Handmade Holiday Gift Recipes

Inexpensive, edible holiday treats for everyone on your list

Handcrafted gifts are the most meaningful, budget-friendly way to say “Happy Holidays” to your loved ones. And if you’ve got a lot of people to love, that can often mean a lot of gifting! We’ve got you covered with recipes you can prepare in large batches, then package up as individual gift items. Searsucker Del Mar Executive Sous Chef, Sara Harris, and Corporate Pastry Chef, Becky Kastelz, share how you too can win at holiday gifting with minimal time, clean-up, and spending.

Batched Hot Cocoa Mix

Nothing screams holidays like hot cocoa, but there’s no better way to enjoy it than freshly prepared and warmed! With this gift of the perfect mix, your giftee can enjoy it all winter long, one steamy mug at a time.

  • 2 cups Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 cups Powdered Milk Or Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
  • 2 tsp Corn Starch
  • 1 tsp salt

Sift all ingredients together and stir.

Here’s the fun part: add in flavors of your choice to make it unique: cayenne pepper for that sassy aunt, mini marshmallows for the fun-loving younger cousin, or dark chocolate chunks to seduce your significant other’s sweet tooth!

Portion into mason jars for gifting, and pair with a set of fun mugs, or a bottle of the recipient’s favorite liquor as a fun adult add-in! Include a hand-written note with instructions:

To serve: add 2tbs mix to a mug with 2tbs hot water or milk. Stir well, add more hot water or milk to fill mug. Top with marshmallows, a shot of Kahlua or your poison of choice, and Enjoy!


Flavored Salts

Holiday Gift RecipesGive your foodie friends some inspiration to get a little inventive in the kitchen! Flavored salts create a gift of speckled allure for your giftees to enjoy all year long.

By combining your favorite spices, herbs, or flavorings with a flakey sea salt, the options are endless to put your own personal touch on this gift. Chef Sara shares her favorite—Lemon Thyme Salt—but recommends exploring other variations like chili flake & lime zest, grapefruit & vanilla bean, and orange & rosemary. Just follow this formula:

  • 1tsp flavorings per 1/4 cup salt*

*Be sure to use flakey sea salt, such as Maldon

Batched Lemon Thyme Salt

  • 2 cups Maldon sea salt
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped thyme
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon zest

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and dry out in an oven at 170 degrees for two hours, then turn off the oven and leave overnight. Package in airtight containers (we love these: for long-lasting storage for your giftees. We love tying some of the ingredients to the jars to hint at what’s inside, or creating customized labels!


Batched Hot Toddy Mix


This twist on a warm winter favorite comes from Chef Becky’s long-lasting family recipe, which her mom always called “Russian Tea.”  Is it Russian?  Definitely not.  Why did someone decide this was Russian?  Unclear. But we shall move forward.

This recipe includes Tang, which you probably haven’t even thought about since you were a kid.  It’s what the astronauts drink!  You can still get it at most grocery stores, or big box stores like Amazon, Target and Walmart. Dried Lemon Peel is easy to find in the spice section of your favorite grocery store.

  • 2 cups Tang powdered drink mix
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 ½ cups Unsweetened Instant Tea
  • 2 tsp. Dried Lemon Peel
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

Congrats!  You’re done!

Just kidding.  You should probably package the mix up in some cute cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon. If you want to be a REALLY helpful elf this year, include hand-written instructions for drinking:

To make a tasty alcohol-free beverage, add 5 tsp. of Hot Toddy Mix to 8 ounces of hot water.  For a snazzier evening, combine 1 ounce of your favorite whiskey, 4 tsp. Hot Toddy Mix, and 6 ounces hot water.  Bottoms up!