Today I’m giving you an easy guide to making homemade food gifts for the holidays. I have 3 rules, which I’ve outlined below. You don’t have to be a pro baker or craft enthusiast to do this. My friends were actually asking me in October what I’m planning to give this year. And last year I didn’t do anything more complicated than what I’m sharing with you today.
1. Select one or two recipes, but no more
Last year I was up all night packaging food gifts because it was my genius idea to tackle three recipes in 24 hours. Excuse the poor lighting, but this is what 1:00am looked like in my house that night:
I’m planning on choosing from this list of recipes for my gifts. The first two are very easy and the second two are a little more challenging, although I would never give Bake Like A Champ readers a recipe that’s too difficult. You’ll get rave reviews regardless of the recipe you choose, but the last two are real showstoppers.
This was part of my gift box last year (seen in the lower left corner of the picture above), and my friends are already asking for it again! If you know how to stir and you have 30 minutes, you can make this fudge.
I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I’ll be releasing my recipe here on Bake Like A Champ on December 15. I can’t wait to share it because it’s the most gourmet chocolate cookie, and it couldn’t be easier to put together. It also keeps for a few days, which is what you want to keep in mind with food gifts.
If you want something even more unique and you have a candy thermometer, try these! The link to the recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, and I’ve made them dozens of times. You could add a teaspoon of peppermint extract and red food coloring to make them special for the holidays (that’s what I did last year in the picture above). These are great for gifts because they keep for at least a week, although they’ve never lasted that long in my house.
If you’ve never had this before, it’s like a fluffy, crunchy, sweet candy usually covered in chocolate. It’s so much fun to make, but I have to admit it’s a little intimidating with the candy thermometer and all. Once I made it myself, I realized it wasn’t scary at all, in fact it was so much fun. It takes less than 30 minutes, and people are astonished that you actually made it yourself. I’ve shared Joy The Baker’s recipe above because that’s what I use every time.
Bake Like A Champ tip: Should you try one of the recipes that require a candy thermometer, here’s my favorite inexpensive one on Amazon. You can’t beat it for under $8.
2. Test the recipe in advance
Even though I’ve tested the recipes above, they might not be to your liking or you might encounter something in the recipe that you weren’t prepared for. Regardless, whenever you’re gifting a baked good, or hosting a dinner party for that matter, you should not be making the recipe for the first time. Test it out, even a half batch, prior to the day you’ll be making the gifts.
3. Buy cute packaging at a discount
I’ve said it before, but spending a few bucks (literally) goes so far when it comes to gifting baked goods. Go to Michael’s craft store. No, I’m not being paid by them. When you’re in the store, open their website on your phone. Click on “Coupons” at the bottom and have that window open when you check out. Tell the cashier you have mobile coupons, and make sure he/she scans all that are valid (a lot of times, I use at least two for one transaction). In total, I usually get between 20-50% off, and that’s on top of the sales that they have going on every day. Seriously, the place is crazy. I stopped buying stuff like this at Target and local paper stores a long time ago. I bet you can spend under $10 and have enough stuff to wrap all of your holiday treats. Remember that packaging is almost as important as the food itself, so I’ve given you some inspiration below. I like a rustic holiday look, but get whatever you like!
I know you’ll be posting pics of your gifts, so share with @bakelikeachamp and I’m sure I’ll be impressed! You probably won’t be able to decide what was better: how much fun you had putting this together, or seeing the smile on your friends’ faces when you deliver the treats. If you’re like me, it’s the latter.