It's probably because I live in a postage stamp, but I'm not a great fan of a lot of the "Christmas Gifts" you see around. Some (not all I hasten to add, but some) come under what I think of as Christmas Clutter - it's cute, its sweet, and after new years it won't be touched again. Things that fall into this category can be roughly surmised as anything you see touted under the stocking filler/secret santa banner.
Food Gifts can also feature quite heavily - its usually a mug with some fancy tea, a bottle of oil with chilli's in, a small bottle of booze and a logo glass. Instead of spending out on those, its often cheaper - and nicer - to make something yourself. So here are five ideas for quick and easy food & drink gifts that you can put together with very minimal culinary skills needed.
- Jam - Chutney seems more Christmassy in a way, but Jam is much more simple. My choice would be black forest jam, it's my signature jam and I think its very Christmassy. There are loads of recipes out there to use but basically add soft fruit/berries to jam sugar and cook away. As for the jars, beg empties from everyone you can for free ones, and if you can't remove the labels make your own and use them to cover up with double sided sticky tape.
- Flavored Spirits - The basic idea with these is to steep the plain spirit with whatever you wish to flavour it with. I've made fruitty ones before but other options include everything from candy - Skittles Vodka is a favourite- to things like Christmas Pudding. Don't feel constrained by vodka either, as long as you can think it, try it. This post on this post on bon appetit has some good ideas. Cheaper spirits are best for the base as you don't want other flavourings in there messing with what you are putting in.
- Mason Jar Cookie Kit - If you have a "Bake-Off" fan on your Christmas list, this is a must, and pinterest is full of ideas for these. Sadly, I'm the only baker on my list, so I've no one to make these for but me, but the idea is to make a very pretty mix that they just need to add eggs and/or vegetable oil too. This is foolproof, even if all you are capable of is burning water. No cooking involved.
- Peppermint Bark - Get some nice white chocolate and some candy canes. Smash the candy canes and put aside. Melt the white chocolate and spread over a baking tray lined with parchement paper. Sprinkle on the candy canes. It really is that easy. You can then pack how you like - my preference is for cellophane bags (I get mine on ebay) tied shut with Christmas ribbon.
- Mulling Syrup - Of course I'm touting my recipe from last week, but it really is a lovely gift - especially when added onto the always welcome gift of wine. The added bonus is that you can make a wee bit extra and save it for yourself. My recipe is here, but there are plenty of others online. That said, mine is obviously the best.