Download free gift tags for these recipes (PDF 1.4 MB).
Every Christmas when I was growing up, one of my mother’s friends would send us a repurposed shoebox filled with different kinds of homemade baking and other sweet treats. The sentiment was wonderful, but the reality was that they never survived the rigours of NZ Post and usually arrived as a hodge-podge of frail crumbs and melted fillings.
Rule number one when it comes to homemade foodie gifts is to choose a really good recipe, be it a sweetmeat or a sauce or a cookie. But almost as important as the recipe is the packaging – homemade pressies need to sizzle with appetite appeal.
The packaging for your gifts doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, but it’s your chance to show that you’ve put some time and thought and a little of your own personality into the gift.
If you’re recycling jars or bottles, make sure you scrub the old labels off and cover the lids with a fancy cloth cap. If you’re wrapping in cellophane, tie it at the top with a pretty ribbon and add a name tag. Even a piece of brown paper can be decorated nicely to turn it into something special (see above). And if you’re using a box, individually wrap the contents and make sure it’s strong enough to arrive undented if you send it by post!
Sometimes I’ll include a hand-written copy of the recipe I used to make the gift. It’s also a nice touch to add some hints of how to store or use the gift, or a little story about the provenance of the recipe to give your efforts some context and connection.
I had great fun in the kitchen the other day, cooking up some of my favourite recipes to give as Christmas gifts. I wanted a variety of goodies to suit all tastes, so I made Chilli Jam and Lavender Syrup as well as more traditional gifts like Raspberry Jam, Gingerbread Cookies and Chocolate Truffles. And I loved the gift tags our talented designer Harriet made so much that I've decided to share them with you – click here to download a pdf.
Chilli Jam This is my all-time go-to favourite chilli sauce. With its complex flavour it’s so much better than commercial chilli sauces or jams. I use it on everything – it makes a great dip for crudité, rice paper rolls, spring rolls or dumplings. It’s just the trick to transform chicken wings, drumsticks or fish into a fabulous speedy meal with a little lemon or lime juice. And it makes a terrific dressing for noodles or a Thai Style Beef Salad.
Ten-Minute Raspberry Jam – Made in just over 10 minutes, this beautiful jewel-like jam is a taste of summer in a jar. It’s scrumptious served on toast, crumpets or scones, spread on the base of an Italian Jam Tart or heated and mixed with a little liqueur for a decadent sauce over ice cream. For a simple wolf-down trifle try thinning it with orange juice and drizzling it over layers of sponge with peaches, berries, custard and whipped cream.
Gingerbread Cookies – This classic Christmas treat is simple to make and so much fun to decorate, especially if you have kids in the kitchen. The mixture doubles easily and the biscuits stay fresh in a sealed container for weeks.
Lavender Syrup – Made in minutes, this syrup fills the kitchen with the beautiful, calming perfume of lavender. A splash brings out the flavours in a fruit salad, it’s heavenly poured over vanilla ice cream and it makes the most refreshing summer spritzer when mixed with sauvignon blanc and soda.
Chocolate Truffles – Who can resist these little balls of chocolatey indulgence? They’re the perfect Christmas treat, and so good to share around the table at the end of a meal. I used a potato stamp to decorate these paper cones – it’s as simple as cutting any shapes you like into a thick slice of potato, dunking it into ink or paint and then printing it onto your desired paper. I’d love to hear what edible gifts you’re giving this Christmas. Come on over to my Facebook page to share your ideas and photos.