I’m just going to come out and say it: I really don’t like to shop. And shopping at the holidays is really too much for me. The lines, the forgotten coupons, the midday hunger crash, the parking meter that needs more coins—I could go on.
Even though I was raised to be a good shopper (thanks, Mom!), as an adult I’ve found more fulfilling ways to spend my time (like cooking, for one). So giving a homemade gift from my kitchen is right up my alley. I get to shop at my favorite place—the grocery store—and spend time, perhaps even with my family, making yummy gifts I know my friends and family will enjoy. And I’ll save some money too!
Here are 10 easy homemade gift ideas courtesy of my fellow co-workers in the EatingWell Test Kitchen that you can make in an afternoon or less. And the recipes yield multiple servings/gifts, so you can cross a bunch of people off your list at once.
1. Maple-Nut Granola
Easy enough for kids to make, and delicious for breakfast or over low-fat vanilla yogurt, granola is a healthy homemade gift for everyone on your list. We love the maple-nut flavor combination of this heart-healthy granola, but feel free to substitute your favorite nuts or dried fruit for your own custom blend.
2. Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup Mix
This hearty soup makes an attractive homemade gift with layers of beans, barley and spices. Making your own dry soup mix from beans and spices couldn’t be easier. In an attractive clear glass jar (such as a Ball jar), layer the beans, barley and spices to artfully display the various shapes, sizes and colors. Add a ribbon and tag and you have a thoughtful and tasty gift for your co-workers.
3. Chocolate Nut Bark
Use your favorite combination of nuts to make this ultra-quick chocolate nut bark. Try unsalted nuts inside and add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to topping for a hit of salt and a pretty sparkle.
4. Spiced Nuts
For the nut lover in your life, make a tin of delicious spiced nuts. We have recipes for three different flavors: Curried Cashews, Five-Spice Pistachios and Chile-Lime Peanuts, but feel free to experiment with different nut and spice combos. Use our master method and keep the ratio of nuts, seasoning and liquid the same.
5. Blueberry-Pecan Pancake Mix
Say goodbye to frozen pancakes or box mixes: dried blueberries give this pancake mix rich blueberry flavor and the pecans liven up the texture with a bit of crunch.
6. Cranberry-Walnut Quick Bread
When I was a kid, my mom always made quick breads as gifts for my teachers. This classic recipe gets a healthy makeover and uses seasonal cranberries for holiday flavor.
7. Bittersweet Chocolate-Orange Truffles
While orange adds an exotic note, much of the flavor of these simple yet sophisticated candies comes from the chocolate, so choose a semisweet or bittersweet chocolate with the flavor and level of sweetness you enjoy. The recipe makes a big batch of truffles—plenty for gift-giving. Although they should be stored in the refrigerator, they're best served after sitting at room temperature for about 5 minutes.
8. Festive Fruit & Nut Balls
A no-bake, make-ahead treat, this perfect combination of fruit and nuts is a nutritious and delicious mouthful. Rolling them in shredded coconut gives them their festive look.
9. Chocolate Crunch
Crunchy wheat cereal, pretzels and almonds coated in bittersweet chocolate makes an addictive sweet-salty snack.
10. Tuscan Spice Rub
Take a trip to Italy with this Tuscan-inspired rub, aromatic with fennel, basil, garlic, rosemary and oregano. Try it on boneless, skinless chicken thighs, salmon steaks or lamb chops.