9 Creative and Inexpensive Gift Ideas That You Can Make in the Kitchen

Aren’t homemade gifts the best?

It doesn’t seem to matter if you’re the gift giver or the recipient, gifts crafted with a personal touch offer an intimate air that you just don’t find in commercially produced items.

9 Creative Gift Ideas That You Can Make in the Kitchen | Foodal.com

As the recipient, you get a lovely gift along with a small sample of the giver’s personality – their talents, personal passions and artistic ability. And as the giver, you get the opportunity for connection – a chance to say “I see you,” and to create an individualized treat you know they’ll appreciate.

Of course, items that are made in the kitchen are always a big hit. And shopping for kitchen gifts is really easy, too – the grocery store pretty much covers everything you’ll need.

The 9 ideas on our list can be made in just a few hours or even less, all mostly from the comfort of your own kitchen. They’re economical, attractive, fun to make, and can easily be personalized with your own creative flair.

Double up on some of the recipes and ideas below, and you can cross a whole bunch of names off your list in one fell swoop.

1. Cranberry Chutney

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of cranberries.

This gorgeous berry-red chutney is little bit tart with a touch of heat, slightly savory and a little bit sweet.

Cranberry Chutney Recipe | Foodal.com

It’s not the same as cranberry sauce, but goes very well with leftover turkey or ham on a sliced baguette, and it also serves up well with a sharp cheese.

For the best results, make this chutney a few days ahead of time to let the flavors meld before serving.

Cranberry Chutney Recipe | Foodal.com
Cranberry Chutney
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Servings Prep Time
6 pints + 25 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 pints + 25 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Cranberry Chutney Recipe | Foodal.com
Cranberry Chutney
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Servings Prep Time
6 pints + 25 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 pints + 25 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 medium red onion chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 bag of fresh or frozen cranberries 12 ounces
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
  • 1 medium apple peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Servings: pints +
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Instructions
  1. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 1 teaspoon of butter and sauté the onions until lightly caramelized, 15 – 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes or so and when ready, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. While the onions caramelize, in a medium saucepan combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the cranberries, jalapeno, apple, raisins, cider vinegar, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring often.
  4. Add the onions, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, and let cool 5 minutes.
  6. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and wipe the rims and threads clean with a damp cloth. Add the seals and lids and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes

See this article for more information on hot water bath canning.

Cranberry Chutney Recipe | Foodal.com

 

2. Hot Pepper Jelly

This piquant jelly is a delightful ruby red color that’s perfect for the holidays. It’s a great hostess gift, and the sweet heat pairs wonderfully with crackers or baguettes and a soft cheese like Brie or Camembert.

Hot Pepper Jelly | Foodal.com

Make the jelly in advance and wait to serve it for at least one day to allow the flavors to blend and develop fully.

Hot Pepper Jelly Recipe | Foodal.com
Hot Pepper Jelly
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Servings Prep Time
6 1/2 pint jars 30 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 1/2 pint jars 30 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Hot Pepper Jelly Recipe | Foodal.com
Hot Pepper Jelly
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Servings Prep Time
6 1/2 pint jars 30 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 1/2 pint jars 30 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 red bell peppers seeded and chopped coarsely
  • 2 teaspoons red chili pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons no-sugar-needed pectin
  • 3 1/4 cups granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 1/2 pint jars with lids and seals
Servings: 1/2 pint jars
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, pulse bell peppers and chili flakes until finely chopped.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together pectin and 1/4 cup sugar.
  3. In a large pot, combine the pepper mixture, vinegar, butter, salt, the remaining sugar and bring to a vigorous boil over high heat. Continue with a full boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Slowly add the pectin mix, whisking constantly. Return the jelly to a vigorous boil for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and wipe the rims and threads clean with a damp cloth. Add the seals and lids and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Don't have a food processor? If not, a blender will work in a pinch or you can check out our food processor buying guide to pick out a model. They are indispensable in the kitchen.

Hot Pepper Jelly Recipe | Foodal.com

 

3. Mulled Wine

Nothing says “Christmas cheer” quite like a fragrant glass of mulled wine. Resplendent with holiday spices, this heady concoction will warm the heart of even the humbuggiest of Scrooges.

Let everything warm up low and slow for the spice and citrus flavors to mingle with the wine. Keep a pot on a low simmer, then ladle into glasses when guests arrive.

