Each year I dole out holiday gifts made in my kitchen. Homemade granola packaged all pretty, a plethora of jams and jellies, hand-picked and labeled bay leaves and dried (from my garden) herb mixes. I almost always make too many cookies, loads of peppermint bark, and if people are lucky: limoncello, eggnog or other inspired liqueur.
Instead of spending tons of money on gifts, I spend my time creating goodies in my kitchen. Vanilla extract is a perfect gift! The trick is: it needs to hang out in the jars for a few months to develop its color and flavor. Even though Christmas is just around the corner, you can still gift your friends and family 'vanilla extract' this year in the form of a DIY kit. (And while you are at it, make some for your own kitchen so in a few months you have your own vanilla extract!).
Get a fun little basket or container and fill it with: a jar or packet of vanilla beans (Costco sells them for less, as do bulk bins at your market). Label them. Add a fancy jar and lid to make the vanilla extract in and a bottle of vodka. Write up instructions for making your own vanilla extract using the recipe below, and tuck into basket. Add cellophane and ribbon, cute labels and a friendly message. People will love knowing how to make their own vanilla extract!
Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe
In a bottle: add a dozen vanilla beans and fill with vodka. Cork and let sit for a at least month; I sometimes add 1-2 T of dark rum to add color. Also: you can use the soaked vanilla beans later for cooking/baking. Vanilla extract keeps for years and years—just keep adding vanilla beans and topping it off with vodka. (Or next year: simply decant into small bottles and give as little gifts).
Other Holiday Gift Ideas
- Brownie making kit in a jar
- Pasta making kit (with recipes)
- Seeds culled from your own seed-saving/garden (I am giving arugula, fennel and nasturtium seeds this year)
- Truffle popcorn making kit (I gave this last year)
- Homemade marshmallows
- Homemade chocolate-coated spoons (to stir hot chocolate or coffee)
- Christmas cookies
- DIY vinegar making kit
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