17 last-minute gift ideas from your pantry
Chances are if the title of this post caught your eye, there are still a few names on your gift list you just haven’t gotten around to shopping for – and now it’s the eve of Christmas Eve.
At this point I strongly advise against heading out of the house to shop, for you will only endure painfully long line-ups, grumpy sales clerks, crowded parking lots, and, if you live in the north as I do, slippery roads.
Instead, why don’t you slip into something cozy, wrap on an apron, choose an item or two from this list and create a delicious homemade food gift?
Here’s how you can get the most out of this post. There are 17 homemade edible gift items that are varied enough to suit anyone on your list. They are divided into three groups by the estimated amount of time it takes to make them.
Some recipes are included here, others are found elsewhere, although I’ve listed the ingredients for each recipe so you can see at a glance if your pantry has them in stock before you click through to the recipe. Salt is the only item not listed, as that is one staple I can safely assume each kitchen has!
Before you get started, do a quick check of potential containers you have on hand that would work for presenting your recipe. Homemade food gifts can be transported in many different ways, but often the container can limit your choice of what to make. If you’re loving the walnut and dried-fruit topping, for example, but have no jars, things could get a little sticky.
Here is a wide variety of suggestions to choose from:
- Bags – clear cellophane or brown paper decorated with children’s art
- Jars – any size or shape will do
- Bottles – good for oils and vinegars
- Tins – all shapes and sizes; antiques are particularly charming
- Dishes – a pretty mug, an ice cream bowl, an espresso cup
- Small boxes – you can cover them in Christmas paper
- Small flower pots
- Wax paper and ribbon
- Baking tins, mini loaf pans, or small pie pans
Now round up as much ribbon as you can — there should be plenty of leftovers from the Christmas gift wrapping — and get the kids set up with stiff paper and markers to make and decorate labels for your homemade gifts.
1. Homemade Jam, Jelly and Preserves
Don’t disregard this summer’s spaghetti sauce as too plain! As far as I am concerned, any type of home preserve is liquid gold.
2. Homemade Cookies and Holiday Baked Goods
That college student on your list is going to appreciate a tin of these.
Pantry Items: sugar, vanilla bean
10 Minute Gifts
Pantry Items: nuts, butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa
Pantry Items: walnuts, dried cranberries, dried apricots, honey
6. Herb oil
Pantry Items: Olive Oil, fresh herbs
Infused oil is a great way to add quick flavor to salad dressings, marinades, or vegetables dishes. I make mine with rosemary because I’ve got a big bushy plant of it, but you can use most any fresh herb here. Sage, thyme, oregano and tarragon would all be top choices for me, as well as rosemary.
Here is the basic method; estimate 4-5 generous stems of herbs for each cup of olive oil.
- Sterilize bottles or jars.
- Wash herbs and part dry.
- Warm olive oil in a pot.
- Stuff herbs in bottles.
- Top with warm oil.
- Allow to cool, then top with cork or screw cap.
- Label and include instructions to remove herbs after a week.
Pantry Items: nuts, egg, sugar, whole orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Pantry Items: flour, baking powder, baking soda, oats, M&M’s, chocolate chips, white & brown sugar, (pecans), eggs, butter, vanilla
You’ve heard of pancake mix and muffing mix, but Bakerella brings us a perfected ‘cookie kit’ that is too cute for words. Layer the dry ingredients in a jar and in the label or tag, include remaining ingredients to be added (egg,vanilla, and butter), as well as baking instructions.
9. Hot Cocoa Mix
Everyone loves homemade hot cocoa, especially at Christmas. It’s fast to stir together the ingredients and then package in bags or jars for gifts. Mix it up by layering mini marshmallows, crushed candy cane, cinnamon, espresso powder or mini chocolate chips in the jar–just not all at once! Include a mug and a spoon, if you have some to spare.
- 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Measure all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until they are evenly blended.
Include these instructions in the packaging: Spoon 3 or 4 generous tablespoons of cocoa mix into your cup, add 6 oz boiling water, and stir well. Enjoy!
Pantry Items: unsalted butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, vanilla
30 Minute Gifts
Pantry Items: apple or cranberry juice, whole cranberries (fresh or frozen), brown sugar, spices, currants, raisins, dried cranberries, apples, whisky or brandy, maple and/or vanilla extract, maple syrup, honey
Don’t be daunted by the lengthy list of ingredients; this yummy pie or tart filling is simple to make and a holiday classic.
12. Peppermint Bark
Pantry Items: semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peppermint extract, candy canes
Pantry Items: sugar, butter, evaporated milk, peanut butter, marshmallow cream, vanilla
Pantry Items: flour, instant coffee, cinnamon, butter, brown & white sugar, vanilla, milk chocolate, Heath toffee bits
15. Garam Masala
Pantry Items: whole cloves, black cardamom, cumin seed, cinnamon stick, mace, nutmeg
If you have the ingredients on hand, my Garam Masala spice blend makes a stunning and fragrant gift.
16. Pork and Poultry Spice Rub
Here is a classic spice rub from Martha Stewart for pork or poultry:
- 1/3 cup coarse salt
- 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (optional)
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients, using your hands to break up the sugar. Package in small jars and label: ‘Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.’
And finally, a simple taco seasoning.
17. Taco Seasoning
- 1 ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Ground red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients together and package the same as the Spice Rub above.
Packaging and Labeling
Remember, less is more; a simple ribbon or handmade label is often sufficient decoration. Obviously, if you are making many gifts, hand-written is a lovely personal touch, but printing labels is the most practical.
Think about to whom you are presenting the gift. They would probably appreciate a thoughtful note included with the gift, rather than an overdressed jar, so keep it simple and have fun!
No question today; you’ve got to get busy and make those gifts! But feel free to share your last-minute thoughts on the holiday season. Merry Christmas, one and all.
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