As the holidays start to sneak up on us, we have been pulling together some of our favorite homemade gifts. All of which happen to be plastic-free, zero waste, edible (because food!). Bonus, they are all delicious and help cut down on both the plastic you and your loved ones are exposed to, plus how much ends up in the environment. Not to mention they look really awesome and a homemade gift is a unique way to show you really care. One more benefit, you can pull them together super last minute, get pretty much everything you need at the grocery store (most of it in bulk even) and avoid the heinous parking scene at the mall.
Hot Chocolate Mix
Not only does it taste way better than those packets of hot coco mix that you get at the grocery store, but it's also one of the easiest presents on the list. Mix 2 cups powdered sugar with 1 cup of cocoa powder, 2 cups of nonfat dry milk powder, and a pinch of salt. There are a bunch of other recipes on the internet for homemade hot chocolate, but that is really the simplest of them. You can find ones that make Mexican hot chocolate with a kick, or ones that don't include the dried milk so they are vegan/lactose intolerant friendly. Then, put your hot coco mix into a pretty glass jar and top with some chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, candy cane pieces, or other delicious add-ins. To make an even nicer gift, include a couple of mugs or even a travel mug so they can enjoy the hot chocolate whenever they want without any plastic. Easy, delicious, and thoughtful = perfect gift.
Who doesn't love a freshly baked cookie? I think only monsters. While gifting homemade cookies is a lovely gift, it's not the same as being able to eat the fresh cookies straight out of the oven. So, if you are thinking of giving your friends or loved-ones cookies this year, consider giving them a jar of cookie mix instead so they can actually enjoy some ooey-gooey, warm cookies for themselves. And the effort for you is about the same. Instead of mixing up the batch of cookies and baking it (then wrapping it in plastic of some sort), put all of the dry ingredients layered nicely into a pretty, reusable, glass jar, then write up a little card explaining the directions. This works best for simple cookies that only require adding butter and eggs, stirring, and baking. But, your mix can be for whatever cookie is your favorite. A traditional chocolate chip cookie, a (vegan) double chocolate, or even a specialty holiday one like peppermint bark cookies. Usually, the flour ingredients go at the bottom of the jar, then the sugar, then the chocolate chips or other mix-ins. But, whatever works for you will be great. Just don't forget a tag that tells the recipient what they need to add and how long to bake the cookies. If you want to amp up the gift a bit more, you can even gift it with some non-toxic nonstick alternative baking gear, so they have everything they need to make the perfect batch of cookies whenever they feel like it.
This is one of our favorite gifts around the Because Health office. It's super easy to make, looks gorgeous, and is full of chocolate. You can also make it in special flavors you know your gift recipient will like. All you do is melt some chocolate, spread it on parchment paper, then sprinkle on the toppings and let it cool. Then you break it into shards and package it up. There are a gazillion recipes for all kinds of different flavor combinations online, but a couple of our favorites include dark chocolate with peppermint candy pieces, white chocolate with pistachios, dried cranberries and candied lemon, and milk chocolate with Reese's pieces, popcorn, and sprinkles (we call that one movie theater bark). If you make a couple of flavors, you can mix and match them layered in a glass jar or reusable container and it looks like a million bucks. Plus, who doesn't like chocolate?
Spiced or Candied Nuts
This is another great, big-batch gift. You can make a large amount of nuts all at once and knock out your gifts for the whole office in an afternoon. Plus, if you buy your nuts in bulk, it's completely plastic free from beginning to end (and often bulk nuts are less expensive than buying bags or cans of them from the shelves). The Spruce Eats has a collection of 10 different candied nut recipes so you can choose your favorite nut or flavor combo.
Okay, we get it, not everyone has quite as large a sweet tooth as we do. So, for those friends and family members who would rather have a savory treat, try putting together some soup mixes in a jar. They cook up soup-er (haha, get it?) quickly and are a hearty meal in a pinch. Plus, there are no cans that are potentially lined with BPA or any cartons to rinse out. You can find these dry ingredients in pretty much any grocery store (or again, even the bulk section), and all you do is layer all the ingredients together. Then the recipient of the gift adds the contents of the jar with some water to a pot, lets it cook and voila, dinner is served! And we know what you are thinking, aren't these just boring bean soups? They don't have to be by any means. Check out this list of 6 different soup mixes from Wholefully.
So, what are you waiting for? Go get some jars, practice your pretty handwriting, and start packing up some heartfelt deliciousness.