Oblique shot of two glass mugs of mulled wine, on a red fabric surface with pine cones, citrus fruits, and whole cinnamon sticks.
Photo by Meghan Yager.

Mulled Wine Spice Kits – Get the Recipe Now

Pack the spices and dry ingredients into a clear jar, tie the fruit in some burlap, then pack everything into a basket along with the wine bottles.

Tie it all together with a bright ribbon and write up a tag with directions for mulling. Cheers!

4. Hot Chocolate in a Jar

For those who prefer a non-alcoholic drink, a jar of hot chocolate mix is a nice option.

Layer the ingredients in a jar, topping it with homemade marshmallows. Add a seasonal ribbon and you have a simple and handsome gift.

A glass jar filled with layered homemade hot chocolate mix and topped with a bow is in the foreground, with a holiday mug and decorative Christmas baubles in the background and scattered to either side on a dark brown wood table.
Photo by Meghan Yager.

Hot Chocolate in a Jar – Get the Recipe Now
Add a tag with the following directions: “Stir to thoroughly mix contents of the jar. For individual servings, add 1/3 cup hot chocolate mix to a mug and stir in 1 cup boiling water.”

Baking mixes serve equally well as jar-based gifts. 

5. Orange & Clove Pomanders

Not all gifts from the kitchen have to be edible! The gift of fragrance has an old-timey charm that’s still welcome today.

Homemade Orange & Clove Pomander | Foodal.com

Pomanders were an early form of aromatherapy, originally worn on the body or carried in a case to protect against infection from pestilence and plague, or simply to mask unpleasant odors.

Today, they take a variety of forms from sachets of fragrant herbs and floral-blended potpourri to spice-infused aromatic fruit.

How to make an Orange & Clove Pomander | Foodal.com

A popular contemporary style comes in the form of citrus fruit studded with whole cloves and infused with a blend of warming wintry spices. Carve a niche in the top for a tea light and your home will be filled with the sweet scents of citrus and spice – a natural during the holidays.

Make Your Own Orange & Clove Pomander | Foodal.com

For gift giving, nestle the saucer and pomander in tissue paper in a small, open gift bag – with the candle unlit, of course!

Ingredients

  • 1 small to medium-sized fruit (orange, apple, lemon or lime)
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup large-headed whole cloves *
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves **

Tools

  • A stiletto for poking holes – i.e. a slender knitting needle, bamboo skewer, an awl, toothpicks…
  • A fine-tipped permanent marker or a hobby knife for marking your design
  • A florist’s frog to stabilize the pomander
  • A sharp paring knife
  • A flat candleholder or saucer ***
  • Tea lights

Directions

1. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. Set aside.

Orange & Clove Pomander Step 1

2. Using the base of a tea light as a guide, lightly mark a circle on the top of your fruit with the marker or a hobby knife.

Orange & Clove Pomander Step 2 | Foodal.com

3. Starting at the top, lightly mark any lines or patterns on the fruit to create your design. You can use the hobby knife to just scratch the surface, or use a marker. If you make a mistake with the marker, wipe the surface clean with rubbing alcohol and a tissue.

4. Using your stiletto of choice, poke holes in the fruit along the lines of your design – take care not to make the holes bigger than the stems of the cloves.

Orange & Clove Pomander Step 4 | Foodal.com

5. Using a sharp paring knife, make a shallow, diagonal cut into the center for the tea light, using the outline that you have marked to guide the knife. Gently work out the plug of fruit and discard.

Orange & Clove Pomander Step 5 | Foodal.com

6. Using your stiletto of choice, poke holes along your pattern lines from the top to the bottom, inserting the whole cloves as you go. Leave only a scant 1/4” between cloves.

7. Continue until the fruit is covered. If you’ve used a marker to create your lines, wipe the ink off at this time with rubbing alcohol.

Orange & Clove Pomander Step 6 | Foodal.com

8. Firmly insert the florist’s frog into the base of your fruit and place on a shallow candleholder or saucer.

Orange & Clove Pomander Step 9 | Foodal.com

9. Just before lighting the candle, sprinkle a small amount of the spice mix onto the open flesh where the tea light will sit – as the candle warms up, the fragrance of the spices and fruit will be released with the heat.

Notes

* The amount of cloves you’ll need will depend on how densely you pack the fruit, and your chosen design. Look for whole cloves in the bulk section of your grocery store for a better bargain.

** If presenting as a gift, you’ll need a small container or crafter’s bead bags to hold the mixed spices. Write up a tag with the instructions, “Sprinkle a small amount into the candle niche before lighting.”

