'Tis the Season for DIY Holiday Gift Baskets


This past weekend, I attended a friend’s outdoor winter wedding cocktail party. For a gift, I wanted to do something that was more personal than a purchase from her registry. Since the bride loves food and cooking, I thought of making her a few homemade specialty sauces and toppings. I included a jar of fried garlic because it’s an essential Cambodian ingredient that would give the gift an extra personal touch. Then I made harissa for the first time ever. I had introduced my friend to this Moroccan chili paste over a year ago and I remembered she really liked it. I had a little leftover for myself and loved my creation! I will definitely be making more of this for myself in the future. It’s a great topping on meats, fish, shrimp, veggies, eggs—basically everything! I also tried making tomato confit after being inspired by a random Instagram post. This was probably my favorite new recipe to make! You can serve it over pasta or on top of a crostini (maybe paired with herbed goat cheese), as well as over meats and veggies. I felt like the basket needed one more homemade specialty item, so I decided to make olive tapenade at the last minute after watching a character on Black Mirror make it during an episode. It’s amazing where you can randomly find inspiration!

For the finishing touch to my gift basket, I included a bottle of bubbles and a scented candle, and then sprinkled in pieces of chocolate. I got the basket from World Market. The gift basket kit included raffia stuffing, clear plastic wrap, and a gift tag. I lined the basket with additional colored tissue paper and then added crumbled up packaging paper underneath the raffia stuffing to add more cushion to prop up the gifts.

This was such a fun gift to make! All the toppings/sauces were also very simple to create. I had my own labels printed at Vistaprint and bought jars from The Container Store. You can make your basket as fancy or as simple as you want. Here are some more ideas for homemade specialty items: hummus, eggplant or roasted red pepper dip, pesto, chimichurri sauce, pickles, jam, freshly ground chili powder, fig spread, or salsa. I tend to prefer savory over sweet but I really like the idea of a fig spread with goat cheese and honey on a cracker. In addition to your homemade specialty items, you can include wine, candles, a fancy giant matchbox, chocolate, crackers, truffle salt, truffle oil, or salami. I hope my post has inspired you. Happy Gift Basket Making!