Gifts from Your Kitchen

Delicious homemade presents make holidays extra special.

Didn’t find what you were looking for on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Tired of surfing and searching the internet for hours? Maybe it’s worth thinking about a more personal and meaningful holiday gift, like something homemade from your kitchen. I find people really do like consumables during the holidays instead of things that they don’t really need or want.

There are so many foods you could make and give that won’t break the budget or your back, and will be most appreciated by the receiver.

Over the years, I have given every-thing from spicy mustards, to oil-cured tomatoes and marinated eggplant from my summer garden, to fancy bottles of homemade cherry and orange liqueurs.

Baked goods—like cookies and sweet breads—are the most common homemade gifts for foodie friends. And believe it or not, fruitcake—the old stalwart staple that has defined the holidays for generations—is really special when homemade and far superior to the commercially prepared ones that lack luster in taste and look. When the calendar page turns to October, it is time to make my husband’s favorite fruitcake—moist and chock full of dried fruits and nuts that are folded into a rich batter flavored with molasses and orange juice. After baking, the cake is carefully wrapped in cheesecloth and doused with port wine. Tucked away in a container, it has time to cure before being brought out with great Dickensonian pageantry in December and displayed on a fancy dessert plate. This cake is a gift that lasts well for several months, if properly stored.

Quick breads are also a good choice; they are, as their name implies, put together in no time, and make a nice gift paired with a tin of tea and a jar of jam.

Think cookies and bring out your favorite seasonal recipes; pretty, minty cookies looking like pinwheels as well as wafer-thin pizzelle cookies are always in demand. Place them in pretty boxes, or in unique containers or tins for gift giving.

Cut-out sugar cookies are the star for children of all ages—including Santa, who will also delight in finding a whimsical, sweet, little bear bread to munch on with a cup of hot cocoa to ward off the chill from his wintry ride.

Homemade gifts from your kitchen may just be the most cherished ones of all, because they make a personal statement of the true meaning of the holiday season with the focus on family and friends.