5 Last-Minute Gifts From Your Kitchen

As the clock winds down to Christmas, two camps begin to form. There are the people kicking back with a

As the clock winds down to Christmas, two camps begin to form. There are the people kicking back with a mug of eggnog, who have been done with their Christmas shopping for weeks now. And then there are the procrastinators, who, despite their best intentions, are finding the space under the tree still a bit sparse.

If you’re like me and you still haven’t finished (or even started) your Christmas shopping, you’re not alone. Only 11.3 percent of shoppers have bought all their gifts as of Dec. 13, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation. But don’t let visions of expedited shipping, packed parking lots, and empty shelves dance in your head. You can find the supplies to make many a homemade—and more meaningful—gift in your own kitchen.

  1. Mix in a Jar: Layer the dry ingredients for your favorite cookie, muffin, or bread recipe in a jar (try one that includes colorful ingredients, like M&Ms or craisins). Include a note of the missing wet ingredients as well as baking instructions. Or go savory, and make a jar of soup mix.
  2. Mulling Spice Sachets: Place a mix of cinnamon sticks, orange peel, star anise, whole allspice berries and whole cloves in a cheesecloth or bouquet garni bag. Instruct your recipient to simmer with wine or cider for a festive holiday drink.
  3. Infused Vinegar or Alcohol: White wine vinegar or vodka become extra special when combined with your favorite flavorings. Kick up the alcohol with pineapple chunks, vanilla beans, or seeded jalapeños. Infuse the vinegar with lemon and thyme, and package it with a nice bottle of olive oil for a quick vinaigrette set.
  4. Cocoa Mix:  Combine two cups unsweetened cocoa powder with ¾ cup sugar and 8 ounces of finely chopped chocolate. Include a small bag of marshmallows and a mini bottle of Baileys or Peppermint Schnapps for the perfect cup of cocoa.
  5. Bath salts: Who says everything out of the kitchen has to be edible? Soothe away holiday stress with a mix of salts and essential oils. Try Epsom or Himalayan salts (reputed for their detoxifying qualities) with peppermint or rosemary oil, or even a teaspoon of powdered milk to soften skin.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest