When the holiday season comes, the question of gift budgeting always follows. As a semi-broke college student, I find myself turning to homemade edible gifts every year. It's cheaper and less stressful than buying Christmas gifts for all of my friends.

Besides, what's that stereotypical quote? "The best way to someone's heart is through their stomach." Something like that, right?

I know my favorite presents are generally food related. Hell, for secret Santa one year my friends gave me a box of Georgetown Cupcakes. I was pretty damn happy.

wine, beer, water, coffee, fish
Hana Dibe

So, what are the best edible (but not edibles) gifts I can make? After all, there's always someone with a food allergy or one who is picky about what they'll eat. The worst feeling is if they hate something and still smile when you give them it in a little basket of edible gifts.

But, this will be my ninth year of giving homemade edible Christmas gifts. So, I like to think I've got this gift basket thing down. I can personally tell you that these gifts won't be disappointing—unless the person is super picky. Then screw them: picky eaters are the worst.

Vanilla Extract

wine, alcohol, liquor, beer
Kirsten Andersen

This gift is the best because you can keep whatever you don't give away and use it to bake more edible gifts down the road. It's super easy to make your own vanilla extract at home. And way cheaper too. Plus you can stick the beans (after drying them) in sugar and get some vanilla sugar out of this gift.

Chocolate Bark

chocolate, cake, peppermint, cookie
Dylan Barth

Obviously, peppermint bark is a Christmas staple. Who doesn't like chocolate covered in pieces of candy cane? Plus, peppermint is Christmas's pumpkin spice: it's everywhere and there's no escape. Alternatively, you can make a more manly (aka savory) bark with bacon in it.

Jams or Preserves

sweet, berry, raspberry, jam, strawberry, gelatin, marmalade
Sarah Silbiger

A lot of people are afraid of canning and making preserves (or jams) because they're scared of screwing it up. But, sometimes making a raspberry jam can be easier than Easy Mac (seriously, I've seen people set off dorm fire alarms making Easy Mac).

However, sweet isn't up everyone's alley. And, I'll admit, I'm definitely a multi-purpose nut when it comes to food. So when I want to make a jam it better be caffeinated or super healthy (like this chia seed jam). 


beer, wine, liquor
Susanna Mostaghim

Bitters are a go to for any cocktail drinker. They add complexity and uniqueness to your drink. What else would make your Christmas gift basket more classy than giving someone a bottle of bitters to accompany some infused vodka?

Nut Butters

chocolate, milk, candy, sweet, milk chocolate
Susanna Mostaghim

Am I the only one who thinks Nutella is hella expensive for the size? I've been making peanut butter at home for years. It's easy  to make different flavored peanut butters (white chocolate coconut peanut butter anyone?), and it's just as easy to DIY your own Nutella. Just make sure your friend doesn't have a nut allergy.


cereal, granola, muesli, sweet, milk
Isabel Wang

If you have one of those friends who is always on the go, granola is a safe Christmas present. They can pour it over some yogurt or just munch on it while traveling (or studying for finals, because college). You can either make it in either bar form or loose.

Bonus: you can satisfy your health nut friends with this too.


chocolate, candy, cake
Erica Coulter

Truffles are on my go-to list of edible Christmas presents. In fact, they are among the very first edible gifts I ever gave. Personally, they're still one my favorites, especially since I'm the one that gets to eat the leftovers. You don't even have to make chocolate ones anymore, you can make them out of your favorite cereals, too.

Infused Vodka

wine, alcohol, liquor, ice, juice, cocktail, vodka, red wine
Susanna Mostaghim

This is for 21+ only to attempt; I'm not explicitly condoning drinking before you're 21. Read closely: I'm not saying infuse fruit with alcohol. I'm saying infuse the alcohol with your favorite flavors. Everyone likes getting alcohol as a present, what's better than giving it a personal touch based on the person?

Flavored Salts

coffee, chocolate, sweet
Susanna Mostaghim

This is great for your friends who like cooking and maybe not so much baking. To quote Jamie Oliver: "Pungent spice blends are heavenly and elevate cooking to another level. That is exactly what flavored salts do."

Cake Balls

chocolate, cream, butter
Elizabeth Philip

The tried and true option that takes less patience than truffles. Cake balls make a great Christmas gifts, so long as you store them properly before you give them out. This is because you can customize them to taste like the season without the temperamental activity of tempering chocolate.

