Getting gifts is great. Getting gifts you can eat is even better. But the most amazing gifts are the ones that are handmade. If it’s “thought that counts,” nothing says thoughtful more than knowing someone took the time and made the effort to create a special gift just for you. Handmade gifts are unique. You don’t have to worry that someone will receive the same present from anyone else. Handmade food gifts let you customize the package and then present it in an extra-special, personal and creative way. If you have ever seen specialized food gifts in stores and been impressed by them, just think how amazed your friends and loved one will be receiving one from you and knowing you made it just for them! Don’t be intimidated; it’s easier than you think. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, a birthday or just because, here are some ideas for handmade food-related gifts everyone will love.
1. The Cookbook Package
If you know someone who collects cookbooks, it makes sense that they would love a copy of the new vegan comfort food cookbook. To ensure that the new cookbook doesn’t just end up on the shelf, take the gift one step further. Choose a recipe from the book and mark the page by inserting a gift card that says something like, “Can’t wait to share this meal with you!” Along with the book, give your friend the major ingredients in that recipe. For instance, if it’s a seitan recipe, include a box of vital wheat gluten, a bottle of tamari and a few of the spices. If it’s a dessert recipe such as cookies or cake, include a jar filled with all the dry ingredients called for in the recipe. Not only will that cookbook not become a dust collector but you may soon find yourself sharing a delicious homemade meal with your friend.
2. Spice/Spice Blend Kits
It’s no secret that I love spices. Stocking my spice cabinet is not only fun but essential to making flavorful dishes. It’s also true that spices can be pricey and it may be difficult to buy every single spice one might want to try or all the spices necessary for a particular spice blend or ethnic flavor profile. If you have a friend who loves spices as much as I do, present her with the gift of flavor in the form of a spice or spice blend kit. Choose an ethnic cooking style and get 5 or 6 spices common to that cuisine. For example, if your friend loves Indian food, give him bottles of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, curry powder and fenugreek. Read How to Add Ethnic Flavors to Dishes to learn which spices are common in different cuisines.
Spice blends can also be expensive though they make cooking easier by combining all the different spices for you. You can create your own spice blends to give as gifts. Does your friend love tofu scrambles? Make a basic tofu scramble spice blend by mixing turmeric, black salt, black pepper, dried thyme, paprika, garlic power, onion powder and any other spices you like to put in your scramble. Does your cousin get excited about baking once pumpkin season starts? Then a bottle of homemade pumpkin pie spice is a perfect gift. Read How to Make Your Own Spice Blends for instructions and recipes. Use a funnel to fill narrow-mouthed glass jars, add a label, a decorative ribbon and a gift tag. Include a recipe written on an index card for an added touch.
3. Pasta Lovers Kit
Everyone knows someone who loves pasta. Create a gift package that helps them make the ultimate pasta meal. Start with a colander and line it with a red and white checkered tablecloth. Fill the colander with everything needed to make a delicious pasta dish: a box or bag of dried pasta, a bottle of olive oil, a head of garlic, small bottles of red pepper flakes and dried oregano and a bottle of vegan white wine. Include a recipe for an amazing pasta dish like this Pasta with Vegan Bolognese Sauce. Mangia!
4. Grill Master Gift
If you know someone who loves grilling, make them a special grill master gift. Fill a basket with a few bottles of homemade barbecue sauces, marinades and spice rubs. Add a few grilling utensils such as tongs, a basting brush, kabob skewers or a spatula and maybe a “Kiss the Vegan Cook” apron. Don’t forget to include a recipe or two for BBQ Seitan Ribs or Portobello Mushroom Burgers. Check out 10 Ways to Make Awesome BBQ Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades for recipes and ideas.
5. Soup Lovers Basket
Warm someone’s body as well as their heart when you give them everything they need to make a delicious pot of soup. Fill a jar with layers of the dry ingredients needed for any particular soup recipe. For example, a four bean and barley soup mix would include 1/3 cup dried kidney beans, 1/3 cup dried black beans, 1/3 cup dried cannellini beans, 1/3 cup dried pinto beans, ½ cup pearl barley, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. dried oregano, and 2 bay leaves. You can also add dried chile peppers. A lentil soup could include layers of different color lentils for a beautiful presentation. It may be better to not include salt so the recipient can add their own. Along with the jar, add a couple of soup bowls or mugs, a ladle and of course, the recipe for the soup. See 10 Ways to Make Soup with Global Flavors for exotic and flavorful recipe ideas.
6. Tea for Two
Tea lovers will be steeped in happiness when they open a present filled with all sorts of tea goodness. Fill tea filters with different tea leaves or tea blends. Tie them with string or with stringed tea bags. Put the filled bags in a couple of tea cups or a pretty tea pot. Add extra goodies such as cinnamon sticks, a tea infuser, and a tea towel. Place it all on a pretty wicker tray for a lovely presentation. For tea blend ideas, see 5 Herbal Teas that Benefit the Body and Spirit. You can make similar gifts for the coffee or cocoa lovers on your gift list.
7. Specialty Oils and Salts
If you go into a specialty gourmet shop, you can spend a fortune on products such as herb-infused oils and flavored salts. The good news is that it’s simple to make these very impressive items yourself for a lot less money. Read How to Infuse Your Own Olive Oil with Herbs and Spices for the simple instructions and then make olive oils flavored with lemon, chili flakes, rosemary and my favorite, garlic. Make the infused oils in pretty bottles and tie ribbons and dried herbs, peppers or garlic onto their necks for gift-giving.
