It’s been said, that it’s better to give than receive. An adage I often considered highly suspect. Because, if we’re being honest here, it feels damn good to get, right?

But this time of year, we all relent a little. It could be the weather–nothing puts me in a good mood faster than a lovely blizzard. Perhaps it’s looking back upon the year that makes us thankful for the people in our lives. (Or for the evil among us, the satisfaction of blowing people away with our mad cooking skills.)

Whatever the reason, giving food gifts–specifically ones you’ve made–is a grand gesture and an even grander tradition of the season.

P.S. If you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas, well, any of these lovelies below will suffice. I’ll send you my address.

Happy holidays!

The word "David" written in script.
A two-tiered platter with rum balls on each tier.
Andrew Scrivani
1 of 6

Rum Balls

These gorgeous rum balls, made with walnuts, chocolate, confectioners’ sugar, and butter, are a Southern classic. A lovely homemade Christmas gift.

These rum balls were so good! In fact, it was hard not to eat them all at once. I made mine with walnuts and rum per the recipe. So delicious, almost like fudge rather than a cookie.

A stack of star-shaped cutout classic shortbread cookies, lightly dusted with sugar, and a brown takeout container and a gift tag.
Lara Holmes
2 of 6

Classic Shortbread Cookies

These classic shortbread cookies are made with just 5 ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt. A simple, perfect approach to a beloved Scottish tradition that’s a perfect Christmas cookie.
A tumbler half-filled with homemade Irish cream and an ice cube, and a bottle of cream in the background.
Ryland Peters & Small
3 of 6

Homemade Irish Cream

This homemade Irish cream recipe is an easy homemade Baileys Irish cream that you can make at home with whiskey, coffee, heavy cream, milk, cacao, sugar, and the luck of the Irish. Tastes just like the store-bought stuff. Cheers.
A decorative white plate filled with irregular pieces of candy cane bark.
Sally McKenney
4 of 6

Candy Cane Bark Recipe

This festive candy cane bark is made with chocolate, crushed peppermint candies, and lotsa love. A beloved food gift that's quick and easy, too. You can whip it up in no time…perhaps for those special website editors you forgot to add to your list. (A-hem!)
Bowl of yellow lemon curd, whisk, stick of butter, egg shells, halved lemons.
Sara Remington
5 of 6

Meyer Lemon Curd

Just try to resist eating this Meyer lemon curd from the jar with a spoon! Pack the lemon curd into jars for gift giving, but save a jar for yourself and spread it on toasted brioche or warm-from-the-oven scones.

I’ve made this Meyer lemon curd recipe five times last Christmas for gifting purposes. Incredibly great recipe!!!

A bottle half-filled with vanilla syrup and a couple vanilla beans inside. A cork rests beside the bottle.
Michaela Jebb
6 of 6

Vanilla Syrup

This vanilla syrup, made with vanilla beans, sugar, and water, works magnificently for pancakes, coffee, cakes, cocktails, and so many other uses. And just think of all the time and money you’ll save by making your own vanilla lattes.


Who should I give homemade food gifts to?

Most people enjoy receiving homemade food gifts, so they’re a great option for hostess gifts or holiday giving among co-workers, friends, or your kids’ teachers.

Do I need to include a list of ingredients with my food gifts?

Ideally, yes. Especially if you’re unsure of any dietary restrictions of the benefactor of your generosity. List them on the back of your gift tag or make stickers to attach to the bags or bottles.

How can I combine several homemade food gifts into something more substantial?

Make themed collections to share with friends and families. Some suggestions include:

* Holiday Breakfast–Include waffle or pancake mix, homemade blueberry syrup, hot cocoa mix, and a bottle of homemade Irish cream.

* Family movie night–Include maple caramel corn, sweet and spicy roasted nuts, and peppermint bark.

Homemade food gifts are a joy to receive, particularly if it’s something that the recipient truly delights in. Take some time to think about whom you’re giving to and what they love. It’ll make parting with these DIY food gifts as pleasurable as receiving them.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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