How to make the best homemade edible gifts this festive season
In a time where gifts tend to be bought last minute online, giving homemade edible gifts represents personal effort and time you took to show someone how much you care. It’ll mean that much more to the recipient, plus you’re spared having to brave the crowds while searching for the right item.
Why edible gifts are an all-around win
Homemade gifts aren’t just a Martha Stewart fad. They’re an overlooked gem, especially the edible ones, for these great reasons:
We all have different financial responsibilities. If you’re saving for something big, getting out of debt or just trying to keep fuel in your car, you have a right to prioritise those commitments without feeling like you need to capitulate to capitalism by going on a spending spree for gifts. Your friends and family will respect that, plus it will allow them the opportunity to reflect on their own relationship with societally pressured spending during the festive season.
Your homemade gift will be much healthier seeing as it won’t be made on a large scale with preservatives. Even if you gift homemade chocolates, it’s better than a store-bought box of Belgian chocolates from Benoni.
Because the currency that goes into these types of gifts is your love and time, the ingredients cost compared to store-bought items is a gift-giving bargain.
No more clutter
Guessing at what someone will enjoy eating is far easier than guessing at someone’s personal style or aesthetic. Your friends will be able to eat, enjoy and keep their homes tidy of trinkets.
Tips and tricks for making the best edible gifts
If you don’t consider the below points before you start, your edible gift-making experience could become an expensive, extravagant mess. These tips will keep your festive season simple and sensible, with a pinch of sentimental.
Go with what you know
- If you’re going to make something edible from the comfort of your kitchen, don’t make fancy French macarons or braided Slovak sweet bread you’ve only ever seen on Pinterest. Go with something simple and foolproof or that you’re used to making.
- If you have a reputation for making epic rusks then make rusks, of course! But for your Christmas gift batch you could up the ante with cranberries, cinnamon or other festive additions.
- If you have a penchant for spice combos, reach for your trusty pestle and mortar to make an epic dukkah-inspired rub for roasts instead of just a regular coriander lamb rub.
- Remember you’re not Snow White with a variety of eager animals at your assistance, meaning you don’t have the resources to make a different kind of edible gift for every family member.
- Make a few big batches of the same thing and decant them in jars or baggies for each family cluster or couple.
- Personalise the labels to show your consideration (or better yet, get the kids to draw on them while you cook).
If you’re going to make something once-off for a special someone, take a few minutes to delve into your memories of that person. Where there’s a story, there’s a good dose of sentiment waiting to be reactivated. Here are some examples to grease your gifting cogs:
- A road trip where you all pigged out on biltong? If you have a food dehydrator (or know someone who does!), make homemade biltong and remind them of that adventure.
- Perhaps a relative since passed who had a favourite snack? Make it and gift the memories of that person to the family.
- Make health bars to thank your varsity bestie for those late-night study sessions or getting you through a terrible break-up.
Consider the logistics
- Once you have an idea, give some thought to the weather and the recipient’s travel needs, eg. homemade chocolate might not be the best idea if there won’t be a fridge nearby to keep it from melting.
- If the recipient is travelling internationally soon, steer clear of biltong or dubiously infused substances.
- Avoid gifting fragile gingerbread houses – they’re bulky and breakable for travellers.
- What do you have on hand? Perhaps you’ve been blessed with an avocado tree in your garden? Why not whip up avo ice cream?
- You bulk-bought rooibos tea mid-winter. Add chamomile and lavender dried tea and make zen infusions in delicate vials.
- Got a friend with apricots coming out of their ears? Your jam jars are calling
Be done with the fanfare, pomp and ribbons that go with weeks of Christmas wrapping. The best gift-wrapping ticks one or more of these boxes:
- It’s upcycled, like a Grolsch beer bottle turned into a chilli sauce vessel.
- The recipient can reuse it, like a pretty jar that can also be a flower vase.
- Use twine or rafia for the label tie (this either decomposes or can easily be reused).
- Use plant sprigs or flowers for the décor. It’s free and eco-friendly.
- Tea towels make great ‘wrapping’ for baked goods like a sourdough or banana loaf.
Two super easy one-jar wonders
These are two quick and easy DIY edible gifts to make that almost everyone will love:
Great for your witchy friend:
- 1 cup rosemary, finely chopped – best picked in the morning when the oils are at their richest
- 3 cups coarse salt (sea or Himalayan)
- Whole rosemary sprigs, 1 per gift jar
- Small favour jars with cork lids (or any glass jars you have available)
- Before you chop the rosemary, give it a good wash and dry. It must be completely dry.
- Remove the little leaves from the stem and chop finely.
- Mix sea salt with the chopped rosemary.
- Pop in the oven and allow to dry on the lowest setting (50 – 100 °C) for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Leave to cool.
- Pop the whole sprig into the jar. Pinch it towards the side and decant the rosemary salt into the little bottle.
- Close the lid and you’ll have a magical finishing salt ready to be gifted!
This mix makes 3 cups of rosemary salt. Get creative with it by using any herbs available in your garden or farmer’s market. Any foodie will appreciate the delicious flavour this gift infuses into their cooking.
Toasted nut and seed mix
This one is always a hit!
- 2 cups sunflower seeds
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- Cashew nuts, chopped
- Almonds, chopped
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- Chilli spice
- Mix all the seeds and nuts together.
- Scatter the mixture (one small portion at a time – just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) into your biggest frying pan on a low heat. Toast for a few minutes.
- Just when they begin turning golden brown, add soy sauce into the pan and give it a quick stir.
- Toast for a further 5 – 8 minutes with a sprinkle of chilli spice until the seeds and nuts are a lovely deep golden brown.
- Remove and leave to cool.
- Decant into small gifting jars.
This mix also invites you to get creative with whatever combo of seeds and nuts you’d like to use. It makes for an excellent, healthy savoury snack or salad topper.
Here’s wishing you memories instead of malls, and culinary hacking with pool-side snacking!