I love the idea of giving homemade gifts for Christmas.
I've come across the mentality that homemade is second best; I know people who judge on monetary value and assume that shop-bought, established brands are always better than amateur efforts. Homemade to these folks is about thrift or stinginess or rose-tinted nostalgia, if they're being generous.
But they're wrong.
Let's put pay to the first misapprehension straight away. Homemade gifts are not always about saving money. A bottle of decent quality shop-bought jam or chutney might set you back £2-3. But even the smaller producers, with pretty marketing images of small farms and country kitchens make far larger quantities than me. Buying ingredients and jars in bulk brings their costs down significantly. For us hobby preservers, the costs of jars and ingredients adds up pretty fast.
My homemade chocolate chip cookies of dreams cost far more than supermarket ones, even their posh ranges. Mine are stuffed full of high quality ingredients and a shockingly decadent amount of chocolate. They smell amazing coming out of the oven, and have the perfect texture too. The dough can be frozen, and baked straight from the freezer, so two ways to give them as a gift.
Of course, some people are time-rich and cash poor, but that doesn't mean you should undervalue the gift they've given you by spending their time making something tasty especially for you.
My homemade spicy tomato ketchups (which I've made from ripe red tomatoes and unripe green ones) not only represent hours of effort in the kitchen but are usually made with tomatoes we've grown ourselves, nurturing them from seed to harvest.
If it's not always about cost and it's a huge investment of time, you might be asking why anyone bothers with homemade at all? The answer is that the results can be so very very good! And recipes can be tweaked and adapted (or made up completely, like my chutney above) to suit personal tastes, availability of seasonal fruits and vegetables and even allergies to specific commonly-used ingredients. (I've made an extra-hot chilli pickle because I know some of my friends are real chilli-heads!)
And, without blowing my own trumpet, I know that my homemade green tomato and raisin chutney is good, really good!
Of course, my examples above are all food but I have also been given homemade wines, ciders and liqueurs not to mention homemade scarves and other items of clothing. A friend is making me an apron with her own fair hands, at this very moment!
Feeling as strongly as I do about homemade gifts I was very happy to be invited to Vanessa Kimbell's Let's Make Christmas blogger event at which we'll swap homemade goodies over afternoon tea and chat.
I'm taking along three items I've made, one that I made very recently and two others which I made last year and the year before, so they've had time to mature properly. *
I thought I'd take this opportunity to go back through Kavey Eats and highlight some recipes for fabulous homemade goodies, that would make great gifts this Christmas:
Jams & Jellies
Pickles, Chutneys & Ketchups
I'd love to know about the favourite homemade food and drinks gifts you've been given by others and which of your own always go down the best with your friends and family.