With Christmas coming right around the corner it's time to start thinking about presents and gifts for your loved ones. Christmas is a time of love and joy as you spend the holiday surrounded by family and friends. This time of year can also bring a small amount of stress due to the cost of Christmas gifts and the amount of Christmas presents you need to buy. I know for myself I have a big family, and without having to empty out my bank account I have been able to find some delicious and beautiful homemade Christmas gifts. It is always rewarding to see the impression a homemade gift makes on a person. Homemade gifts are a great way to send a personal message of caring and love. The following activities can be done with a family member and can be a fun day spent in the kitchen that turns into a yearly tradition.

Gift in a Jar Mix: This is a super easy gift that your friends will enjoy as it has delicious results. To package this mix I would recommend a wide-mouthed large mason sized jar with a screw on lid. Label each jar and attach a recipe card with directions along with any beautiful scrap pieces of fabric you can place over the jar lid. Secure with a rubber band and tie with a beautiful piece of Christmas ribbon.
-Gingerbread-In-A-Jar: 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. Carefully layer in the ingredients starting with the brown sugar. Close the jar lid tightly. On the recipe card write the following:

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit L
-Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
- Beat together 1 stick of unsalted butter, 1 cup unsulphured molasses, and 2 large eggs.
-Add the gingerbread mix and 1 cup boiling water and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Greek Salad Dressing: This delicious recipe can be found in Paula Deen's Celebrates cooking book which includes many more holiday recipes. This unique gift can be packaged in a beautiful bottle that has a stopper. A clear bottle that is often used to hold olive oil and vinegar would work perfectly. Your family is going to ask for this gift over and over again. This recipe makes a little more than one cup. First combine all the ingredients and shake it thoroughly, store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator until you are ready to give it as a present. Bring it to room temperature the day you are going to be giving it out and pour it into your beautiful bottle. The ingredients are the following:

-1/2 cup Olive Oil
-1/3 cup fresh Lemon Juice
-1/4 cup canola oil
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-1 clove garlic, minced
-3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon sugar

Cinnamon-Honey Butter: This delicious recipe reminds me of the butter that is served at Texas Road House. It will keep you asking for more and more. Some cute packaging ideas are baby food jars, small mason jars, or rolled up in wax paper and then wrapped in colorful paper. This is amazing on top of homemade honey wheat bread or coffee cake. The ingredients are combined in a small bowel and chilled thoroughly. This gift is so easy to make and has been a winner over and over again.

-1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
-2 tablespoons honey
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Peanut Butter Fudge: what is better to satisfy your craving for sweets than a rich piece of fudge? Make it as a gift and you will be amazed at people's reactions. Placing this in Christmas tins or on decorative plates makes a stunning presentation. The thought of making homemade fudge can sound intimidating, but it is surprisingly easy. You will find that you will make it for yourself on more than one occasion.

-1(12 ounce) jar chunky peanut butter
-1(12 ounce) package milk chocolate chips
-1(14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
-1 cup chopped pecans

Melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips together. Add the sweetened condensed milk and heat. Add pecans and mix well. Pour all of the ingredients into a buttered 9 x 9 inch dish. Allow the fudge to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes until you cut into it. Store the fudge after cutting in your refrigerator.

I hope you find all of these ideas helpful and rewarding. I have enjoyed giving them out to loved ones over the years and a homemade Christmas gift always adds a special touch. Ask a friend to come over for the day and you can have great time while making them.