Homemade holiday gifts are the best

As the holidays approach, many of us are busy making a list of gifts we need to purchase. However, it always seems there are those one or two people that we just never know what to buy them! Well rather than become overly stressed this year, why not think about making them a gift that will be unique and something they obviously do not already have!

Here are some ideas to get you started on making the perfect gift for those hard to buy for people on your list.

≤ Create a recipe booklet. Select favorite holiday or everyday recipes and copy them onto festive recipe cards. Punch a hole in the corner and tie together with a ribbon or place them in a binder or photo album.

≤ Purchase a holiday mug and fill it with packets of flavored teas, hot cocoa or apple cider mixes or coffee. You could also include packets of soup mix or instant cereals. Include a spoon for mixing, wrap in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.

≤ Create a homemade calendar for the New Year with family pictures. Highlight birthdays, anniversaries and other important events throughout the year.

≤ If you are into baking, bake extra cookies, muffins and breads and fill tins or other containers with these holiday treats. This will be a real treat for people that have little time for baking.

≤ Make homemade mixes for soup, cookies or other baked goods in a jar. These make very decorative gifts that are thoughtful while providing the recipient with a convenient and easily prepared meal or dessert. Just layer the dry ingredients in a jar, attach the recipe directions for completing the item on a card to the jar. Mason jars make an ideal container since you can decorate the jar with a fabric top or ribbon.

Friendship

Soup Mix

In a quart size jar layer the following ingredients:

1/2 cup dry split peas

2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules

1/4 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup dry lentils

1/4 cup dry minced onions

2teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2 cup long-grain white rice

In a plastic sandwich bag, place 1/2 cup macaroni noodles and place the bag on top of the other ingredients. Cover the jar tightly with a lid, decorate and attach the following recipe directions.

Additional ingredients for Friendship Soup:

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey

3 quarts water

1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes

Brown meat and drain. Place in a large pot and add the water and tomatoes. Add soup mix except macaroni. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Add macaroni and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes (until macaroni is done). For best flavor, use this mix within one year.

Makes approximately 12 servings.

Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookie Mix

Layer the following ingredients in a clean, quart size jar:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Cover the jar tightly with a lid, decorate and attach the following recipe directions.

Additional ingredients for Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookies:

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix butter, vanilla and egg together until smooth. Add cookie mix and mix well. Place by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. For best flavor, use this mix within nine months.

Makes approximately 28 cookies.

There is nothing better than a homemade gift from the heart for the holidays. Happy Holidays!

Adapted from Garden-Robinson, J. “Mix It Up: Food Mixes in a Jar.” North Dakota State University Extension.

≤≤≤

Sharon McDonald is a senior extension educator/food safety specialist.