Homemade Holidays

Homemade food gifts for all kinds of people and tastes, and packaging ideas that even the crafting-challenged can pull off!


Food styling by Carrie Purcelle Prop styling by Michelle Wong

December is the biggest month of the year for baking: 30 million home cooks visit Allrecipes.com for cookie, candy, and baked goods recipes. And 49% of Allrecipeeps love giving food gifts. So the Allrecipes.com team put together a collection of the Top 20 most fun, easy-to-make, and versatile food gifts—a mix of editors' picks and community favorites—and we've got 8 of them showcased right here. There are also clever-but-manageable packaging ideas that even the crafting challenged can pull off.

Banana Banana Bread

Submitted by Shelley Albeluhn

Prep | 15 min Cook | 1 hr, 5 min Total | 1 hr, 30 min

Serves 12

Rating ***** 7,648 reviews

armagazine.com/banana-bread

"Why compromise the banana flavor? This banana bread is moist and delicious, with loads of banana flavor. Friends and family love my recipe and say it's by far the best! It's wonderful toasted. Enjoy!” —Shelley Albeluhn

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2⅓ cups mashed overripe bananas

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. [From our kitchen: If making the packaging for the banana bread, see instructions, right, for info on paper baking pans.]
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Per 1-slice serving 229 Cal; 9 g Fat (5 g Sat); 4 g Pro; 35 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 223 mg Sodium; 56 mg Chol

See how to make this recipe at armagazine.com/banana-bread-video.


packaging

  • Medium paper baking pan ($9 for 12 at kingarthur flour.com)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Embroidery needle and thread
  • 1½-centimer red felt balls ($5.50 for 12 at purlsoho.com)
  • 9×12-inch piece of red felt
  • Hot glue
  • Gift tag (optional)

  • Bake bread in a paper baker, let cool, and neatly wrap in plastic wrap. (Pull tightly and secure seams on the bottom so they are hidden.)
  • Using embroidery needle and thread, make a garland with 8 to 12 felt balls, leaving the ends of the thread long enough to tie around loaf.
  • Cut two 12x3-inch strips from felt. Overlap two of the short ends by ¼ inch and hot-glue them together, forming a 23½-inch-long strip. Wrap the strip around the middle of the loaf, then wrap the garland around the felt, situating the balls on top of the bread and tying underneath the pan.
  • If desired, slip a gift tag between the garland and the felt.

—amypiowa

Original Irish Cream

Submitted by Mom

Total | 5 min

Makes 4½ cups (40 ounces)

Rating ***** 359 reviews

armagazine.com/irish-cream

Irish whiskey mixed with cream and sugar with hints of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and almond. Will keep for two months if refrigerated.”

Mom

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1⅔ cups Irish whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend on high for 20 to 30 seconds. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. [From our kitchen: You'll want to chill this before serving; it takes at least an hour to get it nice and cold.] Shake well before serving.

See how to make this recipe at armagazine.com/irish-cream-video.

packaging

  • Painter's tape
  • 1-liter quattro stagioni bottle ($4 each at containerstore.com)
  • Gold multisurface metallic acrylic craft paint ($2.50 for a 2-ounce container at homedepot.com)
  • Foam brush
  • Gold or red American Crafts glitter paper ($15 for 12 sheets at amazon.com)
  • Pinking shears
  • Small hole punch
  • Red embroidery thread

  • Use painter's tape to mark off an area on the bottle to paint. Apply paint according to manufacturer's directions, using a foam brush. Let paint dry, then remove tape.
  • Cut a 2-inch circle of glitter paper using pinking shears. Punch a small hole near one side. Write holiday message onto the back, then secure to the top of the bottle using embroidery thread.

—amypiowa

Dry Rub For Ribs

Submitted by Denise Smith

Prep | 10 min Total | 10 min

Makes ½ cup

Rating ***** 325 reviews

armagazine.com/dry-rub

"Here's a super-simple dry rub for a slab of pork ribs. Works great with chicken too.” —Denise Smith

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons paprika
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 1½ tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together all ingredients. Rub into pork ribs. For best results, allow ribs to marinate overnight. Grill ribs as desired.

Per 1-tablespoon serving 27 Cal; 0.2 g FAT (0 g Sat); 0.4 g Pro; 7 g Carb; 0.8 g Fiber; 1,311 mg Sodium; 0 mg Chol


packaging

  • Painter's tape
  • Magnetic spice tin ($3 each at bedbathandbeyond.com)
  • Chalkboard paint ($7 for an 8-ounce container at joann.com)
  • Foam brush
  • White charcoal pencil ($4 for a set of 2 at joann.com)
  • 1/3-inch-wide red velvet ribbon
  • Hot glue
  • Magazine pages
  • Double-sided tape (optional)

  • Use painter's tape to mark off a 1-inch strip around center of spice tin. Paint with chalkboard paint according to manufacturer's directions with foam brush. Let dry.
  • Use a white charcoal pencil to write on the name of the rub.
  • Wrap a length of velvet ribbon around lid of tin and secure with a dab of hot glue.
  • Cut two 1-inch circles from a magazine page. Fold one circle in half and use a piece of double-sided tape to secure it to the other circle with one half standing upward (see photo). Then make the standing half into a triangle, for the base of the tree, by cutting off rounded edges. Cut a slit horizontally down the center of triangle. Now secure the entire base to top of tin with hot glue or double-sided tape.
  • Cut out a 2- to 2½-inch-tall tree and slide into the slit.

