In the world of DIY holiday presents, there are definitive dos and don’ts. The difference between the two is even more apparent when food is involved. Though most people appreciate the care that goes into creating a yummy homemade food gift, the charm can disappear if it’s not executed well.

We can help you make a gift that people actually crave. Here are the three worst and best DIY food gifts for this holiday season:

 

DIY DON’T: Cookie Dough Log

Well-meaning relatives love to present you with gooey, lukewarm logs of their ‘famous’ cookie dough during family gatherings. The dough usually comes wrapped in cellophane and is helpfully-labeled with smeary permanent marker instructions on how to bake. For most folks, the present represents a dessert half-way point:  a no man’s land in which you’re forced to finish what someone else started to make.

Cookie Dough Log Gifts

DIY DO: Cookie Decorating Kit

For the love of all things tasty, finish the job! Make the cookies! If you want there to still be some customization or a DIY component, then consider gifting a Cookie Decorating Kit. You can put the freshly-made cookies inside a pretty seasonal tin. Inside the tin, enclose an assortment of nonpareils, sprinkles, and a few frosting gel pens. Then, the recipient can choose how (or whether) to decorate.

Gingerbread House

DIY DON’T: Flavored Popcorn Balls

Boy Scouts usually sell popcorn balls at holiday fundraisers. They consist of plain popcorn rolled into a sphere that’s held together with a mixture of corn syrup, sugar, butter, and sometimes food coloring. Their already-stale texture lends itself to a very short shelf life. Plus, they’re impossible to eat politely, unless you enjoy chipping into a sticky treat the size of your fist.

Popcorn Ball Gifts

DIY DO: Gourmet Holiday Mix

Take the concept behind popcorn balls, but give it more of an adult flair. Make a big batch of gourmet holiday snack mix, and divvy it up into colorful paper cones tied with a bow or into mason jars. Try one of these tasty snack mix recipes: Sweet + Spicy Curried Nuts, Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas or Orange + Dark Chocolate Granola.

Honey Cinnamon Holiday Mix

DIY DON’T: Canned or Pickled Preserves

Pickled vegetables and preserves had their day back in 1940. Presentation-wise, anything floating in its own juices is not super appetizing. Preserves are not really a stand-alone dish either, so you will be forcing the recipient to figure out how to incorporate 6 month old beets into whatever they happen to already be cooking.

Preserved Vegetable Gifts

DIY DO: Infused Salts or Sugars

A more universally-useful item that could mesh with more dishes is handmade infused salts or sugars. Though the concept sounds difficult, it is actually quite easy. Most infused salt recipes, like this one for Sriracha Salt, just requires you to incorporate the seasoning into a batch of basic Kosher salt. The same goes for infused sugars. Recipes generally call for you to pulverize herbs or add-ins like vanilla beans in a food processor, and then mix it with granulated sugar. Either type of concoction looks beautiful when stored in a clear glass jar, complete with a ribbon-tie label.

Vanilla Sugar Gifts

Do you have any edible DIY holiday gift recommendations that are true crowd-pleasers? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!