Terrific Homemade Food Gifts!

What homemade food gifts do you make for the holidays? Try some of these tried and true homemade holiday gifts submitted by other readers!

BAKLAVA is one of the yummiest gifts I have gotten! If you have never heard of it, it is a dessert from the Middle east made from phyllo dough and nuts and a honey syrup. My husband bought me a whole tray of it for Christmas from a Lebanese restaurant in our downtown and I enjoyed it for a week after that because it keeps well. The next year, I made it as a gift for all my girls' teachers and for our neighbors. I cut it into small squares and put each one in a Christmas cupcake liner and then arranged a few of these in a small gift box with tissue paper. I like that it is a bit more unique than the usual homemade food gifts.   ~ Sari in Santa Clara, CA

1 pkg. phyllo dough
1 pound chopped nuts
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Unroll phyllo dough and cut whole stack in half to fit pan. (Cover it with a dampened cloth to keep it from drying out while you make the recipe.) Lay two sheets of dough in greased 9x13 pan, brush with melted butter. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle some nut mixture on top (a heaping spoonful). Top with two more sheets of dough and repeat until all the nuts are used up. End with about 8 sheets to make the top layer. Use a sharp knife to cut the baklava into servings. Be sure to cut all the way to the bottom because it does not cut well after it is baked. Bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown. While it is baking, boil sugar, water & honey together. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add vanilla. When baklava is done, pour the sauce evenly over it so it soaks down into all the cuts. Let it cool. Serve in cupcake papers or freeze immediately. Baklava should be left open to the air so it will stay crisp.

Popcorn Balls - Photo thanks to caramelpotatoes.com

CARAMEL CORN makes very yummy & easy homemade holiday gifts. You can put it in a pretty jar and make a cool label for it or you can put it in a big bowl wrap it in colored saran wrap and add a few movie rentals! Its a great way to greet a new neighbor, say happy birthday or just enjoy it yourself. - Maria in New York

Give a BRAIDED LOAF of sweet bread with frosting and a note that says, “Everybody kneads someone like you!”

One uncommon food many people are surprised to find they like is CHUTNEY. I make different flavors each year and can it in half pint jars to give as gifts. Almost without fail, I will get asked for the recipe (or more chutney!) later. Easy, fairly inexpensive and unique. - Margory in Australia

I had planned to grow an HERB GARDEN this year so I could give herbs as gifts...but I never got around to planting and thought my plan was ruined....but then I found some herbs really cheap at the store so I was able to make it work after all! (Next year, I want to grow an herb garden...but you've heard that before, right?) I took the herbs and made different SEASONED SALTS – a Cajun one, an Italian one and a Chili Salt. (They are awesome on grilled meat, if I do say so myself!) - John in Millbourne PA

For a really quick gift for a teen or as a housewarming gift or for someone new who you don't know very well: Buy a big container of HOT CHOCOLATE MIX (or make it yourself to save money.) Then divide it into jars or bags, add gourmet flavorings, and make your own labels. Flavor ideas: Mocha Toffee Cappuccino - crushed toffee candy & instant coffee, Mexican Hot Chocolate – cinnamon & brown sugar, White Winter – white chocolate chips, vanilla sugar & marshmallows, Peppermint – crushed peppermint sticks.  - Sarah Boone in Redmond, WA

PEPPERMINT BARK- melted white chocolate chips with crushed candy canes sprinkled on top. Delicious!  Here is a cute idea from Cheryl at tidymom.net for cookie cutter shaped peppermint bark

Funnel Cakes in a Bag - Photo: easy-child-crafts.com

For a school fundraiser, I saw a cute idea that would make great homemade food gifts for families. Take a brown paper bag and give it button eyes and straw hair. Then put a bag of FUNNEL CAKE MIX inside (Hint: pancake mix and funnel cake mix are almost identical) and use a funnel as the scarecrow's hat. - Weatherford, TX  * You could also use a red paper bag with black buttons and a white pom-pom on top of the funnel for a Santa funnel cake bag!*

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