—amypiowa

Doggie Biscuits I

Submitted by Dani

Prep | 25 min Cook | 20 min Total | 1 hr, 15 min

Makes 3 dozen

Rating ***** 57 reviews

armagazine.com/dog-biscuits

"These are our dog's favorite treats! If your dog has a corn allergy, you can substitute additional flour or oats for the cornmeal. Bon appétit!” —Dani

  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1½ cups water, or as needed
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.
  • Mix together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, and oats. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and gradually pour in water, oil, eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla. Mix well. [From our kitchen: Our dough was very wet, so we added 1/3 cup more whole wheat flour.]
  • On a flat surface, use a rolling pin to roll out dough. [From our kitchen: Roll out the dough to ¼-inch thickness on a well-floured cutting board; it's helpful to flour the rolling pin too.] Cut dough into dog biscuit shapes using a cookie cutter. [From our kitchen: We used a 3x1-inch dog-bone cutter, dipped in flour, and got fifty-eight 3-inch biscuits, including rerolls.] Place biscuits on prepared cookie sheet.
  • Bake cookies for 20 minutes. Turn off oven and leave biscuits inside for another 20 minutes to harden.

To see all the Top 20 food gifts, and to access videos, how-to resources, and more community ratings and reviews for Homemade Holiday food gifts, go to armagazine.com/food-gifts.


packaging

  • Paintbrush
  • White craft paint
  • 1½-quart color pop acrylic canister with red lid ($13 at containerstore.com)
  • Fine-tip marker
  • Candy cane hang tag ($5.50 for 12 at shopsweetlulu.com)
  • ½-inch ribbon
  • Embroidery thread

  • Use a small paintbrush and white craft paint to paint paw prints on the canister. Let dry completely.
  • With the marker, write the pup's name onto the blank space of the hang tag, then thread onto embroidery thread and secure to canister handle with ribbon.
  • Fill canister with doggie biscuits.

—amypiowa

Allrecipes.com 5-Star Rating

Megan's Granola

Submitted by annie9

Prep | 20 min Cook | 20 min Total | 40 min

Makes 22 cups (thirty ¾-cup servings)

Rating ***** 669 reviews

armagazine.com/megans-granola

"My daughter and I came up with this recipe, and it is absolutely wonderful. Several of my children who typically don't care for granola loved it. I've tried many granola recipes and this tops them all. Enjoy!” —Annie9

  • 8 cups rolled oats
  • 1½ cups wheat germ
  • 1½ cups oat bran [From our kitchen: The oat bran makes the granola a bit powdery; you could make this optional.]
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups raisins or sweetened dried cranberries

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
  • Combine oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir together brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over dry ingredients and stir to coat. Spread mixture out evenly on baking sheets.
  • Bake until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through. [From our kitchen: It took us about 40 minutes for the granola to be properly toasted, switching the position of the pans halfway through baking and stirring frequently.] Cool, then stir in raisins or cranberries before storing in an airtight container.

Per ¾-cup serving 369 Cal; 20 g Fat (2 g Sat); 8 g Pro; 45 g Carb; 6 g Fiber; 122 mg Sodium; 0 mg Chol

See how to make this recipe at armagazine.com/megans-granola-video.


packaging

  • Clear medium cello gusset bag (30 cents each at thinkgarnish.com)
  • Embroidery thread or 1/3-inch ribbon
  • Red manila tag ($3 for 20 at shopsweetlulu.com)
  • Red dotted washi tape ($3 per 10-yard roll at shopsweetlulu.com)
  • Kraft cardboard drink carrier ($1.50 each at think garnish.com)
  • Bottled milk

  • Fill cello bag three-fourths full with granola. Tie top closed with a small piece of embroidery thread or ribbon, threading on a holiday tag.
  • Decorate cardboard drink carrier with washi tape.
  • Tie a ribbon onto milk bottle.

—amypiowa

Salted Caramel Sauce

Submitted by Chef John

Prep | 5 min Cook | 20 min Total | 25 min

Makes 1¼ cups

Rating ***** 23 reviews

armagazine.com/salted-caramel-sauce

"It may be blasphemy to say that hot fudge isn't the ultimate warm ice cream topping, but after tasting this amazing salted caramel sauce, that's exactly what I'm suggesting.” —Chef John

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into slices
  • ½ cup heavy cream plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 pinch sea salt to taste [From our kitchen: We used ½ teaspoon sea salt.]

