A guide to last minute gifts your family might actually appreciate

How to show you care, when your budget won’t cooperate

This year, reaching Christmas with a budget decidedly slimmer than in previous years, I find myself mourning the loss of the days when it was acceptable to give your Mum a homemade ‘bookmark’ that you made in primary school arts and crafts. What’s more, I miss that she would genuinely appreciate it and all the heartfelt effort that went into it.

Nowadays, it seems so easy to fall into the trap of buying a Body Shop shower gel and calling it a day, leaving both you and the receiver of your thoughtful gift somewhat underwhelmed. After a term of the occasional unwise spending decision (read: falling for ‘first round on you’ a few too many times), spending money on a half-hearted gift doesn’t exactly fill me with joy.

Instead, here are a few ideas for homemade foodie gifts which are easy, quick and relatively cheap, and show you care better than generic cosmetics ever will.

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Fancy Granola

This recipe is a family secret (oops) and I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t like it. Present it in a cute jar (hack: use left over jam jars to save money), tie a ribbon around it and you’ve got your presents sorted. Also, trust me on the olive oil.

Ingredients:

300g rolled oats

100g roughly chopped almonds

60g roughly chopped pecans

130g sunflower seeds

70g pumpkin seeds

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

120ml olive oil

150ml maple syrup

150g dried fruit of choice (raisins, cranberries etc.)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celcius. Line 2 large sheet pans with baking paper.

2. Combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit in a large bowl and make sure the oats are coated in the oil and syrup.

3. Bake the granola for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.Once the granola is baked, add the dried fruit and store in airtight tins or jars.

N.B. The recipe is very flexible- feel free to mix up the nuts, seeds and fruit according to what you have.

Festive Gingerbread

You can’t go wrong with gingerbread this time of year. This recipe makes plenty, and if you use cute cookie cutters and deploy the aforementioned ribbon technique you’re on to a winner.

Not quite the New Nigella (icing definitely recommended/play it off as rustic)

Ingredients:

350g plain flour

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 level teaspoons ground giner

100g butter

175g light muscovado sugar

4 tablespoons golden syrup

1 large egg, beaten

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celcius and grease your baking trays.

2. Measure the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add the golden syrup and beaten egg and mix to form a smooth dough, kneading lightly with your hands towards the end.

3. Divide the dough in hald and roll out on half on a lightly floured work surface to about 1/4 inch thickness.

4. Cut the dough into shapes and place on the prepared trays.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly then lift onto a wire rack to cool completely.

There's still time to cook up an imaginative and personal gift for your loved ones and distant relations alike. So pull on your oven gloves, fire up the Christmas tunes and get baking!

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