Holiday Gift Ideas Straight Out of Your Pantry
When it comes to thinking up creative holiday gifts, it's worth taking a look in your pantry. If you're looking for a way to make your own holiday gift from scratch, consumables — better known as food — can be the way to go. After all, you're giving something that shows that you're willing to spend time on a gift, something that tastes great and something the recipient doesn't have to find a way to store.
The Traditional Baked Goods
When it comes to holiday gifts, it's hard to go wrong with cookies. I've long made a habit of handing out plates of cookies to people I want to acknowledge during the holiday season — but who I might not know well enough for a personalized gift, such as co-workers or professors. I've found that if I start baking cookies a little early and freeze them, I can make a surprising variety. Then I defrost just in time to put together plates and drop them off with my friends. Be absolutely certain of what ingredients you use, though — setting off someone's allergies doesn't quite share holiday cheer the way you might hope.
Don't limit yourself to cookies, though: cakes, pies and other baked goods can definitely make great gifts. If you're worried about giving gifts on a budget, baked goods can be an easy way to stretch your money. Even chocolate chips are fairly inexpensive — and it's been my experience that people feel good when a friend shows that they're willing to take time to make a gift.
It's pretty easy to get tired of sweets during the holidays. Not as many people offer up savory treats, making them a nice change. One of my favorite savory treats that I've received at the holidays was a bag of beef jerky seasoned with a super-secret combination of spices. It was homemade and absolutely wonderful. There are plenty of other possibilities (some of which will work a little better for vegetarian friends and family members).
Make Up A Mix
Have a friend or relative who isn't the handiest in the kitchen? Grab a couple of jars and put together some baking mixes for them. When I was first learning to cook, I got several mixes of my grandmother's cookie recipes. There was a card with them, instructing me on what wet ingredients to add and how to bake my cookies. Even better, these mixes were for cookies not found at my local grocery store. I've also seen pancake, bread and other mixes — matched to the recipients' favorite treats when they come for a visit.
With certain family members, a rain check for a few home-cooked meals can come in handy. I know my cousin was actually grateful not to get a present one year: instead, the family kept her freezer filled with meals she could pop into the oven — especially useful because she was pregnant and not always up to cooking herself.
The ideas above are just a few examples. Over the years, I've received and given big blocks of fudge, jams and jellies, candies and — on one memorable occasion — a huge box of fruit. These gifts are appreciated just as much as less consumable presents, and they often work better with your budget. So, before you finish up your Christmas shopping, crack open a cookbook.