By Jenni Wolf
As we find ourselves in the thick of the holiday season, gifting plus giving are sure to be top of mind.
No matter who you’re looking to cross off your shopping list, making something in the kitchen to share and spreading the holiday cheer is always a great idea—and my very favorite type of gift to give! Whatever experience you have in the kitchen, giving homemade treats, snacks or a meal is something everyone can do. Trust me!
Read on for some helpful tips to get started or to elevate your goodie-gifting game:
Build a basket. If you’re lacking time to fire up the oven, purchase a selection of your favorite food items and pair them together in a basket wrapped with a ribbon. I’m thinking everything you need for an at-home pizza night or a fancy cheeseboard dinner.
Visit local restaurants or boutiques for fun food items to include. Taking time to select the items yourself lends a thoughtful, personal touch and lets you share some of your own favorites.
Start semi-homemade. If you aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, buy items to which you can easily add your own touch. Buy pre-baked sugar cookies from the bakery and decorate them yourself. Buy a box of granola and package it in a festive bag with a strand of ribbon (more on packaging below).
Add holiday candies and a jar of honey roasted peanuts to a bag of purchased caramel corn.
Be choosy. If you choose to go the “from-scratch route,” pick items that are easy to make (especially if you have lots of gifts to give!), store or travel well and stay fresh for at least a few days. Soups, salsas and jams are good options on the cooking front.
Meanwhile, the baker in me loves to give cookie bars, homemade granola, caramels, spiced roasted nuts and truffles.
I recommend picking one or two versatile items to give everyone—you can always change up the flavors or packaging to switch things up!
Pack like a pro. Make sure your goods are fully cooled before packaging. Always make sure items are stored in airtight containers to keep them fresh.
If you’d like to get a jump start, baked goods can be made in advance and frozen for several months—just follow the rule of two. Package goods in two layers of packaging to protect against freezer burn. I like plastic wrap first, then foil or the container I plan to put them in. This is a good rule to follow, as well, if you plan to ship items, which means they may be in transit for a while.
Get crafty but keep it simple. Purchase a few basic and affordable supplies like cardstock, clear plastic cellophane bags or wrap, mason jars, aluminum baking pans or tins and a spool of twine or ribbon. These few items, plus a Sharpie pen for labeling, make packaging your goods easy, affordable and beautiful while keeping them fresh.
Package cookies or bars stacked in a clear bag, tied with twine and a handwritten label made from cardstock. Fill mason jars with homemade soup, label the top with a Sharpie and wrap a ribbon around the middle! Using disposable or basic reusable wares means you don’t have to worry about getting your dishes back in January!
Jenni Wolf lives in the Como neighborhood and is a practicing, registered dietitian who is passionate about helping others nourish a positive and balanced relationship with food.