A Stress Free Christmas – Part 4: Homemade gifts

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 Get out of a jam and make pickle…

I’m sorry, I just can’t stop myself!  Welcome to Part 4 of my Guide to a Stress Free Christmas.  In Part 3, we were picking presents and this week, we’re pickling them! It’s good to plan homemade pickles and chutneys early because some will need a while to mellow into their flavours and there’s nothing worse than receiving a gift that you can’t use for months!

First things, first

Before you reach for your preserving pan, just look back at your notes from the last couple of weeks (for those who missed them, here are the links – Part 1: Budget, Part 2: Making Christmas lists & checking them twice, Part 3: Picking Presents).  Hopefully, you’ve got a rough idea of how many people you’re giving homemade gifts and who they are.  The first is important for obvious reasons – there’s no point in making 5 batches of chutney if you’re only giving it to Doris, next door!  The second is also handy to know because you can make a more informed decision on what to make if you know who it’s for.  No point in sending a jar of your finest chilli jam to Auntie Beryl if she doesn’t like spicy food.

Sweet Chilli Jam

Don’t hamper your progress (again, sorry..)

Ok, now we’re ready for the fun part.  We need to decide what to make.  The choices are limitless!  First of all, have a think about whether you will just be giving individual jars or bottles or whether you’d like to give people some people home made hampers or kits. Here are a few ideas:

Hampers

These are a great gift to make yourself.  They are sooo expensive to buy and although the initial set up can still be quite pricey if you buy all your bottles, jars and hampers new, there are ways to keep costs down if you save your old shoe boxes, bottles and jars, and look out for second hand hampers etc at local car boots and flea markets.  I was recently able to get hold of six wicker picnic baskets for around £30.  Each one would have been more expensive than that, individually, if I’d bought them new!

Types of hamper

Again, the options are vast.  Depending on your budget, you can go big and extravagant or small and bijou. Here are a few ideas to get you started, with some recipes I’ve found online, thrown in for good measure:

Cheese Lovers Hamper – a selection of cheeses, homemade chilli jam, homemade spiced apple cheese, homemade caramelised onion chutney, homemade biscuits and breadsticksa bottle of red wine or port, homemade fig & walnut slicea cheese knife and cheese board, 

Sweet Tooth’s Hamper – a selection of homemade cakes, sweets, cookies and puddings (obvs!)

Breakfast Hamper – a selection of homemade jams & marmalade, some honey, homemade stollen or panettone,  some homemade granola, a box of tea bags or some coffee, a couple of mugs

Boozy Hamper – homemade flavoured vodka, some mulled wine spices, homemade beer or cider, homemade limoncelloa bottle of fizz, a couple of glasses, a cocktail shaker, a homemade book or leaflet of cocktail recipes

A Mix Hamper – a collection of any of your homemade favourites 🙂

spiced apple butter

Kits

I think of kits as being a smaller, more specifically themed version of a hamper.  They show a bit more thought and effort than an individual jar or bottle of something but are less effort than a whole hamper’s worth of stuff!

Here are a few examples…

Afternoon Tea Kit: some homemade strawberry jam, some homemade scones & biscuits, a pack of tea, a bottle of fizz

Hangover Kit: Particularly handy at Christmas! A packet of paracetamol, some good quality coffee, homemade chilli vodkatomato juice, tobasco & Worcester sauce (ie. ingredients for a Bloody Mary!)

Camembert Baking Kit:  A camembert, some homemade chutney, some prettily tied up thyme, some homemade breadsticks, a cheese knife

Cake Making Kit: A jar of dry ingredients along with written instructions

For more ideas and inspiration, I recommend Pinterest again – just type ‘homemade gifts’ into the search bar and see what comes up!

Ready, Steady, Pickle!

Once you’ve decided what you’re making and how much of it you need, then you need to check if any of it needs to sit for a month or 2 before eating.  These are the recipes that you need to be starting on this week so preserving pan out, radio on and have fun 🙂

I need recipes!

Never fear!  Over the coming installments, I’ll be scattering in a variety of ‘gifty’ type recipes, starting tomorrow with chilli jam.

Additional Resources

How to make a Christmas Hamper – by BBC Good Food

Homemade Present Ideas – by BBC Good Food

Homemade Food Gifts – by Martha Stewart

Homemade Christmas Food Gifts – by Country Living

Have your say

I would really love to hear from you.  Let me know what homemade gifts you’ve made or would like to try!

Take me to Part 5 – Christmas Party Invites

Catch up:

Part 1: Christmas Budget

Part 2: Making 3 lists & Checking them twice

Part 3: Picking Presents

 

Colette Broomhead

I am a 30 something mother of 2 little boys and I live with them and my husband in Nottingham. My passions are my family and friends, my kitchen, my cookery books and all things food and drink!

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