Easy Last-Minute Gifts from the Kitchen

It happens every year – I start in mid-November, noticing all these magnificent new recipes I’m going to try and make to give as gifts right away the day after Thanksgiving, getting it all planned out to have that taken care of weeks before Christmas.  And then, you know, life happens…. and suddenly it’s just days left until Christmas and I need to hurry up and get this thing done!

Giving homemade gifts is my favorite because I feel like it’s so much more thoughtful and personal than store-bought gifts.  I also like to keep my goodies on the healthier side, and I feel like that gives my friends and family a happy little break from the overly sweet, regretfully indulgent treats so commonly shared at this time of year.  So what do I do when I don’t want to give in to a last-minute shopping frenzy but the clock is ticking down the minutes until the big day?! I give in to yet another year of resisting the urge to try 10 new recipes and fall back on these – my tried-and-true, no fail recipes.  It’s easy to mix it up with a different presentation so it doesn’t get boring, for the giver or the getters!

Honey Cinnamon Flax Granola ~ Honestly, it took me longer to make the fruit-yogurt-granola parfait recipe cards (sign up below to get yours!) than to throw together this delicious, heavenly-scented granola that’s also sooooo good on top of vanilla frozen yogurt with a drizzle of chocolate sauce!  Bonus: This recipe is included in my e-book ‘Eat to Beat Stress: 10 Superfoods to Prevent Major Symptoms of Stress’ which I’m offering as a free gift here.

Granola gift bags 200 px

For this presentation, I used simple cellophane party goodie bags you can find at the dollar store or in the party/gift wrapping section (at stores like Target, Walmart, or K-mart) and tied off with simple shiny ribbon.

Get your printable gift tags:

Whole Grain Baking Mix
~ Versatility is key with this gift that keeps on giving. (Get the mix recipe plus free printable baking mix and pancake recipe cards here – sign up to get your recipe cards e-mailed right away!). 

This gift makes it easy for your friends or family to enjoy a quick and wholesome homemade Christmas breakfast.  Use the goodie bags as mentioned with the granola, or a mason jar with decorative ribbon is also a fun way to wrap it up! You could also send the mix along with the cookbook, so they can try all of the different pancake & muffin recipes. This is a great gift for families with kids who love baked goods or enjoy helping in the kitchen!

Get your copy of the cookbook here!

ebook cover #3 200 x 300
Hot Cocoa Mix
~ Most store-bought mixes and prepackaged cocoa gift packs are loaded with hydrogenated oils and corn syrup… no good!  A few years ago, I came across this homemade hot cocoa mix recipe from Cook’s Illustrated and I’ll never go back to pre-made again. This recipe is so easy, and it warms up velvety smooth. I’ve noted the slight adaptations I’ve made for my version that keeps out hydrogenated oils and keeps the ingredients list simple.

 In years past, I’d found snowman-shaped jars at Bed, Bath & Beyond and used those, with crushed candy canes or marshmallows loaded into the hat portion.  I’ve seen Christmas-tree shaped jars also, or you could use a mason jar.  Another fun way to give this is in a festive tin, which you can find at any craft store.

Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe (makes 20 servings – I use this for about 4 gift bags)
3 c. nonfat dried milk
2 c. confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1-1/2 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Dark unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 c. white chocolate chips (it takes a little extra time, but I use white Baker’s
chocolate squares and chop them up because it’s the only kind of white
chocolate I’ve found that does not include hydrogenate oils.
ONE 6-oz. package = approx. 1-1/4 c. chopped

Combine ingredients in large bowl. Working in two batches, pulse ingredients in food processor until chocolate is finely ground.  Store in airtight container for up to 3 months.  To make hot cocoa, stir 1/3 c. of this mix into 1 c. of hot milk (or almond milk).  Top with whipped cream or mini marshmallows.

When giving this as a gift, don’t forget to include a tag with instructions for making the cocoa!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Balls ~ Packed with protein, fiber & multiple other nutrients, these are delicious and fun enough to be considered an indulgent treat.  Line a decorative tin with wax paper and place cookie balls in layers to give these bite-sized melt-in-your-mouth bits of wholesome goodness.  Get the recipe here!

PB cookie balls

Do you have a favorite healthier Christmas treat you like to give or receive? Please tell us about it in the comments below!

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