The Ultimate Edible Gift List (or: Give the Gift of Not Starving for Christmas)

I used to be on the fence about giving people homemade food and baked goods for Christmas. It seemed like a bit of a cop-out, an easy way to provide gifts for a lot of people at once, and something about a bulk present seemed kind of cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved receiving food as gifts, but for some reason was always hesitant about giving it.

Fast forward to me as a bill-paying, relatively broke 30-year-old who loves food more than most other things, and I can safely say that my former opinion is bullshit. Here’s why: if people love something you make, they don’t care how many goddamn people you make it for, as long as they get some. Also, I am now aware that if you make a huge quantity of something to give out for Christmas, it’s not easy, and it’s not exactly cheap, either. And that’s okay! It’s Christmas! If there’s ever a time for edible extravagance, it’s now.

That being said, some edible gifts are better for everyone than others. I’m not talking health-wise, but in terms of portability and universal appreciation. For example: cupcakes are delicious and everyone loves them, but they’re not easy to transport in a gift box and they’re best eaten within a couple of days, so it’s probably not a great idea to make a huge batch of them for the family you’re seeing in a week and a half. However, there are a bunch of foods and desserts (and not just cookies, but those are great too) that travel well and keep for a long time that will be much appreciated by everyone on your list. Here are a few time-tested, recipient-approved ideas.

Chocolate Bark

You really can’t go wrong with this. The possibilities are endless: you can use milk, dark, or white chocolate; flavor it with fruit, nuts, and candy; and mix it up between old favorites and something new and bold. It’s pretty easy, but the chocolate lovers in your life will appreciate it all the same. Huffington Post has an extensive list of ideas here.

Homemade Tomato Sauce and Meatballs

No, don’t just pour hot tomato sauce into some tupperware and bring it to your aunt’s. Make this tomato sauce, pair it with these amazing turkey meatballs I’ve made a zillion times and never bothered to write about because I’m a bad food blogger, pour it into desired serving-size containers, freeze them, and then, right before you’re supposed to head out to your nearest relative’s Christmas event, put individual servings in a fancy holiday gift bag along with some ritzy pasta. You just made dinner for your relatives without needing to invite them over, clean up after them, and listen to them talk about that time you peed your pants in public when you were a little kid.

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Fudge

Fudge is a great gift because you can cut squares of it and fit it perfectly into that holiday box that is aggravatingly sized. Oh, right, and it’s delicious and keeps at room temperature or refrigerated. Here’s a list of recipes from the Food Network, and  a classic and straightforward chocolate fudge recipe here.

Granola Bars

Wait…say what? It’s true. My culinary crush, Alton Brown, has an awesome recipe for making your own granola bars (don’t forget to check out the accompanying video), and let’s be real, we all have that one health nut in our lives who side-eyes their growing collection of Christmas cookies before giving them away at work or school because they have more self-restraint than the rest of humanity. They’ll probably really appreciate it when you give them a tin that looks like it should contain more cookies, but has some homemade granola bars in there instead!

So there are a few ideas for you. Keep in mind that presentation is important too, and definitely about half the fun, so come up with some cool ways to package your food (Pinterest is good for that kind of thing, as irritating as that platform can be sometimes).

Remember, food gifts spare you the agony of having to make decisions like this one:

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Do you have any portable recipes that are a hit for gift-giving? Let me know in the comments!

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