Our Best DIY Food Gifts for Every Budget and Skill Level

Holiday cake mix in jar gift image


Going the DIY route for gifting this holiday season? Good call. Here’s your guide to making (not-lame) food gifts your loved ones will actually use and enjoy. No matter how crafty you are in the kitchen or how limited your budget, we have you covered this year.

Let me guess. There are a lot of wonderful people in your life you want to give a little something special to this holiday season, but, like most of us, you don’t have unlimited resources like time, money, and limitless creativity to make it happen?

I hear you, loud and clear. And I would advise you to turn to your own kitchen. DIY food gifts are heartfelt for sure, and can be exciting to receive, as well as easy and inexpensive to give. And no, I’m not talking about baking another batch of cookies (look, cookies are great and I’m sure yours are fantastic… but we all have cookies coming out of our ears this time of year). I’m talking edible gifts that are actually useful, and feel special, too. To help guide you to the right gifting option for you, the ideas compiled below are categorized by how difficult and expensive they are to make.

Syrups and Extracts

Difficulty Level: 2; Expense Level: $$ 

Homemade syrups add instant brilliance to coffee drinks, tea, and cocktails. Give your friends and family natural, delicious flavored syrups that they can enjoy while entertaining during the holidays and beyond. Package your syrup in a sleek, slender glass bottle with a tag. For an extra decorative touch, tie a cinnamon stick to the tag if it’s chai syrup, dried lemon for lemon syrup, a honey stirrer for honey, or a sprig of rosemary for an herb syrup.

Syrups last a few weeks in the refrigerator, while homemade vanilla extract will last in the pantry for months. Recipients can actually extend the life of vanilla extract by adding more alcohol to the bottle with the vanilla bean for as long as the bean has flavor to give. For a deeper dive into making your own vanilla extract, read this.

Golden Vanilla Syrup

Dry Mixes

Difficulty Level: 1; Expense Level: $

Homemade cocoa mix is a guaranteed hit for chocolate lovers, families with kids, or teacher presents. You can even include homemade marshmallows. While a homemade dry mix for making waffles is a thoughtful gift that allows the recipient to enjoy a scrumptious and effortless Christmas morning (and really, any morning) breakfast. This makes for a great hostess gift; they took care of dinner and you provide their breakfast the next day. Give dry mixes in an air-tight container, like a Mason jar or a jar with a hinge lid.

Peppermint Stick Cocoa

It takes only minutes to assemble, but this combo of mini chocolate chips, crushed peppermint candies, cocoa, sugar, and milk powder makes a festive hot cocoa mix that’s bound to be one “hot” holiday gift.

Nut Mixes

Difficulty Level: 2; Expense Level: $$$ 

Give the gift of easy entertaining with a killer roasted nut mix. They are a must for cocktail hour, which does and should occur often throughout the holidays. A nut mix like this will stay fresh for a week or two stored in a container with a lid, so the giftee has a fairly wide window to enjoy them. This crunchy, salty snack is perfect to balance out all of the sweets that are out on the table during December, and can be stashed in the freezer if anyone wants to save some for later.

Brown Sugar-Spiced Nut Mix


Difficulty Level: 2; Expense Level: $$ 

The holidays are hectic and granola makes a versatile gift that comes to the rescue, preventing snack-less afternoons and sad breakfasts. Your friends can eat it with milk, yogurt, alone, or use it to top muffins during the other 30 days during December. Granola is an excellent option for gifting given that the main ingredient, oats, are super inexpensive, it’s easy to make in large batches, and people will actually eat it (unlike the excess of stale cookies they’re racking up right about now). Granola from the grocery store ain’t cheap and homemade versions have much more flavor and are endlessly customizable. Granola lasts about 2 months in an airtight container and can also be frozen for later.

Homemade Granola


Difficulty Level: 1; Expense Level: 

Homemade sweet or savory seasoned popcorn is a delicious alternative to those large store-bought, 3 compartment tins of caramel + cheese dusted + plain butter popcorn. If you are nervous about making popcorm from loose kernels on the stovetop, keep in mind that it’s basically the same thing as  making it in a microwave. Just remember to remove the kernels from heat after most have popped or if you begin to smell the signature burnt popcorn smell. Popcorn will stay fresh in a tightly sealed container for about 5 days, so this gift be prepared right before you plan on gifting it. Package your popcorn in a tin, paper chinese takeout box, or a sealable bag.

Cocoa-Cinnamon Popcorn

Appetizers and Dinner Mains

Difficulty Level: 3; Expense Level: $$ 

Give the gift of an easy dinner the week after Chirstmas. Homemade marinara means that only noodles are needed and homemade soup means that only a salad is needed for a complete meal. And sometimes a break from the kitchen is just the thing a busy friend wants most from Santa this year. Any shortcut you can provide that will make getting dinner on the table or entertaining guests  during the holidays easier will be greatly appreciated. Deliver a sauce or soup in a large sealed, clear jar that reveals the delicious contents. Include a tag with suggested sides or quick encouragement to relax.

Dip Trio Appetizer Kit

Read More
%d bloggers like this: