12 Last-Minute Homemade Holiday Gifts

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Ho, ho, ho!

So, if you’re like me this year, you might be scrambling around for a few last-minute gifts. (Seriously, where did the time go?)

Here’s a dozen ideas for delicious gifts you can make at home in the few days before Christmas and New Year’s.

1. Black & White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve never met anyone who would really argue with a bag of homemade cookies. Hands down, this is one of my all-time favorite cookies. It’s a classic chocolate chip cookie dough that’s been packed full of crushed Oreos and then baked until just crisp.

Black & White Chocolate Chip Cookies

2. Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

This stuff is seriously delicious. And because it only lasts for a month, it’s actually the perfect thing to whip up at the eleventh hour.

Homemade Irish Cream

3. Simple Syrup

While we’re on the topic of cocktails, homemade simple syrup is right at home in a gift basket for your favorite barfly.

Package it up with a good bottle of vodka, a few nice martini glasses, and a swank cocktail shaker. Make flavored syrup by adding in different flavorings. (Try pink peppercorns or ginger or orange peel.)

Simple Syrup


4. Vanilla Extract

Now, there’s a disclaimer on this one: It’s too late to produce a deep brown vanilla extract before Christmas.

That said, you could certainly bottle up some vanilla beans with a few baking goodies (brownie mix, a pretty bundt pan, nice wooden mixing spoons), with instructions that it will be ready in about 5 weeks.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

5. Chocolate-Peanut Butter Hearts

This is my homemade version of a Take-Five bar (pretzels + peanut butter + chocolate), minus the caramel. I make them in heart shape using mini pretzels, but you could use any small, flat pretzel you can find.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Hearts

6. Homemade Marshmallows

These need to be made a day in advance, so that they can set up overnight. I like to package them up with a couple of mugs and some good hot chocolate mix.

Homemade Marshmallows

7. Candied Orange Peel

This recipe works just as well with lemon, lime, and grapefruit peel. Pack up a bunch plain, or dip them halfway (or all the way) in bittersweet chocolate.

Candied Orange Peel

8. Walnut Butter Ball Cookies

This is my version of Mexican Wedding cakes. They’re buttery, crumbly, and sweet. Definitely one of my favorite cookies to make around Christmas.

Walnut Butter Ball Cookies

9. Homemade Peanut Butter & S�mores Cups

Um, yum! (Need I say more?)

Homemade Peanut Butter & S�mores Cups

10. Pomegranate Mollasses

This stuff has been popping up everywhere lately. It’s sweet and tangy and is a great way to boost flavor in everything from appetizers to baked goods. And? It’s super easy to make at home. It makes a great gift for anyone who likes to cook.

Pomegranate Mollases

11. Easy Dark Chocolate & Walnut Fudge

This is the easiest fudge I’ve ever made.

Easy Dark Chocolate & Walnut Fudge

12. Quick Fresh Pickles

Pickles? For Christmas? Are you serious? No, really. (Stop laughing!)

It’s going to sound silly, but this is one of my signature things to bring to a party. Folks really love ’em.

The best part? These pickles don’t need to be canned. They just need to soak overnight in an herb-laced, briny bath. Here’s a variation for Classic Bread & Butter Pickles. If you can’t find pickling cukes, just use small, regular cucumbers.

Quick Fresh Pickles

Happy holidays!

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

10 COMMENTS

  1. This is your idea of not being on top of the holidays? I may tackle the marshmallows for New Year's. Hope you're having a great week!
  2. This is a great list! The walnut fudge was super easy! it took hardly any time at all, and the scraps I had after packaging were quickly scarfed down! Thanks so much :)
  3. Congratulations on your nomination for best food blog in "The Homies 2009" at Apartment Therapy, Jessie! Anyone wanting to vote for you can use this link: http://homies.apartmenttherapy.com/2009/category/home-cooking Good luck! I really hope you win. (Just noticed there's another Dani, so I'll use Dani H for now on.)
  4. Thanks! We're going to my husband's sister's for Christmas Eve, and I haven't picked up a gift yet. Since we're going to be snowed in for a day or two, our boys & I could easily make one or more of these. Happy holidays!
  5. They all look so good! I'm making the vanilla extract (started in November). Have you tried using the same method for pomegranate with balsamic vinegar to make vinegar glaze? It's so good.

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