Homemade and Healthy Christmas Gift Ideas (Fun & Unique!)

Beautiful, fun, and unique homemade gifts (made with all natural ingredients!)

Our tree is up, our decorations are out, and the Christmas music is on! As a family, we look forward all year to Christmas for so many reasons. It’s a time of celebration for us, a time of thanksgiving for our blessings, and a time of giving.

And speaking of giving, I love making and giving away beautiful homemade gifts. But there is a wide variance of worth of homemade gifts. My criteria for homemade gifts:

  • Something the recipient would like
  • Something that isn’t completely contrary to my lifestyle decisions (that is, I’d feel sheepish giving away GMO-laden cheap candy after blogging about the evils of them)
  • And something that is tasty, useful, or adds value to the recipients life.

What homemade gifts fit the criteria depends entirely on who I am giving gifts to, but here are some delicious and useful ideas that meet this criterion for many! And look for even more upcoming ideas soon! (You can sign up for my RSS fed to make sure you don’t miss any).

All of these bundles of ideas can also be separated out into individual gifts as well. For example, a popular singular gift that we’ve given as a hostess gift is a jar of Candied Citrus Peel (they are really quite incredible!). Choose to give away just one jar of something or a basket brimming with treats! Both have been popular in my experience.

I’ve also included items that you can add to the basket that are store-bought, and, because we don’t always have time for homemade everything ,“cheater” options of organic/healthy store-bought options. I’ve included affiliate links below, when applicable. Thanks for supporting this blog! 

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix, Marshmallows and More

Fun Homemade and healthy hot cocoa gift ideas
Homemade hot cocoa mix is a yummy and useable gift that is popular to give and receive, but most recipes use a lot of ingredients that are unfortunate. Plus, I try to use Fair Trade Chocolate because of the problems in the chocolate industry (including unfair wages, child labor, and even slavery). To make it extra special, give along with homemade marshmallows!

Hot Cocoa Basket Ideas

Add Ons:

Cheater Options:

Christmas Candy Plate (made with unrefined sweeteners and natural ingredients!)

Homemade candy perfect for gift giving! These are all made with all natural ingredients too.  I have had so much fun making candies using natural, unrefined ingredients and giving them to family and friends. There are so many beautiful candies you can make. Pick one, or pick 6!

 Recipes for DIY Healthier Candies:

To Give in:

Homemade Ice Cream Gift Basket

Give a fun gift of homemade ice cream toppings such as bittersweet chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, and candied nuts!

I know it’s winter, but who doesn’t like ice cream year round? It’s one of my most favorite treats, and I am certainly not alone in that. What about giving a basket full of scrumptious ice cream toppings? You can even include cartons of homemade ice cream (or organic store-bought) for a beautiful gift.

Topping Recipes:

Ice cream recipes:

Add Ons:

Cheater Options:

For the Kids: Playdough Gift Set

How to make homemade glitter playdough

My girls love homemade playdough! To make it especially winter appropriate, try out the glitter dough, keep it “white” or un-dyed, and then add silver glitter! So pretty. Above left, you see our “Elsa” inspired playdough from the movie Frozen (White, with light blue glitter). It is especially fun to make a couple different color combinations. If you do want to dye it, check out the suggestions in the below links for natural dye options.

Recipes:

Add Ons:

Spa Night or Beauty Basket

Vanilla lavender sugar scrub for soft skin!

Beauty products are popular to give as gifts. They are easy to make, easy to use, and smell wonderful too. I don’t have a lot of recipes on this site (yet) for beauty products, but one great resource for homemade beauty products using superior ingredients is Mommypotomus’s book: DIY Organic Beauty Recipes eBook

Recipe:

  • I am pretty much in love with this Vanilla Lavender Scrub. It makes your skin smooth, soft, and smells great too.

Add Ons:

You can give it along with the other items listed on the spa night post – Epsom salts, beeswax candles, lavender essential oil, and honey for a face mask.

Tea Lovers Gift Basket

DIY Beautiful tea blends to give as gifts!

I love tea, so I have given tea gifts a lot. One year I made up a bunch of chai concentrate steeping bags and gave them away with directions for use to a wide variety of my friends and acquaintances. So fun! But you can also give a basket with several different delicious options. Below are some beautiful, DIY tea blends that are super fast and easy to put together. If you have a local store that carries herbs and spices in bulk, this is a cinch to make. (Mountain Rose Herbs also carries all of these ingredients).

Recipes for DIY Tea Blends:

To give in:

Add ons:

Cheater Options:

Those are some of my ideas! I’d love to hear yours! 

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers)

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers)

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

This sandwich is a perfect way to use up your Thanksgiving day leftovers. The sweet flavor of French toast and cranberry sauce is coupled with savory melted cheese and leftover turkey slices. You can easily make this dairy free by omitting the cheese, and switching out the milk for coconut milk, and butter for coconut oil. It will still be a savory sweet treat for the days after your holiday feast!

I think that’s one of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving…experimenting with the leftovers. There is so much you can do with leftover turkey meat! This is especially important for those of us on tight budgets, working hard to feed our families the most nourishing food possible. Nothing goes to waste in our home, and that includes every last piece of our Thanksgiving meal.

Any bread will work for this sandwich, and if you’re on a gluten free diet, you can easily adapt this with your favorite gluten free bread. I chose to use a slow rising sourdough bread as I love the flavor, and the health benefits from the reduction of phytates. It’s more digestible than other breads, and a very nourishing option for this recipe. Kimi has written a great post about the benefits of sourdough bread vs. yeasted bread.

What makes this sandwich so delicious are all the ingredients coming together in one bite. I find that pressing the sandwich in the pan helps make that possible. If you use cheese, this makes it even easier as it works as the “glue” to hold everything together. I don’t have a panini weight, but adapted my own unique way to press sandwiches in my cast iron skillet. Enter, the “tea pot press” below! Fill a kettle up a little less than half way, place a piece of parchment paper between it and the sandwich, and you’ll have a nicely pressed sandwich every time. Yum!

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers)

This sandwich can easily be adapted for what you have on hand after your Thanksgiving festivities. Be creative and make it work for you and your own personal diet. Enjoy!

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers)
 
Author:
Serves: 4 sandwiches
 
Cranberry sauce, turkey, and nourishing sourdough bread all come together for a delicious post-Thanksgiving meal.
Ingredients
  • 8 Slices of sourdough bread
  • ½ Cup cranberry sauce (divided 1 tablespoon per slice of bread)
  • 8 oz of leftover turkey
  • 4 Eggs
  • ¾ Cup milk (use coconut milk for dairy-free)
  • Butter, or coconut oil, for the pan
  • Slices of cheddar or brie cheese
Instructions
  1. Lay out your bread slices and spread about a tablespoon of cranberry sauce on each slice.
  2. Assemble your sandwiches with leftover turkey, and any cheese you desire. Cheddar or brie are wonderful choices.
  3. In a container wide enough to fit your sandwich, use a fork to scramble the eggs and milk together. One at a time place the entire sandwich in the egg and milk mixture for a few seconds allowing it to soak up the contents a bit. Flip the entire sandwich and allow the other piece of bread to soak.
  4. Immediately place it in a hot skillet with butter. Flip when one side is golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. I find that it helps to weigh the sandwich down with a panini press, a brick wrapped in parchment paper, or a teapot half filled with water ;)

 

Pumpkin Pie Stuffed Apples (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Pumpkin Pie Stuffed Apples (Grain Free with Dairy Free Options) - The Nourishing Gourmet

Warmly-spiced pumpkin filling is spooned into a hollowed-out apple shell that softens and caramelizes as it bakes. Topped with a simple caramel sauce this is a a rustic yet elegant fall dessert to serve to family and friends!

No need to limit yourself to pumpkin. This filling is based on a sweet potato pie recipe. I have also made it with buttenut squash and next up is kabocha. Carrot pie is also intriguing! My kids won’t go near winter squash in the lightly salted, roasted version that I adore. But this is one of their favorite desserts of all time. That’s a win in my book.

I’ve recently become even more excited about carotenoid-rich vegetables after discovering a new health benefit. Current research is showing that those with the highest serum-levels of carotenoids were 20-30% less likely to develop breast cancer. It’s probably a bit early to tell whether this is because those with more carotenoids are likely to be higher in other nutrients as well, but there seems to be at least some link since it has been noted across multiple studies.

Concerned that the apple shells may be too tedious? It turns out that hollowing an apple is easier than it may seem. This recipe calls for four huge apples (or 5 large) and the whole operation takes no more time than it would to make a crust – a sometimes stressful endeavor, in my opinion. I use red delicious because they are softer. Just half them, hollow out each side with a knife, then scoop out the center with a good spoon (a grapefruit spoon works well).

When you finish putting these together you are left with the perfect amount of apple with which to make an apple pie! Just toss it with some lemon to prevent it from oxidizing and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to put it together in the next day or two. Or try one of the savory apple recipes that have recently appeared on The Nourishing Gourmet.

Here are some apple recipe ideas:

Cranberry Apple Mini Pies (GF, if desired)
Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce (DF)
Apple Clafoutis (Grain-Free)
Potato Apple Soup with Caramelized Onions & Gorgonzola
Easy Pan-Fried Cabbage and Apples

We usually prefer our pumpkin pie chilled, but we love these warm. And you won’t want to skip the caramel. It’s definitely worth the quick extra step!

 

Pumpkin Pie Stuffed Apples (GF/DF)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 servings (1 pie)
 
These rustic little treats are perfect for fall. Mix and match different orange squashes or use your own pumpkin pie filling recipe!
Ingredients
  • 4 very large apples (I use red delicious)
  • 2 cups pumpkin or orange squash puree (here are instructions for making your own)
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ - ⅓ cup coconut sugar (1/4 if you are using caramel sauce, ⅓ if not)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (optional, for those who don't need it to be dairy free)
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (preferably fresh grated)
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • lemon (sprinkle on apples to prevent oxidation)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a food processor, puree all pumpkin filling ingredients (everything minus the apple and lemon). Alternately you can use a good masher, however this will not work if your pumpkin is very stringy.
  3. Carefully and confidently, hollow out the apples - slice them in half (from stem to bottom). WIth a knife, carve out the apple on each side leaving the core intact, then scoop out the core with a good spoon (I used a grapefruit spoon). Leave about ¼" of apple attached to the peel. Sprinkle each shell with a little lemon before moving on to the next.
  4. Fill each shell with pumpkin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until done.
  5. Serve warm with Easy-Peasy Caramel Sauce.

Potato Apple Soup with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola (grain-free)

Potato Apple Soup with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola (grain-free)By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

This rustic potato soup is delicately sweet, with caramelized onions and local apples, topped with savory gorgonzola. Not only is it nourishing-to-the-max with chicken bone broth, but it’s quick to put together and very frugal for even the tightest budget! This soup is simple enough for a busy weeknight meal (it has been devoured by my three year old son multiple times this week), but also has a touch of elegance with the addition of gorgonzola cheese in place of a traditional cheddar.

We’re officially in “soup season” as I like to call it. My crockpot is bubbling every week with homemade nourishing bone broth, and my freezer is always stocked with a few quarts for when I need it. Traditional bone broth has an abundance of health benefits ranging from helping intestinal disorders to the common cold (Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, page 116-117). My husband and I drink a warm mug of broth, lightly salted, when we feel a cold coming on – and it really seems to help!

Potato soup is a favorite of mine, and I’m always looking for unique ways to serve it. I currently have twenty pounds of local apples, freshly picked from a nearby orchard. Traditionally, apples are paired with butternut squash, or sweet potatoes, but I loved the idea of a savory sweet soup with the humble russet potato and caramelized onions for extra flavor. Adding some gorgonzola on top gave it just the “bite” I was looking for.

I love keeping recipes simple, frugal, and nourishing, especially in the winter months when illnesses abound. You can’t go wrong when you use bone broth as your foundation. It’s easy to adapt this recipe for your taste as well. Add more apples or onions if you prefer it on the sweeter side, or switch out the gorgonzola for cheddar or brie.

Here are some other soups you may enjoy:

And check out Kimi’s Cookbook, (affiliate link) Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as well!

Potato Apple Soup with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola (grain-free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
 
This rustic soup is savory sweet and very frugal. It could easily be enjoyed all winter long!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used russet)
  • 3 medium sized apples of your choice (about 1-1.5 lbs)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Gorgonzola cheese to top
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the sliced onions, a pinch of salt, and caramelize them for about 20-25 minutes until they are a deep golden brown. While the onions are carmelizing, peel and chop the potatoes and apples.
  2. When the onions are caramelized, add the potatoes, apples, broth, thyme and bay leaf to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Use a hand blender to puree the soup. You could also do it in batches in a countertop blender as well. I like to leave some chunks in the soup and not puree it completely.
  4. Top with a hefty portion of gorgonzola cheese crumbles.