As I’ve grown older, giving remains my favorite part about the holidays. But each year I’m overwhelmed by the pressure to “BUY! BUY! BUY!” in excess for every person on my list.
In the season of giving, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude for all the people in my life who bring joy and strength to our family year-round: colleagues, teachers, neighbors, babysitters, and friends.
So for the last few years I’ve stopped buying coffee cards and warm, wooly socks. Instead my children have helped me make delicious gifts – from the ideation, to securing the ingredients and planning the steps, to decorating labels, and cooking and creating the final gift. Yes, it's way more time consuming, but the greatest gift you can give someone is from the heart. Bonus points when it’s homemade. Extra bonus points when it’s from the kitchen.
Tips for involving your kids in edible gift giving:
- Brainstorm together. Generate a list of people for whom you’d like to make a gift. Then, plan to make extra, because you’ll always remember someone else! Decide what you'd like to make -- see below for our favorites!
- Be creative with jars and labels. Usually, homemade gifts are less expensive (but definitely more time consuming!) than store-bought. Ikea, restaurant-supply stores, and craft stores all have a great selection of jars, bags, ribbons, and labels. You can also up-cycle used jam and sauce jars from your own kitchen. Construction paper and brown paper grocery bags can be used to make homemade labels.
- It doesn’t need to be Pinterest perfect to be heartfelt and homemade! A 5 year-old’s phonetically spelled gift tag for his piano teacher might be more charming than your perfectly penned label.
- Start early and know your child’s limits: making 35 jars of spiced nuts gets repetitive. It’s okay if your kids tire after the 4th Or if they only help you with one part of the whole process, like filling jars or tying bows.
Favorite recipes to make and give together:
- Hot Cocoa Mix: Mix together 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup fine sugar, 3 tablespoons powdered milk, and 3 ounces of grated or finely chopped dark chocolate. On a gift label, share serving instructions: stir 2-3 tablespoons of mix into 1 cup of steaming hot milk.
- Rosemary Infused Olive Oil: This simple gift looks beautiful too. Fill a thin jar with fresh rosemary sprigs, a few cloves of garlic, and a slice of lemon peel. Be sure to store this fresh oil in the fridge.
- Delicious Dipping: Kids and parents agree: nothing is more fun or decadent than dipping (anything!) into melted dark chocolate. Try pretzels, cookies, or even plastic spoons (to stir into coffee). Before the chocolate sets, top with festive sprinkles or crushed candy canes.
- Mexican Wedding Cookies: These adorable cookies are fun and easy to make. Kids love rolling them through mounds of soft powdered sugar. The best part is just one batch yields about 4 dozen cookies. Find our delicious recipe here.
- Gingerbread Pancake Mix: Your kids will love layering, measuring, and the aromatic flavors of this delicious gift! In a large Mason jar, layer 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of whole-wheat flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. On the top, sprinkle the gingerbread seasoning: 2 teaspoons of ginger and 1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. On a gift label, write the cooking instructions: Stir 2 eggs and 2 cups of milk into pancake mix. Cook on a hot griddle.
- Flavored Salts: Bake kosher salt with your favorite fresh herbs and seasonings, like lemon peel, garlic and thyme. Spoon into tiny glass jars and decorate with stamped labels and bakers’ twine.
Here’s to a season filled with delicious memory making with your kids, and child-driven gifting from heart to stomach!
Raddish is a monthly cooking club for kids! Created with a mission of bringing families together in the kitchen and at the table, each monthly thematic cooking kit takes the guesswork out of cooking with kids while creating delicious kitchen memories along the way. Raddish is designed by a team of educators and chefs who believe the kitchen classroom is the tastiest place to learn.
A variation of this article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2014 Homeschool Enrichment Magazine.