When I was younger, and probably more into material things, I might have argued this point, but now I firmly stand behind it: There is nothing better than a homemade gift at the holidays.
Some of my best gifts in the last few years have been homemade. Not only are they often delicious, they also show that time and energy went into making them and that they come from the heart.
Let’s face it, we can all run to the chocolate store and hand deliver a lovely box of chocolates. And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn up my nose at that gift either. But when someone takes the time and energy to make you something special, it is a much more meaningful and heartfelt gift.
Some stick out in my head and include, but are not exclusive to, the following gifts:
My most crafty friend, Thea, once gave us a bottle of homemade Bailey’s liquor. It was perfect to add to hot chocolate, coffee or to simply savor for dessert.
My business partner, Cara, made homemade macarons one year. There were several flavors, including lemon and chocolate, but my favorite were the pink peppermint with chocolate filling. They were kind of like a candy cane but much, much better. I ate the whole bag in one sitting and had to call back and ask if she had any extras for my husband!
At a recent dinner party, Jackson Hole Foodie Annie Fenn brought over a bottle of beautiful hand-pressed olive oil. Not only was the gift unique, the bottle was pretty, and it was different, so the gift sticks out in my mind as special.
A neighbor every year since I joined the Pine Drive ‘hood, brings over a box of homemade goodies. In it, there are usually some cookies that I look forward to and greatly appreciate every year.
Last winter, another newer neighbor brought over a different box of cookies (I know, you want to live up here too now, right?) and I had one for breakfast every day for a week. They had crushed nuts and were just lightly sweet enough.
I have experimented with different homemade food gifts over the years. One year, a friend and I made marshmallows (good but messy) and hot chocolate on a stick. They were fun gifts to give, but making them took hours and hours (it sounded easy but wasn’t).
Another season I gifted homemade pickles. Now, my pickle collection is so popular, particularly to my husband, who can eat a jar in an hour, that I only use this gift on special occasions.
This year I tried something new and un-food related. I picked up a eucalyptus-scented shower bar at a spa one time, not knowing how much I would like it. You place it at the bottom of the shower and let it steam while you wash off. If you have any sort of sinus problem, or if you just like aromatherapy in general, it is an amazing treat.
Because this is a cooking column, I decided to give you a recipe instead for something else I have done that was a huge hit: homemade Nutella. This recipe is good for many reasons. One, everyone I know loves Nutella. Two, you can make it ahead. And three, it is different from many foodie gifts people often bring by, so it is unique.
I have only made this once, but it was fairly easy and turned out really well. If you make it, your friends will be remembering your homemade gift forever. Happy holidays!