By Beth Lipton
The holiday season means you’re likely going to 17 parties/dinners/tree trimmings and possibly crashing at a friend or relative’s house, so when your host greets you at the door, you want to hand him or her something merry and bright. In other words, back away from bringing the stinky candles and store-bought cookie tins, people.
Instead of regular, run-of-the-mill items that are quickly forgotten, trashed or—gasp!—regifted, make something homemade your host will love. Read on for ideas for thoughtful, crowd-pleasing gifts that won’t cost you a fortune or take hours to make—a win-win.
There is no comparison between homemade granola and even the best-packaged stuff, especially as you can customize it to your host’s taste by swapping different dried fruits, using seeds instead of nuts, and switching up the spices. We love this straightforward, easy-to-follow Crunchy Coco-nut Granola recipe or you can try this one from Cookie and Kate for its tons of tips and suggestions (including how to make it gluten- and/or nut-free). Scoop the granola into a large Mason or Ball jar and wrap with a festive ribbon.
Superfood Dark-Chocolate Bark
Though we secretly love the sampler boxes of filled chocolates, the resulting sugar crash is never fun. Instead, dazzle your host with homemade dark-chocolate bark studded with delicious superfoods to fuel him or her through the season. The Hippie Chocolate Bark from Taste Love and Nourish is loaded with pecans, pistachios and almonds, as well as chia, flax and pumpkin seeds, dried fruit and a hit of sea salt, all atop antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. To give as a present, place in a tissue-paper stuffed gift box.
Peanut butter? Puh-leeze. Give your host a luscious homemade spread made from brain- and mood-boosting, disease-fighting walnuts. Vegan Family Recipes offers three versions of walnut butter, including maple; there’s a chocolate option, too, but we digress. Give a jar of the spread, and pick up (or make) a loaf of banana bread to go with it.
This trendy coffee is suddenly everywhere, but buying the premade stuff can be expensive. Give your host a jug of homemade brew so he or she can get a caffeine fix the easy way (bonus: coffee lowers the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and stroke). Chowhound offers simple brewing instructions that don’t require any fancy equipment, and Perfect Daily Grind suggests adding cinnamon for a holiday touch—it also makes the brew even healthier.
Multigrain Pancake Mix
Give the gift of an easy-breezy weekend breakfast with nary an artificial ingredient. For healthy winter mornings, we love this recipe for Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes packaged in a pretty jar. Be sure to include recipe instructions and a 1-cup-sized scoop. Staying over? Whip up a batch before your host wakes up. If you greet your host with maple syrup-drizzled pancakes and a cup of cold-brew coffee, you’ll be asked back again and again.