tasty gift!
Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Kits – Template Below!
Last year, we made chocolate chip cookie kits. Meaning, we provided the dry ingredients in bags (I bought dollar store baked good bags) with directions and the gift recipient can then choose when to make them. This is be a great idea to pair with a favorite DVD for people to put on their own easy movie night. You could go crazy with the food kit themes (a pasta theme would be easy with home canned spaghetti sauce – yum).
For directions to place on the bags, print out the template included below (there are 4 per page). See my Resources for help with ingredients such as coconut oil/flour, sprouted flour, almond flour, spices/salt, nuts, tomato products in glass jars, organic pasta. You could even do a gluten free, grain free, paleo or primal food kit!
Here’s a great Recipe To use as a kit: Grain-free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients in each bag:
- 3 cups blanched almond flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp celtic sea salt
- separate little bag: 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (use expeller pressed if you don’t want the taste of coconut)
- separate little bag: 1 1/2 (or less) cups organic semisweet chocolate chips
- in a small jar: 1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup (you could substitute granulated palm sugar or coconut sugar – Rapadura may work too but I haven’t tried it)
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Yes, you CAN make homemade vanilla for presents this year, even if you haven’t started yet! Normally it takes about six months for homemade vanilla to ‘cure’. I have a cheat method for you below. Of course the vanilla tastes even better in a few months, but with this method people can start using it right away.
Materials Needed to make 4 8 ounce jars/bottles:
- 1 jar per gift – I found some small jars online last year, but they didn’t seal well. Something with a cork would good. Reuse containers where you can to avoid buying and to keep the cost down.
- 4 large vanilla beans (See Resources). If the jars are over about 8 ounces you will want to use two beans per jar.
- One quart of alcohol – including vodka, rum, bourbon, whiskey or even tequila.
- Large mason jar or other sealable glass container – you will need room for all of the vanilla beans AND some room for shaking.
- Pour alcohol into the large mason jar or other sealable glass container. I used a partially full tequila bottle.
- If you happen to be using very old vanilla beans that have lost moisture, soak the beans in hot water for about 15 minutes. Only do this with old, dry vanilla beans.
- Slice each vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, and put the scraped out seeds into the jar with the alcohol.
- Depending on the length of the beans, you may need to cut the empty pods in half. Then put all of the empty pods into the alcohol mixture too.
- Cure the vanilla in a dark place, shaking daily or as often as you think of it. Usually you would cure a minimum of 2 months, but 6 is better.
- When you need to package the vanilla into gifts, fish out one vanilla bean, place in gift jar/bottle and then cover with the vanilla.
- HERE’s the Cheat part: Add a bit of store bought REAL vanilla extract (one teaspoon to one Tablespoon for each 8 ounces) to each jar, just enough to give it more color. You can skip this part if you let the vanilla cure for at least a month or two.
- Even with the ‘cheat’ this vanilla will taste better than almost any store bought vanilla.
Menu or Recipe Cards
You could do this gift in a couple different ways, easy to more difficult. The easy way is to print out some of your family’s recipes onto nice cards or even make a booklet of them. Harder (but what a great gift) would be to print out a ‘menu’ (taking the gift receiver’s dietary needs into account) and let them know that you will deliver this meal to them on a certain day. What a great gift!
All you need are:
- 4×4 white tiles ($.16 at Home Depot)
- 4×4 scrapbook paper (you can buy the 12×12 stacks and cut)
- adhere to tile with Mod Podge (to make this homemade just use half white Elmer’s glue and half water)
- Let the coaster dry, and then spray a coat of clear laquer and let dry
- attach felt pads to the bottom
Ok one more… Sparkly Candle Idea
Sorry I know, this one isn’t even REMOTELY food related, but I love it! I got this idea from The Inspired Room and it’s super easy – just mod podge (homemade version of mod podge: half white Elmer’s glue, half water) candles then roll in epsom salt. The salt sparkles like snow.
Please Share your Ideas
Do you give homemade food related gifts that aren’t included here? Please let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear about your ideas!
This post is in Hartke is Online Weekend recipe carnival.