I prefer beating the holiday rush by avoiding going to the malls because it seems like they could offer only two choices: expensive fancy stuff or inexpensive generic stuff. I plan to keep it smart and simple by baking and cooking homemade food gifts.
Making my own gifts means I get to save time and energy. One might argue that cooking and baking take forever and too much effort. I think it’s more grueling to drive to the mall, find a parking spot, roam from one crowded store to another, then report to a seemingly endless line at the checkout. I rather be at the comfort of my home, listening to my favorite playlist, and taking my own sweet pace.
I also get to save more money with homemade gifts because one recipe goes to two gift recipients -or more depending on the serving size.
And generic, thoughtless gifts? Forget it. Homemade gifts are one of the most thoughtful gifts you could give to your loved ones. After all, it’s the thought that counts!
1. PERSIMMON COOKIES IN UPCYCLED JAR
Persimmons are in season here in the US and are growing so bountiful that I didn’t even need to buy them at the market. Family and friends that have persimmon trees keep giving me bags of persimmons from their overflowing tree. I never get tired eating the fruit because they are sweet as a candy and juicy as a peach especially when very ripe. If you don’t have any persimmon harvests, I’m sure you could find them at an affordable price at your local markets.
The persimmon cookies came out soft, chewy, and sweet. I got the recipe from the site, My Eclectic Kitchen. If you really don’t have the time to bake it (or don’t feel confident baking or don’t have an oven at home), then simply print out the recipe and gather all the ingredients and give them as a cookie kit.
THE GIFT WRAP:
As for the gift wrap, I simply re-used and upcycled a candle jar.
To remove the leftover candle from the jar, I put it in the freezer for at least four hours. You may also do this overnight. Using a small knife, I lightly stabbed the leftover candle to divide it into pieces then picked out the broken candle pieces and washed off all the wax contents. I suggest using a strong dishwashing liquid to scrub off and clean the container.
I thoroughly washed the lid too. My candle lid had a brand name etched on it so I hid the brand name by using a decorative tape I got from Daiso. I simply taped all over the lid and along the sides. This step didn’t need complicated measurements or procedure. Because the tape’s design pattern was not for Christmas, I also put a red holiday ribbon on top of the lid.
2. CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES IN UPCYCLED JAR
This recipe is ridiculously easy and very hard to mess up. I had so much fun making these and playing with my favorite truffle coating like coconut, toasted almonds, and cocoa powder. Next time, I’d also like to use pistachios, chocolate syrup, and many more.
You could shape these truffles any way you want – flat bottom, sphere, big, bite size, or even heart-shaped.
You could check the recipe from my earlier post: Vegan Chocolate Truffles.
THE GIFT WRAP:
I simply re-used and upcycled an empty jar. Just like the persimmon cookies, I also thoroughly washed the jar and its lid.
Conveniently, the lid didn’t have any markings, labels, or anything written on it so there was no need to tape it over.
To put a holiday touch to the gift, I placed a red ribbon on top. I bought the ribbons in bulk at a nearby convenience store.
THE COCONUT PIE OR “BUKO PIE”:
I’ve featured this recipe on my YouTube show, Astig Vegan Cooking. The recipe is super simple and does not need any special handling, kneading, or other delicate baking procedure. Just make sure that the water is very cold and the rest will be easy.
THE GIFT WRAP:
I used single pie pans so I could maximize my budget. The recipe is good for four mini pie pans. But if you plan to give this dish to a couple or a family to share, you could use the recipe as one serving using a 5-inch pan. I got the mini pie pans on Amazon but I’m sure you could also get them at big stores like Smart and Final or Safeway.
To package it, I used a Saran plastic wrap that I already have in my pantry and tied it using a red ribbon that I also found around the house.
4. VEGAN RICE BIBINGKA CAKES IN TIN CONTAINER
I make Bibingka every time there’s a special occasion. Recently, I’ve baked some for a baby shower and they were a hit! Now I’ll be making Bibingka as gifts for Christmas.
The recipe takes less than an hour to prepare and bake. It also yields plenty of servings especially if you use a muffin pan.
To make the Bibingka extra special, sprinkle some evaporated cane sugar and coconut shreds as toppings. You could get the full tutorial on my YouTube show, Astig Vegan Cooking.
THE GIFT WRAP:
There are plenty of ways to gift wrap these mini cakes but I went with a tin container that I got at Daiso. For presentation, I lined a sheet of parchment paper before placing the Bibingka cakes inside the tin.
Because I had the tin container a long time ago (I think it was meant for Valentines Day), it didn’t have a holiday look. It was colored red and white and had red hearts all over. I topped the tin container with a red ribbon and it instantly became more appropriate for Christmas .
If you don’t have a tin container in a similar holiday color scheme, you could either paint it white or glue on a decorative pattern paper. You could also use a basket or a nice glass bowl or container then wrap it in cellophane or plastic wrap.
To go with this blog post, I also have a quick video explaining what I’ve done:
The holiday shopping could be stressful year after year. Make it more enjoyable by making your own holiday gifts. You’d be surprised by how easy and even relaxing it could be. Have fun and happy holidays!