Make-Ahead Munchies: Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

Can you believe that Christmas is only six weeks away? I always think that November seems too early to start preparing for the holidays but before I know it, I am busy with cocktail parties and cookie exchanges and I’m spending every free moment at the mall looking for the perfect gift for everyone on my list.

(Photo: Delicious Magazine)

This year I am going to try something new. I am focusing on homemade gifts that are not only perfect for these challenging economic times but can also be made before my schedule gets too hectic and I find myself picking up a box of store-bought chocolates to use as a last-minute hostess gift.

(Photo: Casa Di Nù)

If you want to spread some holiday cheer, mix up a couple of batches of Casa Di Nù’s berry Natalizia liqueur.  The recipe is simple, with only four ingredients, but it does take a couple of weeks for the flavors to meld. The original recipe calls for mixed berries but I think it would be delicious with some slightly crushed fresh cranberries, a few orange peels, and a cinnamon stick.

(Photo: Fit Sugar)

Just make sure to include a few recipes like Clarence’s hot cranberry toddy or cranberry-vodka punch, swapping out the base alcohol for your own, so that the recipient can enjoy your gift to its full potential.

(Photo: ChezSuzanne via Food 52)

If you are like me, you found an orange in the bottom of your Christamas stocking every year. ChezSuzanne’s caramelized orange peel with cinnamon, cloves, and brandy provides a spicy twist to the holiday citrus tradition. This recipe makes a lot, so you will always have something to give your neighbours when they drop by with an unexpected gift.

(Photo: Unfussy Fare)

If you want a slightly more exotic take on citrus flavours, you can make sunny preserved lemons. The actual preparation time is quite short, though the jars do need to be turned over once a day for a week and the peels get softer the longer they cure, so this would be a perfect November project. Preserved lemons a North African staple, are pretty rare on this side of the Atlantic so you might want to include a recipe for a tagine (though they also brighten regular chicken, fish, and vegetable dishes).

(Photo: David Lebovitz)

Everyone seems to dread the homemade fruitcake but David Lebovitz will change your mind with this delicious chocolate cherry version. It can be made now and frozen, without the alcohol, so that it can be enjoyed closer to the holidays without messing up your kitchen. And even better, it makes two loaves so you can give your gift and eat it too!

(Photo: The Naptime Chef via The Kitchn)

Children and adults alike will appreciate a jar of peppermint hot fudge, which can add a festive touch to ice cream, pound cake, or cheesecake. Kept in the fridge, it will keep for two weeks or more but I bet it won’t last that long!

(Photo: Martha Stewart)

Don’t forget to make your gifts look as special as they taste. Use uniquely-shaped bottles and jars (making sure to sterilize them first) and top the lids with some festive fabric and a big bow. Wrap up baked goods in boxes with seasonal papers and top with a candy cane or some holly.

(Photo: Crafty Pagan via Etsy)

And don’t forget to label your creations (you can buy holiday tags or print out your own) and include the ingredients and serving suggestions on the back. Or you could include a holiday recipe card and hope that next year your friends will skip the store-bought chocolates and send you these delicious homemade treats instead.

(Photo: Petersen Designs via Etsy)

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