*** If you plan to make several pomanders, a trip to your local thrift shop will usually provide a good selection of inexpensive saucers to choose from.

6. Spicy Toasted Nuts

Nuts are another favorite during the holidays. They can be served in the shell if you’re armed with a good nutcracker set, pre-shelled and served raw, roasted with a sweet glaze, or toasted with warming spices.

Bowls of spiced nuts and seeds are a tasty snack to serve when company arrives, and they make a healthy gift.

Reciep for Spicy Toasted Nuts | Foodal.com

Loaded with nutrition and a variety of health benefits, adding sugar to seeds and nuts will negate a lot of those important benefits. Instead, roast nuts and seeds with a variety of spices to enhance their flavor, and their nutritional properties.

Spiced nuts also freeze very well, so you can prepare a large batch ahead of time and pull out portions as needed.

Package in small clear jars or confection bags decorated with a seasonal ribbon for a nutritious and healthy gift.

Spicy Toasted Nuts Recipe | Foodal.com
Spicy Toasted Nuts
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Servings
2 cups
Spicy Toasted Nuts Recipe | Foodal.com
Spicy Toasted Nuts
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Servings
2 cups
Servings
2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw unsalted nuts - almonds, pecans, hazelnuts…
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco or hot pepper sauce
Servings: cups
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a heavy, dry skillet toast the nuts over medium heat. Stir constantly until fragrant, 3 – 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, garlic, cayenne pepper and sea salt.
  3. Heat the skillet to medium high then add the oil. When the oil is hot, add in the spices and stir to heat through, 30 – 45 seconds. Add in the almonds and stir well to coat thoroughly. Add in the Tabasco, stirring well until the nuts are warm and the spices distributed evenly.
  4. Remove from the pan and spread out on a plate to cool.
  5. Package or serve when cool.
Recipe Notes

Spicy Toasted Nuts Recipe | Foodal.com

 

7. Fresh Herbs in a Basket

The gift of fresh herbs is welcome at any time of year. If you grow your own, take cuttings in the spring and replant them in small terra cotta pots.

If you don’t, head out to your local garden center or find a greenhouse that sells to the public.

Write up a tag with directions for growing, or include a few favorite recipes that use your herb of choice.

Fresh Herbs in a Basket | Foodal.com

Select a suitable basket (thrift stores are great for sourcing a good selection of inexpensive baskets), place a saucer on the bottom, nestle the potted herbs inside with tissue paper and adorn the basket with seasonal ribbons or a bow.

Simple, attractive and fragrant, herbs make a gift that will be appreciated by cooks and gardeners alike.

Select perennial, evergreen herbs such as rosemary, thyme, winter savory, bay laurel, lavender or sage to ensure that your gift will keep giving for years to come.

8. Homemade Preserves

Particularly appropriate for those in your life who enjoy home cooking, but who don’t cook themselves.

Homemade Preserves | Foodal.com

Jars of homemade pickles and preserves, antipasto, your own signature mustard, jams and jellies, or a jar of your favorite grilling spices are all appropriate for gifting.

Raid your pantry to see what you have on hand, cover the lid with scraps of wrapping paper, then tie it up with some ribbon.

Load jars into a decorated basket or box with a selection of crackers, cheese, or a bottle of wine for a simple, tasty and easy gift.

9. Chili Pepper Chocolate Bark

Chocolate bark is a crowd-pleasing favorite. This recipe has no additional sweeteners, with the chili adding a lovely touch of heat to the dark chocolate.

Chili Pepper Chocolate Bark | Foodal.com

It’s also very versatile – add slivered nuts, citrus peel, dried cranberries or cherries to suit your tastes and create a personalized gift. For an extra splash of seasonal color, top with pomegranate seeds before chilling.

Pack into a wide-mouthed decorative jar, or a gift box with a pouch of full-bodied coffee.

If you’re a big chocolate fan, make a double batch… otherwise, it may not last long enough to be given as a gift!

