Better-For-You DIY Food Gifts

It’s perfectly fine to want to thoroughly enjoy all the holiday foods at this time of year—they’re a wonderful part of the season and a big part of celebrations big and small. But when it comes to gifts, might I suggest that this year you skip the store-bought candle or gift card and create something practical, personal and delicious for the people on your list?

A homemade gift done well is a wonderful thing—both for the recipient and the giver. Yes, you’ll need to spend a little time on these gifts, but that’s part of what makes it special (and you’ll likely save money, too). Homemade doesn’t have to mean sweet—there are no cookies or fudge on this list. These are ideas that keep health in mind as well as good taste…

Spice and Seasoning Mixes

Getting a cute jar of home-mixed spices along with a couple of recipe ideas for using it is an easy gift that anyone can put together (it’s fun to do with kiddos, too). This idea is also great when you need to make a lot of gifts because you can make it in bulk and simply divide it up into cute little jars (easily found online or in craft stores). Then just add a ribbon, a label, and ideas or an appropriate recipe for using the mix. It’s easy to make it person—give jars of your famous BBQ rib rub, for example. Or check Pinterest for spice mix ideas; some of my favorites include dukkah (amazing on vegetables and fish), apple pie spice (so good on oatmeal, yogurt, or sprinkled on coffee grounds before brewing) and ranch dressing/seasoning mix (tasty on freshly popped popcorn or to mix up a quick dip or dressing).

Extra presentation points: Tie on a set of measuring spoons.

Hot Beverage Mixes

Along the same lines as the seasonings mixes, hot beverage mixes are a natural for winter gifts. Think chai tea mix, peppermint hot cocoa mix, or mulled cider mix. Place it in a decorative bag with directions on how to prepare the beverage.

Extra presentation points: Present it in a cute mug.

Home-canned Preserves

I don’t know a soul who wouldn’t appreciate a taste of summer’s bounty during the winter. I happen to love getting home-canned items from friends during the holidays. I love trying someone’s prized bread-and-butter pickles, or their “secret recipe” salsa. I myself make jam that I give as gifts, but even my humble applesauce makes a nice hostess gift (I make a few jars with added cranberries to make it more festive for gifting).

Extra presentation points: Tie on a hand-written recipe card to share the love.

Homemade Granola

Making granola at home allows you to tailor the ingredients just the way you want (use certified gluten-free ingredients if your recipient needs that, or skip the nuts if your giftee has an allergy). You can also cut down on the amount of added fat and sugars when you make granola at home. Opt for high-quality ingredients in interesting combos that aren’t typical of packaged granolas: think gingerbread granola with chopped crystallized ginger and warm spices, or tropical granola with plenty of coconut and dried tropical fruits.

Extra presentation points: Placing granola into a snap-close canister is thoughtful, or place a pretty bag of your granola into a cereal bowl for a convenient breakfast theme.

Quinoa Granola

Quinoa Granola

Three Guiding Stars iconThree Guiding Stars indicate the best nutritional value. Check out this 3-star Quinoa Granola for a gluten-free, lower sugar option (consider making a double or triple batch for a generous gift).

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