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5 Beautiful Homemade Holiday Gifts

Hannah Howard

If you can’t find the perfect gift, make it. Giving the gift of deliciousness is a fail-safe plan: everyone loves unwrapping something tasty. Edible/imbibe-able treats are a thoughtful, elegant present that won’t break the bank or end up in the “return” or “donate” heap. Here are five simple, lovely beauties. Don’t forget to make extra for you.

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Coconut Milk Dulce de Leche

Silky, creamy decadence with a mellow cocnutty twist. You and the lucky recipients can spoon this over ice cream, brownies, and use as a dip for crunchy apple slices.

Makes: 2 gifts.

You’ll need:

2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Combine coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt, and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Let mixture come to a boil and stir occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the dulce de leche is reduced to half its original volume. Pour into pretty mason jars. Let cool, then cover and chill. Tie with a ribbon and…voila, your gift is ready! It’s that simple.


Vanilla Infused Vodka

It’ll take you five minutes to prepare a charming, beautiful presentation of booze. Cheers to that!

Makes: 2 gifts (1 liter in all)

You’ll need:
 1 liter vodka 5 vanilla beans glass bottles with tight seals

Divvy up the vodka and vanilla among your bottles. Over time, the flavor will intensify. Tell the recipient to remove the vanilla beans after about 10 days; the vanilla vodka will be great refrigerated for about two months.


Spiked Olives

Snackable olives dressed up in boozy holiday style. Perfect for serving alongside martinis.

Makes: 1 gift

You’ll need:

20 each red and green Cerignola olives 1 1/2 cups gin 1/4 cup dry vermouth Strips of lemon zest from 1 lemon, yellow part only 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 cup water

Combine ingredients in a large jar. Cover; shake well and refrigerate. These are great after several hours, and stay fresh for about two weeks.


Semisweet Chocolate Pretzels

Salty and sweet and irresistible.

Makes: 2 gifts

You’ll need: 8 ounces semisweet chocolate 18 pretzel rods

Break chocolate into pieces, and microwave in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until chocolate is just melted. Stir until chocolate is smooth.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper.Roll each pretzel end into melted chocolate, using a spoon to help coat each rod about ¾ of the way up. Set pretzels on your baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Give in a waz-paper lined box, tied with a festive ribbon.


Maple Bourbon Bacon Caramel Corn

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Finally, the grande finale. Nearly everything good finds its way into this addictive caramel corn and it’s always a crowd pleaser. (You’re welcome).

Makes: 2 gifts

You’ll need:

5 quarts freshly air-popped popcorn ½-1 lb thick cut bacon chopped, fried to just about crispy and well drained 1 cup butter, unsalted 2 cups golden brow sugar 1/2 cup maple syrup 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3 ounces bourbon

Preheat your oven to 250º.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar, maple syrup and salt. Stir until the mixture begins to boil. Lower heat and let simmer for five minutes.

Remove from heat and add the baking soda and bourbon, stirring to combine thoroughly.

Divide the popcorn into greased roasting pans. Toss to coat popcorn with caramel and bacon. Bake for an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes.

Remove the caramel corn from the oven and spread onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Let cool completely. Break any chunks into pieces, then package in jars for gorgeous gifting.

Happy, delicious holidays to you and yours!


Hannah Howard, journalist, copywriter, marketing strategist and food expert, has written for The New York Times, AMEX OPEN forum, Serious Eats, Grubstreet, Refinery29, and oyster.com.

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