‘Tis the season for gifting! Let’s face it, certain people are just hard to buy for, and it seems like the list keeps getting longer and longer. From neighbors and teachers to family and close friends, you likely find yourself searching for perfect gifts that can bring a smile to a lot of different faces. For cookbook author and cooking show host Vera Stewart, she recommends going the homemade route. And we’re not talking arts and crafts … we mean food!

“Yes, homemade gifts may require a little extra elbow grease, but the reward always outweighs the work,” says Vera. “The holidays are a perfect time to share your grandma’s favorite recipe or pass along a treat that’s been a staple in your life. These gifts are not only delicious, but also sentimental – a win-win situation!”

Don’t be intimidated by making homemade treats for the holidays – Vera has you covered. She shared with StyleBlueprint a few actionable tips and tricks that will help you tackle this process and make it your own. Read on for these suggestions and a couple of recipes to try.

Take it away, Vera!

Create a Tradition

Even if you don’t have a family favorite or recipe passed down through generations, holiday baking and gifting gives you the perfect way to start a new tradition that others will come to love as well. I recommend picking a recipe that really stands out to you or that you personally love, and go from there. This can become your new go-to gift for holidays or special occasions, and your friends and family will start to look forward to those special times. I still remember the strawberry preserves we always received from my cousin and the “refrigerator cookies” made by my neighbor down the street. These recipes and gifts become synonymous with the people who make them, and it never fails to bring a smile to the face of the giver and the receiver.

Bite-Sized is Better

Yes, a full Bundt or loaf cake makes a beautiful presentation, but it’s more time intensive if you’re looking to bake several as gifts. Instead, select a recipe that can easily be made in bulk, or “re-packaged” to serve as multiple gifts. This doesn’t just mean cookies! Think beyond the traditional and get a little creative. For example, candied pecans or marbled brownies cut into bite-sized pieces both make for beautiful and delicious gifts for those you love. Plus, you can snack on them as you go along!

These cheesecake brownies will make any lucky recipient a happy camper. Get the recipe HERE!

Select Sweet or Savory

Think beyond dessert! Cookies, brownies and sweet treats make wonderful gifts, but don’t be afraid to whip up something savory to share. In fact, many people are overwhelmed with sugar during the holidays, so why not get a little creative? One of my favorite non-dessert giftables is salad dressing paired with a topping or two. My go-to is balsamic dressing and candied pecans because these two toppings can be combined to make a wonderful salad. Toss in a recipe card so they know how to utilize these ingredients and you’ve got a delicious, non-dessert gift. If you try your hand at my candied pecans, print out these labels to add a customized touch to gifts. Simply print on a sheet of stickers and attach to Mason jar lids or other packaging!

Personalize It

When it comes to edible gifts, the food is the main attraction, but there are ways to infuse even more thoughtfulness into it. For example, if the recipe has a special meaning – share it! Add a little notecard to the packaging that explains the story behind making those cheese straws every Christmas with your grandmother. Or, add a mug from your favorite local store to the tin of homemade tea you’re sending to out-of-state friends. These small but sentimental touches add extra layers to your gift.

Play Up Your Packaging

Even if you’re preparing a simple recipe like chocolate chip cookies or homemade bread, you can add some excitement by packaging your treats beautifully. Wrap the bread in a special tea towel and place it inside of a basket for a homey feel or stack your cookies in a vertical glass jar to showcase those giant chocolate chunks. I love the idea of utilizing a packaging method that gives people something they can save and reuse long after the treats have been enjoyed.

Whip up a batch of candied pecans (recipe HERE), and then package them in a reusable glass jar with a seasonal sticker and colorful ribbon. Now THAT’s a gift worth giving AND receiving!

Thanks, Vera! If you’re looking for more recipe inspiration, grab a copy of Vera’s cookbook here. Happy gifting!

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Find great holiday entertaining ideas in our “Entertaining” section. Click HERE!

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