Some of my favourite memories of being in the kitchen are those of making edible gifts for the holidays. As a teenager, some of my go-to recipes included almond bark, chocolate truffles and shortbread cookies. I would head to the bulk store to pick out ingredients (which my parents most likely paid for) and then hit up a dollar store to pick out pretty ribbon and packaging. I'd spend an afternoon carefully creating and crafting delicious little packages for friends and family. I did that for many years and people were always excited to receive those homemade gifts. It was that gratitude and expression on people's faces when they received these gifts that got me hooked on cooking. I loved the instant gratification of making someone happy with the food I'd crafted with my own hands. Then somewhere along the way things changed -- I had babies got busy and just didn't make time to create these edible gifts. However, every year when the holidays roll around, the memory of making these gifts always creeps into the back of my mind. This year the nostalgia was too much to handle and I decided to make time to be creative and make some gifts from the kitchen. Let me tell you, it was the best decision I could have made and here's why:
Time to slow down: Setting aside time for this task actually gave me a sense of having more time. It gifted me space in my week to be creative and brought back the enjoyment of gift giving. During a season that can be highly stressful, I fully embrace any activity that allows me to actually find joy in the season.
Everyone got involved: I was making these gifts on a Saturday night and my youngest son (Stowe, who is 16) decided to pitch in. He weighed and measured ingredients and we had a great chat. My husband now has the title of head label designer, as his contribution was making the labels for all the gifts (and taste testing all of the recipes, of course). The older I get, the more important these moments become.
The reminder that cost doesn't matter: Homemade gifts can be either cost-effective OR extravagant. Some of the gifts I made this year cost pennies to make, while others were $15 dollars for a small jar. It really is the thought that counts, and you can decide how little or how much you want to spend. Taking time to create a gift from scratch always means so much more.
The gifts are so special: I know giving cards from coffee shops and liquor stores is easy but it's so impersonal. These edible gifts are a unique (and tasty!) way to acknowledge someone in your life.
In the end my friends and family will be lucky recipients of some stellar and tasty gifts, but I reaped the benefits of carving out the time to be creative and make some holiday gifts from the kitchen, too.