Equipment needed:

Chili Pepper Chocolate Bark Recipe | Foodal.com
Chili Pepper Chocolate Bark
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Chili Pepper Chocolate Bark Recipe | Foodal.com
Chili Pepper Chocolate Bark
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Ingredients
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate at least 45% cacao
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons dried cherries minced
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. Line a rectangular baking pan, approximately 11 x 7”, with waxed paper.
  2. In a double boiler, mix all ingredients until melted and smooth.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan, spreading evenly with spatula.
  4. Sprinkle with dried cherries, then chill in the fridge for 2 – 3 hours, or until set.
  5. When set, break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
Recipe Notes

Chili Pepper Chocolate Bark Recipe | Foodal.com

 

10. (Bonus) The Gift of Health

As a bonus idea, it’s hard to beat the gift of health. If someone on your list is trying to improve their overall health and fitness levels or lose some weight, avoid tossing temptation their way in the form of high-calorie, sweetened goodies.

Instead, show your support with healthy ideas and food choices from your kitchen. There’s any number of ways to tailor edible gifts to suit particular eating plans. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices started:

  • Write up your favorite nutritious low-fat/gluten-free/vegan/etc. recipes on index cards and put in a small ornate box suitable for keeping on the countertop. If they’re in sight, they might get used…

The Gift of Health for the Holidays | Foodal.com

  • Share some motivation with a hand-crafted promissory note. In it, offer to be a buddy for a monthly healthy meal swap, a weekly swim, a daily walk, or any shared activity – it’s easier to keep a new fitness schedule with a partner, and you’ll get some exercise too.

And that concludes our look at 9 gift ideas from the creative foodie’s kitchen – hopefully, it’s stirred up your own creative process.

And if you do have some ideas of your own, please share them in the comments below for all the readers to enjoy.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to all!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. Last updated: November 27, 2018 at 19:20 pm.

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About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

32 thoughts on “9 Creative and Inexpensive Gift Ideas That You Can Make in the Kitchen”

  1. I love these ideas! I usually make baked goods but I feel everyone does the same around the holidays. Jelly is such a good idea to give as gifts to friends or other people you don’t use spend a lot on. You can easily get cute jars and ribbons at a local target to make it look very festive. This kind of reminds me of making homemade body scrubs to give as gifts too.

    • Baked goods are wonderful of course, but it is nice to do something a little different… and body scrubs are another great gift, with most ingredients coming from the kitchen. Thanks for your comments KM!

  2. The hot chocolate idea is a good one, as it’s easy to make and also looks nice. You can do a duo for a couple and they can keep the mugs afterwards. I personally like to make cookies and truffles, and you can put them in small cookie jars which can be saved. They are inexpensive and people always need an extra jar to store cookies in.

    • Good idea with the mugs Bella, have stored that one for future reference. And truffles and cookie jars are always welcome! Thanks for sharing!

  3. As a person with a sweet tooth, I especially love the idea of hot chocolate in a jar! This is so adorable and thoughtful.
    I would love to get it. It would make me think of the gift giver when drinking the delicious drink.
    I also want to give the spicy nuts a go, they look as a really healthy snack – just the kind that I need!

    • That’s what’s so great about homemade gifts. When you use it, you spend a moment thinking of the person who gave it, and that seems to make it seem a bit special…. enjoy the nuts EP!

  4. The picture you had of the wine was absolutely gorgeous, but I was a bit disappointed since I, and most of the people I know, do not drink a lot of alcohol. As if you predicted my response, the Hot Chocolate brought me a lot of excitement. I’ll admit that I have not made a lot of hot chocolate from scratch, but I was a bit surprised to see that sea salt was an ingredient. If a person was to use normal salt, would there be a different measurement or would you recommend strictly sticking with sea salt?

    • Glad you find the hot chocolate appealing aliangel3499, and using regular table salt would be just fine. Sea salt is simiply my personal preference. Enjoy your cocoa!

  5. There are so many great ideas here for DIY gift ideas. I especially like the Hot Pepper Jelly. I know a few friends and family members that would go absolutely bonkers for this. They would probably add it to everything from toast in the morning and even chicken….hmmm not a bad idea 😉 I may try this myself.

    I love creating things for people instead of just going out and purchasing an item from these department stores. This year I was thinking of baking a variety of tasty cookies and truffles as a hostess gift. There is nothing like a Christmas tin of delicious chocolate covered truffles and yummy shortbread cookies. After reading this, I am thinking of also adding the Hot Pepper Jelly and Hot Chocolate in a Jar.

    • The Hot Pepper Jelly is a treat Lupa06, and is always welcomed by those who enjoy a bit of heat.

      One of the things that’s so attractive about homemade gifts is they’re so much fun to make – in my books, infinitely more pleasurable than a trip to the mall. Enjoy your gift crafting, they sound wonderful!

