photo courtesy of how sweet eats.
Okay you guys, I can’t help it – I’m making some gift guides. I wasn’t going to, but I have so many gift ideas that if I tried to make them for everyone I would go broke and insane, so I’m just going to leave them here to hopefully inspire you instead.
Today’s gift guide focuses on ideas for group gifts, which is one of my favorite concepts. What’s better than making a big old batch of something and dispensing it among your friends and loved ones like a benevolent, maybe a little sleep deprived Santa? Cookies are, of course, a great standby, but as much as I love cookies, they’re pretty time consuming, and you have to make a lot for it to be an actual gift. I do not consider a bag with two cookies in it a gift. That’s more like a cookie appetizer.
Anyway, it’s fun to mix it up, and with minimal effort and cost, you can make some pretty sick gifts. Let’s get down to it.
Popcorn – remember when your dad would come home from the office with that big tri tin of popcorn? I would about dive head first into that thing – but now I can just make my own and pig out on popcorn whenever I want. I think a little trio of homemade popcorns would be adorable, but any of these would shine on their own, too.
Caramel Corn, Cheesy Corn, and here’s something called Chicago Mix which I have never heard of, but I am definitely on board with. You could also try something a little more out there, like these peppermint crunch bites, or fluffernutter popcorn. There’s also Italian breadstick popcorn, sweet and spicy wasabi popcorn, or bacon popcorn. You could even just go totally lowbrow and add ranch powder, (and cheese powder too?!) and tell everyone it’s a special mix or something.
I mean, don’t do that. That’s lying. It’s still tasty, though.
Truffles – delicious, you can mix in literally anything and be heralded as a genius. Roll them in crushed oreos. Or sprinkles. Or nuts. Mix in rum. I feel like this idea is super obvious, but it’s a cliche for a reason. Here’s a good basic truffle recipe, or you could get fancy and make something different, like eggnog truffles, chocolate coconut truffles, peanut butter truffles (psych, those are buckeyes!), or these cabernet chocolate truffles. You may notice a lot of these links are from How Sweet Eats. Jessica basically dominates the truffle game.
Caramels – I freaking love caramel. It’s my favorite. The cool thing about this is, while it’s kind of time consuming to wrap it up, you could make a huge batch, spend an evening cutting + wrapping + eating it, and have caramels for days. There are a lot of cool recipes out there too, to make you seem like you tried extra hard.
You can do regular caramel, chocolate covered caramel, caramel with marshmallow inside (send me some of that), salted caramel, whiskey caramel, apple cider caramel, basically, please make these all and send them to me. Thanks.
Barks – I like this because you don’t have to be precious about making sure it looks good – you’re supposed to break it up! I found recipes for cake batter bark, peppermint bark, or double chocolate peanut butter bark. I love that sweet and salty. I saved the best for last, though. S’mores bark. I am so hungry right now.
Sauces – Caramel sauce is obviously a clear winner in my book, as well as praline sauce. I think it’d be cute to give this with a pint of ice cream as a hostess gift. You could also make chocolate peppermint syrup, which would go great in ice cream OR would make homemade peppermint mochas. And since it’s hot chocolate season, it would be perfect to pair with a jar of homemade marshmallow fluff.
You could also just make straight up marshmallows and give them out with little tins of hot chocolate mix.
Salts – Did you know you can make your own flavored salts? I found this site that has a ton of recipes, but my favorite were the wine salt, chipotle lime salt, and sriracha salt. You can also make your own lemon pepper!
Olive Oils - I think flavored olive oils would be a really nice gift as well, especially if your friends and family like to cook. (Although I mean even if they don’t… you can dip some bread in that shiz and it’s amazing.) This is a good resource for how to do it. I think garlic olive oil would be bomb (although be careful, this article says that using raw garlic can encourage botulism so uh, don’t do that!). You could also get kind of crazy and try infusing it with black pepper and lemon, paprika, vanilla beans (for making things like olive oil cake or olive oil ice cream – which I’ve tried, and it is delicious.), basil and cilantro, jalepeno and lime, or rosemary.
Pickles – Pickles are pretty easy to make, and super delicious. A while ago I went through a phase where I would make my own pickles and then eat them on Ruebens, which was amaaazing. You could make spicy dill, garlic dill, bread and butter, or sweet pickles. Make them all and give people a pickle quartet.
I saved the best for last. This onion and pepper relish is my crack. It sounds weird, it is so good. You put it on a block of cream cheese and eat it with crackers, how could it not be good? Make a double batch, and keep half for yourself, that’s how good it is. I made this a couple years ago, and it was a big hit. I was going to can it, but I chickened out at the last minute, because I have a fear of poisoning people. Not so much a fear as a healthy concern, I think. Anyway, make this. It’s delicious.
Okay, that’s it for today. I didn’t expect this to get so out of control, but stay tuned for part two, the boozy gift you can make guide.