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Holiday Gifts That Keep on Giving

Edible presents: thoughtful and personal

During the holiday season, the list of gifts to give can grow quickly; finding something personal and thoughtful for everyone from neighbors to acquaintances can be overwhelming, time-consuming and expensive. While we always appreciate the spirit of a gift, a haul of scented candles, coffee-table books and other trinkets may unwittingly contribute to unnecessary clutter.

Edible gifts provide an ideal solution to many aspects of this conundrum. A loaf of homemade quickbread or a box of homemade candies are perfect to bring to a holiday party, planted firmly in gift territory with some simple and elegant packaging. Pair a batch of freshly baked cookies with a box of tea for a present anyone on your list is sure to enjoy, or offer up a jar of pancake mix with some maple syrup for a gift that keeps on giving.

Preserved foods both sweet and savory, like jellies, chutneys and conserves, are great for those who live alone or couples unlikely to make it through a family-sized serving of baked goods. Candied and spiced nuts are perfect as a hostess gift, an excellent addition to a spread of party food without interrupting a planned dessert.

Making edible gifts is a fantastic way to show you care without breaking the bank. If you're familiar with the recipients' tastes and favorite ingredients, you can surprise everyone on your list with a customized present that they're sure to appreciate.

Quickbreads:

Cranberry Nut Bread by Maxine Effenson-Chuck and Beth Gurney

Coconut and Raisin Loaves by Eric V. Copage

Candy:

Almond Roca by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger

Chocolate Crisps by Lauren Groveman

Heavenly Hash by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel

Mixed-Nut Butter-Crunch Toffee by Lauren Groveman

Nuts:

Candied Cinnamon Walnuts by Sharon Crayton

Ginger Spiced Walnuts by Robin Robertson

Sugar-and-Spice Nuts by Sheila Lukins

Cookies:

Honey Holiday Cookies by Michele Urvater

Christmas Decorations by Nigella Lawson

Gingerbread Men by Tina Davis

Jams & jellies:

Apple Cider Jelly by Jonathan King, Kathy Gunst and Jim Stott

Apple and Pear Chutney by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner

Orange Marmalade by Marion Cunningham

Savory preserves:

Marinated Sun-Dried Tomatoes by Linda Zimmerman

Black Radish and Onion Conserve by Mimi Sheraton

Green Tomato Chutney by Victoria Wise

Breakfast treats:

Granola by Jamie Oliver

Toasted Sesame Multigrain Pancake Mix by Crescent Dragonwagon

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