Top Ten Homemade Gift Ideas

November 16, 2008

Let's face it, the last few months have been rough financially. We've seen our 401-Ks plummet, our IRAs slashed, and for too many, the loss of jobs and benefits. It has left us all crying a collective "Uncle!" With the holidays lurking around the corner hissing "spend, spend, spend!" it just makes me want to curl up in the fetal position until it all goes away.

Then I suddenly stopped my negative thought train and said to myself, "Whoa, slow down there, Turbo! There's need to give Le Creuset pots and Nintendo Wii for Christmas this year. Just give something from the heart."

Isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is all about anyway? Sure, it's easy to go online and click! click! our way through our holiday shopping lists, but spending a few hours (or even just a couple) crafting something lovingly with your own that is a gift.

So I've taken a few of our Foodista reader favorites, plus a few more, and wrapped them up in a tidy little gift idea list. All of them are easy. Some so easy you will squeal giddily, others requiring a bit more time, but most importantly, all are sure to please.

Top Ten Homemade Gift Ideas
*See below for packaging resources

  1. Kathy's Biscotti - this is about the best darn biscotti recipe ever. I give them every year for Christmas.
  2. Red Pepper Jelly - always a beautiful gift and just the thing to have on hand for entertaining.
  3. Dukkah - an Egyptian treat, this delicious and fragrant blend of ground nuts, seeds, and spices is all the rage.
  4. Harissa - just the thing for those who like it hot!
  5. Gourmet Salts - for three outstanding varieties get out a big bowl and simply mix Kosher salt with the following: dried lemon peel and rosemary; rosemary and lavendar; smoked paprika. Or be creative with your own blends.
  6. Cheddar Dill Scones - these won't last long under the tree and are just the thing to nosh on on Christmas morn.
  7. Lemon Curd - if you're lucky your gift recipient will crack the jar right open and share a little with you.
  8. Limoncello - the all-time Foodista favorite, this delicious drink is well worth making. Beautiful poured into swing top glass bottles.
  9. Cranberry Orange Shortbread - beautiful and yummy!
  10. Seasoned Vinegar -  The easiest thing on the list to make and you can use your recycled wine bottles! We discovered this at a barbeque in Argentina. It’s simply this: pour a bunch of Kosher salt into a wine bottle. By a bunch I mean a bunch, like a cup. Add a few cloves of garlic, don’t be shy now. And finally, fill with white distilled vinegar and shake up that salt. Like wine, it just gets better with time. In fact, make it at least a couple of weeks in advance or tell the lucky recipient to let it age a bit to let the salt fully dissolve and the garlic to penetrate the vinegar. Feel free to add a big ole fat sprig of fresh rosemary too. This is so easy and staggeringly good on grilled meats, chicken, vegetable or sprinkled over fresh sliced tomatoes.

Packaging Ideas:

Jars: For any gifts being packaged in jars (i.e. Red Pepper Jelly, Harissa, Lemon Curd, Dukkah) I recommend half-pint (or pint) Ball jars, I love the wide mouth Platinum series too. Most supermarkets are well-stocked this time of year and they're relatively inexpensive, or check out for a good selection. . Tie on your own little hand-written labels with a bit of ribbon or raffia.

Bottles: the limoncello is best in clear bottles because the color is gorgeous. I love these swingtop bottles on or simply go for a less expensive corked or screw top bottle.

Tin containers: also from, these tin containers with clear tops are food-grade. Perfect for the salts and dukkah. I get the 4 oz. round ones.

Cellophane baggies: check for a variety of sizes and colors, or your local craft store.



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Deborah Smith's picture

Great ideas. I will definitely be scaling back on gift buying this year. Pepper Jelly is my favorite thing on the planet, so I'll be fixing a batch for sure. Thanks for the jar resource.

Dee's picture

Thanks for posting this. The vingar is really intriguing to me. I think I will make some and see how it comes out, then get the production line going!!

dreama's picture

These ideas are EXACTLY what I needed to know about for the holidays. They are perfect for a hostess gift for the holiday parties this time of year!!! Thanks for the blog.

Mercina's picture

Hey, thanks for posting this. This is a really great idea. I've actually been trying out a couple of different recipes for fudge, thinking it would be a nice gift to give to friends for Christmas. Your lemoncello looks fantastic!

Maris's picture

I love giving biscotti as a gift. There are some cookies that I feel like are best 1-2 days out of the oven but biscotti has a little bit longer of a shelf life.

Some of your ideas are so great, and ones I would never thought of! Thanks!

Marilyn's picture

Great ideas! Not only will they be just as good Down Under, but also I will be passing this site on. Have a wonderful holiday Season and (very) warm wishes from Alice Springs, Central Australia!

Jackie's picture

What a wonderful post!! Thank you a million x over for this one. I was also thinking of making homemade pasta and pizza dough to give as gifts...does anyone know if they're OK to freeze so that they can be enjoyed year-round??

Sheri Wetherell's picture

I get frozen pizza dough at Di Laurenti's market here in Seattle and it bakes up wonderfully (you just let it rise for about a half hour). As for freezing pasta dough, I am not sure, but I don't see why you can't! Great idea, Jackie!!

EW's picture

I love these ideas! They are great. The Lemon Curd sounds yummy!

I found some really great homemade recipes and gifting/craft ideas online yesterday at they are pretty kid friendly too, which helps a SAHM like myself have something constructive to do. Check it out if you have sometime, it seems you would like it!