Spoil your loved ones with 8 homemade gift recipes


  Author: Janet Dunn on Houzz


Hurried last-minute gift shopping in the lead-up to Christmas Day often means grabbing blindly for ‘that’ll do’ items, waving a credit card and saying ‘yes’ to free gift wrapping. But just how meaningful is buying gifts that way? I’d argue that friends and family deserve more, so head to the kitchen with a few creative ideas in mind. We’re not talking cooking up a time-consuming storm, but putting a warm-hearted personal touch on some food-related goodies. Home-grown gifts are not only easy on your Christmas budget, but are also so satisfying to give.

Here are a few to get you started.

Photo by Jessica McKay

1. Fabulous fudge

You may not be up to producing perfect raspberry and pine nut macarons with basil ganache, but anyone can make fudge.

Seventh Heaven Fudge

500 grams sugar
500 millilitres cream
3 tablespoons liquid glucose


  1. Put everything in a large, heavy-based pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Cook briskly for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until thick and golden. Test by dropping a blob into cold water – it should form a soft mass when rolled in the fingers.
  3. Off heat, beat with a wooden spoon until very thick and spread quickly on oiled foil.
  4. Leave to set, break into chunks and tuck into a cellophane-lined box with the hand-written recipe tucked inside.

Give to … someone with a serious sweet tooth


Photo by BY ONBrowse Breakfast Bars

2. Crunchy breakfast treat

Make a batch of power-packed breakfast cereal free from unwanted extras.

Toasted Maple Muesli

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup each pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, spelt flakes or rolled quinoa flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4-5 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Mix well and spread thinly on a baking sheet.
  2. Bake 1 hour at 120°C, stirring after 30 minutes.
  3. Cool and store in an airtight jar. Tie a pretty spoon to the jar with a ribbon.

Give to… health-conscious friends


Photo by Torie JayneStep by Step Plan to an Organised Kitchen Pantry

3. Sweet surprise sugars

Subtly flavoured sugars are a lovely addition to a cook’s pantry, for batters, biscuits and cakes, summer beverages, in whipped cream and desserts. Create your own sugar mix – try rosemary, cinnamon, candied violets, scented rose petals, dried citrus peel, chilli…

Lavender-Vanilla Sugar

1 tablespoon edible dried lavender (use fresh lavender if you know it’s chemical-free)
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla pod
Fresh lavender and purple ribbon to garnish


  1. Whiz lavender in a spice grinder or mince very finely. Mix with sugar.
  2. Split vanilla pod and scrape seeds into sugar, sifting with fingers to distribute.
  3. Tuck in split pod, pour into a clean jar and decorate with a fresh sprig of lavender and ribbon.

Give to … friends who love to bake


4. Dry spice rubs

Dry spice rubs add piquancy to roasted and barbecued meats and vegetables. If possible, buy whole spices and grind them yourself. Label the jar with the recipe.

Quickie Spice Rub

1 tablespoon each ground black pepper, dried oregano, cumin powder, onion powder and sea salt flakes
1/2 cup each paprika and brown sugar
Chilli powder or cayenne to taste, for a cook who likes it hot

Shake in a jar.

Give to … your favourite barbecue chef


tea mug
By Jasmin Latona Photography

. Tailor-made tea

Tea is a beautiful gift that encourages the recipient to take time for themselves to enjoy it, or share a cup with their favourite people. This chai mix is aromatic and ridiculously easy to blend.

Masala Chai Mix

2 teaspoons each black peppercorns and coriander seeds
6 cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons each fennel seeds and chopped candied ginger
1 cinnamon stick
12-15 cardamom pods
1 cup black tea leaves


  1. Spread spices on a baking tray and toast at 160°C until fragrant.
  2. Crush or grind coarsely, mix with tea leaves.
  3. Pack loosely in a jar. Alternatively, you could stuff empty fillable teabags and pop them in an pretty cup or teapot.

Give to … someone who likes their tea warm, sweet and spicy

. A treat for hands

A grainy scrub to whisk away cooking odours and grime and make skin baby-soft is a great gift. The oil moisturises, the coconut buffs and the lemon adds fresh fragrance.

Heavenly Hand Scrub

1/2 cup organic coconut oil
4 heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut, or sugar for a coarser scrub
Finely grated rind of 1 large lemon


  1. Stir to combine and pack into a wide-mouthed jar.
  2. Label: ‘Massage a teaspoonful into hands for a few minutes, rinse and pat dry.’ Wrap jar in a soft guest towel.

Give to … a garlic-loving cook or someone who suffers from ‘gardener’s hands’


doggy delights
Photo by Julie Ranee Photography21 Adorable Christmas Decorating Ideas

. Doggy delights

My canine pal loves these satisfyingly crunchy healthy treats. The dough can be frozen.

Charlie’s Carob Crunch

2 cups wholemeal flour
1 cup wheatgerm
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs, shell and all
2 tablespoons carob powder
1 ripe banana
2 tablespoons honey


  1. Process all ingredients on high speed to form a ball.
  2. Knead lightly and roll into a 3-centimetre-wide tube. Wrap and chill.
  3. Cut into 1-centimetre-thick discs, bake at 160°C for 25 minutes.

Give to … the dog in your life


mini cacti
Photo by Singing GardensA Beginner’s Guide to Growing Succulents

. A gift that grows

I’m definitely doing this cute idea this year. Buy a stack of cheap-as-chips Chinese bamboo steamers and line the top one with foil. Fill with a trio of tiny succulents. Pop a small bottle of this spicy-hot oil in the next steamer and a set of ceramic Chinese soup spoons in the bottom one. Poke a pair of bamboo chopsticks through the handle.

Chilli-Sesame Oil

3/4 cup peanut oil
4 small dried red chillies
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons peanut oil in a small heavy-based frying pan
  2. Add chillies and chilli flakes and stir until just sizzling
  3. Add remaining peanut oil and heat until just warm
  4. Add sesame oil and remove from heat. Cool and bottle. (Note: this is a concentrated seasoning oil, not a cooking oil)

Give to … a gardener who’s also a wonder with a wok


Houzz is a platform for home renovation and design, bringing homeowners and home professionals together in a uniquely visual community. These guest posts are supplied by their community of authors and first appeared on www.houzz.com.au

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