  6. I really appreciate this list. I gave some prepackaged cookie mix in a jar last year and I never really got any feedback from the people I gave them to. So I figured they just ate the chocolate chip and threw everything else. The spicy toasted nuts idea is something I might try this year. A gift that is both delicious and healthful is something that I know my co-workers would appreciate.

    • Knowing what others will appreciate is the hard part miguel_francis… tasty and healthy is hard to beat! Glad you enjoyed the list.

  7. This is just perfect! I’d love to make (any of) these as a gift for my family and friends -especially since I can’t decide what to give them on Christmas/New Year’s whenever I’m at the mall or anywhere else.

    I’ll share this to my friends and hope someone gifts me the candle one :P. I really really really love the scents given away by citrus and spices. 🙂

    • Citrus and spice is so Yuletide! The Orange & Clove Pomander is one of my favs too… Glad you enjoyed the post toradad5598, and I hope one (or more) of your friends gift you the candle!

  8. Tasty, healthy, easy to make and for every budget. I personally think that alcohol is a gift that almost no one turns down and when you add a personal touch it gives it a better value and appreciation (“how thoughtful of you!”).

  9. That hot cocoa in a jar is adorable. It would be a great thing for a secret Santa or even white elephant type event. The Chocolate bark also looks promising. I would layer dark and milk chocolate to create more of a “bark” look, All of these look like quick and easy little handmade gifts, and I’m sure anyone who received them would be thrilled, I know I would be.

  10. These are all great ideas for gifts for family and friends. They all look so festive and cute! These would be great gifts and also help those on a budget save a little money. I am definitely going to try and make the cranberry chutney. The mulled wine sounds delicious. I have never heard of it before, but would be an excellent gift to bring for a dinner party.

  11. Dear Lorna,
    To add to your amazing ideas and to really add that finished polish to home made gifts, there are some amazing free printable jar/bottle/lid labels online. I really encourage people to support the creatives out there, often a “free printable leads you to discover new artists and find some amazing etsy stores.
    Happy Holidays!

    • Great idea Mrs E – I just Googled ‘free printable labels’ and there seems to be a very good selection – and a nice way to support artists! Thanks for the tip!

  12. This list is so great for me, because I have a dad who totally despises “stuff.” He and his wife are adamant at the holidays that they only want something they can consume… they don’t want clothes (although the ol’ dad could definitely use new pajamas) or pretty scarves or anything. So every year I’m wandering around whole foods just trying to figure out what I can get them. In the past, I haven’t been very confident in my kitchen abilities, but have been honing them over time… so maybe this time I’ll make them some of that hot pepper jelly! I also love the herb idea- my step mom is huge into gardening so it might be just the thing. Thanks so much for the great post!

    • Homemade gifts are great for those ‘purists’ in our lives! Hope your step-mom enjoys the herbs – and let us know how the jelly turns out.

  13. I LOVE anything chocolate! Thus, you got me at No. 4: Hot Chocolate in Jar. This is definitely a winner for me. I can think of a few people in my family who would appreciate greatly if they were to be gifted with this. But as for me, I sometimes get lazy preparing things. Thus, with this ready-mix ingredients for a hot chocolate, without a doubt I’ll be more welcoming to the cold mornings of the holiday season as it gives me a reason to whip up a nice chocolate drink.

  14. I read this article not long ago and have already tried the hot pepper jelly. It was fantastic. Everyone else should at least try one out. You never know. Maybe you might do better than me.

  15. Lovely ideas. I have made cookies and such for the holidays but I honestly have never thought of doing gifts for anybody in this manner. I’ll keep this in mind for next Christmas to be sure! Sure beats giving somebody a package of tube socks and it is more personal than a gift card. Although a gift card included in the presentation may be a nice thing for some people if that’s what you feel best doing.

    • Lol! Definately better than tube socks nytegeek! They are a nice change from the usual Christmas baking, and do add personal touch – although I always enjoy a gift card too! Have fun with the ideas next year…

  16. These are some good ideas. I really like that they are unique. So many times, you see the same old stuff suggested, but these are really nice. They sound tasty and they make for a nice presentation as well.

    I can already think of a couple of people who would enjoy some of these. One of my in laws would really like the second one on the list. I might have to keep the citrus scent things for myself though. I love the aroma.

    • Thanks Zyni, glad you found some fresh ideas here, the pepper jelly you mentioned is always popular with those who enjoy a bit of heat! And enjoy the citrus pomanders – if you like a citrus scent, you’ll love these!

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