Food gifts from the kitchen are first and foremost gifts from the heart. They’re homemade bundles of love and the care you take in creating something from your warm and cozy kitchen will radiate affection like no store-bought trinket can. So, whether you put them in pretty decorative tins, cellophane bags cinched with a silky ribbon, old-fashioned glass jars or brown paper packages tied up with string, when it comes to homemade for the holidays, here are a few of my favorite things.

  • Pecan Shortbread (pictured above) – or pecan sandies – buttery, crumbly squares of deliciousness flecked with toasted pecans. What a sweet treat.
White Chocolate Bark with Dried Fruit, Nuts and Candied Ginger
White Chocolate Bark with Dried Fruit, Nuts and Candied Ginger
  • Chocolate Bark: Who can resist velvety chocolate topped with fruit and nuts? It tastes like you slaved away all day at the stove, but only you’ll know how quick and easy it is to prepare.
Mexican Hot Chocolate with Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows
Mexican Hot Chocolate with Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows
  • Vanilla Marshmallows: Kids of all ages love to wrap their hands around a steaming mug of hot chocolate – especially when you plop in one or two of these delightful, plump pillows. Or give the gift of outrageous s’mores when combined with homemade graham crackers. It’s a marshmallow world in the winter!
Mulling Spices
Mulling Spices
  • Homemade Mulling Spices: Perfect for mulled cider or wine or to just bubble away on the stove for a fabulous home fragrance.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Homemade Vanilla Extract
  • Homemade Vanilla Extract: As long as you keep adding in vanilla beans and topping it off with more vodka as it’s used, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Caramel Popcorn
Caramel Popcorn
  • Caramel Popcorn: Or Homemade Cracker Jack. Either way, it’s completely addictive and you should probably include a warning label on the gift tag.
  • Homemade Granola Bars: If you set out a plate of these dynamite granola bars for Santa, you’ll definitely secure your place on the Nice List. Promise.
Jezebel Sauce on Brie
Jezebel Sauce on Brie
  • Jezebel Sauce: Forget that this jazzy condiment is named after the wanton title character in the 1938 movie, when you ring the door with your elbow and present the hostess with a jar of this sauce, a round of brie and a bottle of wine, you’ll quite likely be invited back.
  • Cocktail Party Nuts: Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan; add in some brown sugar, a few teaspoons of your favorite spices and 2 cups mixed nuts. Cook for 5 minutes. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely. Devour. Repeat.
  • Citrus-Marinated Olives: A bowl of plump and glossy marinated olives is hands-down one of my favorite hospitality gestures. And, this primo party food, fantastic with wine or cocktails, couldn’t be easier to throw together.

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