  • Place sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir continuously until sugar begins to melt. Continue stirring until sugar melts completely, begins to darken, and all chunks are dissolved, about 10 minutes. Stop stirring and continue to cook until sugar begins to smoke and turns a dark shade of amber, 3 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and wait 30 seconds.
  • Whisk in butter until melted and combined. Slowly pour in all cream, taking care because it can bubble over. Sprinkle in salt and stir to combine. Transfer to a jar and cool completely before refrigerating.

Per 2.5-tablespoon serving 215 Cal; 13 g Fat (8 g Sat); 0.4 g PRO; 25 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 97 mg Sodium; 41 mg Chol

See how to make this recipe at armagazine.com/salted-caramel-sauce-video.


packaging

  • Glass jar with lid ($3 for a 7.75-ounce hermetic glass storage jar at containerstore.com)
  • Red waxed-cotton cord (99 cents per yard at fusionbeads.com)
  • Hot glue
  • 2¼x1-inch oval label ($10.50 for 120 labels at paperpresentation.com)
  • Fine-point marker
  • ½-inch jingle bell ($4 for 15 at joann.com)

  • Fill jar with caramel sauce and secure lid.
  • Wrap cord around the bottom inch of jar, securing with dots of hot glue as you go.
  • Write “salted caramel sauce” onto a label with marker. Tie a bell and label onto jar with some waxed-cotton cord.

—amypiowa

Allrecipes.com 5-Star Rating

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

Submitted by Gerry Meyer

Prep | 25 min Cook | 1 hr Total | 1 hr, 25 min

Makes 3 dozen

Rating ***** 873 reviews

armagazine.com/cranberry-pistachio-biscotti

"The red and green make a great Christmas cookie. Have used other nuts instead of pistachios with success. If your pistachios are salted, omit the ¼ teaspoon salt from the recipe.” —Gerry Meyer

  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1½ cups pistachio nuts

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in eggs. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; gradually stir into egg mixture. Mix in cranberries and nuts by hand.
  • Divide dough in half. Form 2 logs (12x2 inches each) on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Dough will be sticky; wet hands with cool water to handle dough more easily.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 275 degrees F.
  • Cut logs on diagonal into ¾-inch-thick slices [From our kitchen: We got only 29 cookies; logs could be cut ½-inch thick for better yield.] Lay on sides on parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until dry; cool. [From our kitchen: We needed 15 minutes on the second round of baking for cookies to dry.]

Per 1-cookie serving 92 Cal; 4 g Fat (0.6 g Sat); 2 g Pro; 12 g Carb; 0.8 g Fiber; 55 mg Sodium; 12 mg Chol

See how to make this recipe at armagazine.com/cranberry-pistachio-biscotti-video.


packaging

  • Clear medium cello gusset bag (30 cents each at thinkgarnish.com)
  • Red embroidery thread
  • Pint-size wood berry box (70 cents each at thinkgarnish.com)
  • Brown kraft paper
  • Hot glue (optional)
  • Fine-point marker (office supply stores carry white ones)

  • Fill a cello bag about two-thirds full with biscotti. Tie the top closed with embroidery thread and nestle bag inside a berry box.
  • Cut eight ½x1-inch strips from kraft paper. Fold in half, then hook over a length of embroidery thread (the thread will be in each fold) to make a banner. Glue the flags into place if desired, and cut decoratively if desired.
  • Write out “biscotti” on the flags with marker, then tie banner to the front of the box with the ends of the thread.

—amypiowa

Allrecipes.com 5-Star Rating

Cranberry, Apple, and Fresh Ginger Chutney

Submitted by foodelicious

Prep | 15 min Cook | 15 min Total | 30 min

Makes 4 cups (16 servings)

Rating ***** 32 reviews

armagazine.com/cranberry-chutney

"This piquant chutney is not as sweet as traditional cranberry sauce. The bite of the fresh ginger will become more pronounced as the chutney rests. If you have any left after Thanksgiving, try it in turkey sandwiches with a smear of cream cheese. Oh. My. God.” —Foodelicious

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup white sugar [From our kitchen: We recommend reducing the white sugar to ¼ cup; the finished chutney was a bit on the sweet side for our taste.]
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ½ cup chopped Granny Smith apple
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery

Combine cranberries, raisins, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until berries start to pop, about 5 minutes. Add onion, apple, and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken, 5 to 10 more minutes. Transfer to a container and cool slightly. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blossom.

Per serving 115 Cal; 0 g Fat (0 g Sat); 0 g Pro; 29 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 10 mg Sodium; 0 mg Chol


packaging

  • Large white gable box with window ($2.50 at thinkgarnish.com)
  • Fabric scraps and ribbon of various widths
  • Construction paper
  • Hot glue or craft glue
  • Straight-sided 8-ounce jar ($3 at container store.com)
  • Wedge or two of cheese (such as Fontina, sharp cheddar, and/or Brie)
  • Crackers

  • Decorate the outside of a gable box to look like a holiday window: Make festive curtains from fabric scraps and ribbon, attaching with hot glue, and make a roof from scalloped strips of construction paper.
  • Fill jar with chutney. Put chutney into box with cheese and crackers.

—amypiowa