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Quick and easy homemade Christmas gifts

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Rachel Manley Rachel Manley | 11:07 UK time, Wednesday, 30 November 2011

This year more people than ever will be making their own Christmas presents and just like last year, I’ll be one of them. The last few days before Christmas, barring Christmas Eve are always quiet ones in our house. I’m going to put on the Christmas carols CD, sip on the sloe gin and get my bake on. Sweet treats are always going to be a winner at Christmas, when in my family at least, we barely stop eating.

The plan is to make presents that don’t require too much time, look great and will be gratefully received. I think packaging is where homemade presents can end up getting quite expensive so I save any leftovers jars and pretty gift bags or boxes throughout the year. If you’re not so well prepared, cellophane bags can be used to package almost anything - tie them with pretty ribbon and print some of our free gift tags to make them look extra special.

Download our food labels


Download our gift tags and labels for your edible gifts.

Gift labels

Christmas labels


If your friends and family haven’t made their own, a mini Christmas cake would make a sweet present. Bake a Christmas cake in a large square tin, cut into smaller squares to make mini cakes and just cover the top in marzipan and icing (I’ll be making Dan Lepard’s pecan marzipan this year). Dariole moulds also make neat mini-parkins or Christmas puddings.

And I don’t know anyone who could resist these adorable Christmas cupcakes. Either wrap individual cakes in cellophane bags tied with Christmas ribbon or splash out on special cupcake boxes. Don’t forget to get kids, partners and family members involved too. For me, the whole charm of homemade presents is that they don’t look too perfect. These retro peppermint creams are fun to make with children or try Nigel Slater’s grown-up chocolates.

Reindeer Christmas cupcakes

Almondy mince pies, chocolate truffles and Sophie Dahl’s easy peasy peanut butter fudge are all on my list too. Check out our Christmas baking collection for even more ideas.

If your family doesn’t have such a sweet tooth, then it’s not too late to cook up a batch of chilli jam - it takes no time to make and is delicious with Christmas leftovers (try it on a turkey sandwich), or as a grown up alternative to ketchup. Remember to include serving suggestions on the labels too. If you’ve got some leftover jars (I’m not sure I would buy new jars to do this, seems to defeat the object), then this homemade beer mustard is a cinch to make, and another great accompaniment to Christmas leftovers. Package it up with a bottle of the beer you use for the mustard and some local cheese and biscuits for a quick and easy hamper.

Homemade beer mustard takes no time to make

For more inspiration, try our collection of homemade Christmas present ideas.

What will you be making this year? Do you have all your chutneys made by September or will you be doing some last-minute baking like me?


  • Comment number 1.

    A few of my friends this year are getting a "savoury set of three" - a jar of quince jelly, a jar of winter spice jelly, and a jar of onion marmalade. I am also now tempted by your chilli jam recipe to make it a set of four!

  • Comment number 2.

    This year I'm including strawberry jam (done), apple chilli jelly (done), Nigella's beetroot chutney (done), jammie dodgers and mini-stollen. Maybe Nigel's sea salt chocolate snaps if I can find any crystallised rose petals...

    Have done mustard in the past. It's so easy - and unlikely to stay in the fridge for a year.

  • Comment number 3.

    My student daughter got a hamper as a gift and to last into the new year I put in jars with ingredients for a home made soup just (just add fresh vegetables and water), They had layers of pulses (barley, red lentils, dried and split peas), dried onions, stock cube crumbled (intl the layer of dried onion. Instructions on the lable and a wooden spoon tied as part of the wrapping. Cookie ingredients can be done the same, looks very pretty and a handy thing to make last into the new year unlike fresh pies, cakes, etc.
    Love to put aside the best looking jams, pickles, preserves, flavoured vinegars and bottles of flavoured alcohol (stained from fruits in brandy, vodka, gin etc and the fruit is great on ice cream) or items like brandied peaches, spiced oranges, pickled pears and mincemeat are fantastic for this and all made during the year and just put aside. Saves loads of hassle when other things are on your mind when getting to Christmas.
    Using small tins to make individual Christmas and other cakes is a handy hint I was given on the Wildfood board. Some people use baked bean tins I use the tin from some old Heinz sponge puddings.

  • Comment number 4.

    I especially like the gift labels and will use them to pimp up my last minute homemade biscotti and christmas cookies with festive flavours in cellophane sealed bags. Thanks Rachel.

  • Comment number 5.

    Tried the homemade beer mustard - dreadful result, threw it all away. Tasted awful and was the consistency of a glass of beer, with added lumps. Waste of time, effort and money!

  • Comment number 6.

    @Fircone Oh no! Sorry to hear that the recipe didn't work you. All of our recipes are tested and we work really hard to make sure they work. I'll test this recipe again today to check it works.

    @Annie I love the idea of the soup jar! I wish my mum had given me something similar while I was at university.

  • Comment number 7.

    @Fircone I tested this recipe last night and it worked well for me (another present ticked off the list!). It's difficult to offer advice as I don't know exactly how you made it, but I did find that although the seeds soften overnight in the beer, you need to blend them for quite a while to get a creamy mustard consistency. Also, if the beer flavour is too strong, you could try adding some more honey, to taste.

  • Comment number 8.

    The best homemade Christmas gift is for me still a mixed tape or playlist given as a USB stick or on CD with a pretty cover. If you want to make it even more special, collect songs that not everyone knows, like these 16 wonderful tunes by singer-songwriters. Hope you like the idea.


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