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.
Cranberry Nut Bread by Maxine Effenson-Chuck and Beth Gurney
Coconut and Raisin Loaves by Eric V. Copage
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
Candied Cinnamon Walnuts by Sharon Crayton
Ginger Spiced Walnuts by Robin Robertson
Sugar-and-Spice Nuts by Sheila Lukins
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
Marinated Sun-Dried Tomatoes by Linda Zimmerman
Black Radish and Onion Conserve by Mimi Sheraton
Green Tomato Chutney by Victoria Wise
Granola by Jamie Oliver
Toasted Sesame Multigrain Pancake Mix by Crescent Dragonwagon