To make your own specialty salts, all you have to do is choose a salt and then choose a flavor. You can use any coarse salt such as kosher salt, sea salt, fleur de sel, or Pink Himalayan salt. Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, mix in 1 tsp. of flavoring for every ¼ cup of salt. Make a sweet and spicy salt by mixing orange or lime zest and dry chipotle peppers or lime zest into pink Himalayan salt. Mix Matcha green tea powder into sea salt for a colorful finishing salt. You can add herbs, garlic, onions, peppercorns or whatever flavors make you happy. Store the flavored salt into an airtight container and let it sit for 24 hours before using. Present the salts in pretty labeled jars tied with ribbon for an impressive gift.
8. Breakfast in Bed
Let’s be honest, sometimes we all need to be reminded that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make it easier for your loved ones to start their day right with handmade breakfast gifts anyone would love. Fill a pretty jar with a blend of your favorite whole grain breakfast hot cereal mix. It could include rolled oats, barley flakes, quinoa and flax seeds. Add chopped nuts, dried fruit and a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired. Get ideas with these 10 Healthy and Flavor-Packed Oatmeal Bowl recipes. You can use the same idea for granola. For tips, read DIY Granola – Easy and Healthy! Maybe your friends prefer pancakes or waffles for breakfast. No problem, just fill a jar with all the dry ingredients in a delicious pancake or waffle recipe. Take a look at 15 Vegan Pancakes to Flip Out Over! and 10 Vegan Waffle Recipes That Left Us Awestruck for recipes. Don’t forget to include a copy of the recipe with the ingredient jar. For added touches, add a jar of maple syrup or some homemade vegan butter.
9. Gourmet Popcorn and Snack Tins
Every holiday season we see these in the stores – big decorative tins filled with flavored popcorn and snacks. They may sound good and they may look good but who knows what ingredients are in them? Why give the gift of chemicals, additives and corn syrup when you make your own gourmet popcorn at home and give the gift of healthy munching. All you have to do is fill pretty jars, decorative tins or even paper bags with sweet, decadent snacks. Try Curry Coconut Popcorn, Bourbon Caramel Popcorn, or this Peanut Butter Popcorn Fudge. Besides popcorn, you can also gift healthy veggie chips, Cinnamon Vanilla Apple Chips, trail mix, and dehydrated fruit. Add a big bow and the recipes so your friends can keep enjoying tasty, healthy snacks all year long.
10. Bark and Bite
The chocolate lovers on your list will be forever grateful when you give them the gift of homemade chocolate goodies. Bark is a popular holiday treat and is easy to make – just melt chocolate and add toppings like toasted nuts, candied ginger or dried fruit. You can get as creative as you like or try this Blueberry-Almond Dark Chocolate Bark and this Cacao Cashew Bark. Instead of candy canes, give the gift of these White Chocolate Candy Cane Cups. Get on the sweet side of candy lovers when you give them a box of Raw Snickers Candy Bars, Raw Dark Chocolate Cherry Cream Cups, Hazelnut Chocolate Snowballs, Oreo Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls, and Swedish Vegan Chocolate Balls. Truffles always make lovely gifts. Make and give these Pistachio Chocolate Truffles, Raw Strawberry Crème Chocolate Truffles and Baileys White Chocolate Truffles. Arrange an assortment in a decorative box with a festive bow and you will end up on everyone’s nice list. Include the recipes if you want to share your secrets.
11. Vegan Cheese Plate
Who would have thought that a vegan gift idea list would ever include a cheese plate? Well, times have changed and today there are so many amazing vegan cheeses in a whole host of flavors, cheeses that not only taste good but cheeses that can melt or be sliced. Making your own vegan cheese has also never been easier. There are recipes galore such as Vegan Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute, Vegan Pepper Jack Cashew Cheese, Smoked Vegan Coconut Gouda, Smoky Pesto Cashew Cheez, Almond Feta and Vegan Cashew Dill Cheese. Arrange a few wheels of vegan cheese on a decorative tray or cheese plate, label the cheeses and add a cheese slicer or knife for a beautiful gift. If you would prefer to give just one type of cheese as a gift, this Kick Ace Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Cheddar Cheese Ball and Herb-and-Nut-Encrusted Cheese Log are perfect choices.
12. Santa Paws
Last but certainly not least, don’t forget the furbabies in your life. They are always deserving of gifts and lots of belly rubs. Whip up a batch of Homemade Peanut Butter Biscuits, Grain-Free Peanut Butter Dog Treats or dehydrated veggie treats for Fido. Read How to Make Homemade Dog Treats for Your Best Friend for instructions on how to make biscuits and icing that is safe for your dog. You can put the treats in a personalized jar or bag and throw in a squeaky toy for extra fun. Woof!
Handmade and homemade gifts are about so much more than just giving people more “stuff.” These DIY gift ideas are thoughtful, creative and fun. Express just how much you care about your friends and family by making them personalized, customized presents. Everyone can have their gifts and eat them too!
Need more ideas for the holidays? Check out 15 Entrées With Mushrooms as the Main Event for the Holidays and 25 Plant-Based Holiday Cookie Recipes That Will Fill Your Home With Cheer. We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: White Chocolate Candy Cane Cups