Cookie Butter

chocolate, milk, coffee, sweet, cream, candy, dairy product
Hannah Skiest

Personally, I love cookie butter. And I think that it's important to know you can make it out of just about any cookie. Especially since you can eat it so many ways. The only draw back is that it is made of cookies and "unhealthy." If you want a healthier version, check out this recipe.


gingerbread, cookie, chocolate, candy, sweet, ginger, cake
Sarah Comerford

This list wouldn't be complete without cookies. What edible Christmas gift basket wouldn't have gingerbread men or sugar cookies? I'd be a sham if I didn't give at least one type of cookie as a present to my friends. Plus, there are so many cookies I need in my life right now.

Personalized Chocolate Bars

chocolate, dairy product, milk, cake, cheese, candy
Nala Chehade

It's super simple to make chocolate bars customized to your friends' preferences that are as delicious as they are beautiful. All you need is to temper some chocolate and add toppings before the chocolate completely sets. If you need to buy a mold you can get one for less than $3 at Confectionery House.


chocolate, candy, milk, sweet, cream, milk chocolate
Krista Stucchio

There's loads of different brittle out there. And while peanut brittle is usually associated with the Christmas season, there's nothing wrong with giving someone a nice chunk of salted toffee brittle. Or even bacon caramel brittle. You can easily go wild with brittle and just as easily munch on the leftovers.


chocolate, sweet, cake, candy, pastry, cream, brownie, goody
Heather Feibleman

Nothing screams the holidays as much as fudge does. And while some people may balk at making fudge (it can be finicky sometimes), you can easily make gift-worthy fudge using your microwave. Just don't leave it in there too long.

Chocolate Dipped Fruit

chocolate, sweet, candy, cream, strawberry
Morgan Goldberg

This is classic sweet makes for an easy Christmas gift. Think chocolate dipped strawberries and the like. It's easy enough to transfer the same technique to other fruits, like oranges. Or you could do something unexpected, like potato chips.

Infused Olive Oils

olive oil, herb, tea, oil, rosemary
Jessica Kelly

Here's another Christmas gift for your foodie friends. Or friends who just really enjoy salad. Infused olive oil can instantly upgrade a dish—and pretty cheaply if you make it yourself. No one wants to shell $15 for a bottle of infused olive oil.


milk, cream, dairy product, sweet
Susanna Mostaghim

Homemade marshmallows are perfect for a Christmas gift basket. They're cheap and have way less preservatives than the store-bought ones. Plus, who doesn't love marshmallows in their hot cocoa? It's not cocoa if I don't have a mound of marshmallows in my mug.

Soft Caramels

candy, milk, chocolate, sweet, milk chocolate, caramel
Holly Birchfield

Soft caramels are universally accepted—at least in my opinion. Fork those who don't think I'm right. Not really though. I personally love trying different caramel variations, but if you want to have a taste of fall at Christmas time try some sea salt apple cider caramels.

Dessert Sauces

sweet, cream, soup, coffee
Lauren Caplan

This is a great gift for your friends who have a big sweet tooth. Dessert sauces can be put on ice cream, cheesecake, etc. There's nothing like getting a jar of homemade caramel or chocolate whisky sauce.

Candied Nuts

cereal, coffee, sweet
Susanna Mostaghim

I don't think I associate candied nuts with any other holiday besides Christmas. But I also don't know many people who eat them. However, I personally love candied almonds when the Christmas season rolls around. They're pretty tasty and a relatively healthy alternative to sweets.

Pâte de Fruit

sweet, candy, cake, chocolate, cookie, pastry, goody
Susanna Mostaghim

Also known as fruit jellies, jewel toned pâte de fruit is proudly displayed by many French confectioners. They add an instant touch of class to any Christmas gift. Plus, you can make them yourself at a way cheaper cost than you'd buy them in store.

Mulled Cider Sachets

cinnamon, herb, anise, tea
Susanna Mostaghim

I love cider. And while it's easy enough to make spiced apple cider in your slow cooker, you sometimes want something more portable. That's where sachets come in: they're portable and a sure crowd-pleaser. Give out a couple sachets and keep the rest for yourself so you'll be warm the rest of winter.


chocolate, candy, cream, milk, sweet
Susanna Mostaghim

Pocky is one of the best Japanese snacks that has hit mainstream food culture in the USA. If you haven't tried them, you haven't lived. The best part is that pocky comes in a huge variety of flavors and are readily available at Asian grocery stores. It's easy enough to make your own as well.

Chocolate Dipped Spoons

chocolate, cookie, cream, meringue
Cailin Diberto

Saved the best for last: chocolate dipped spoons for making hot cocoa. These make your hot cocoa much more indulgent with real chocolate instead of powder. Throw a few of these in with some homemade marshmallows and no one's gonna complain. Unless they don't like chocolate. Then they don't matter.

Now, you could make a large amount of one of these as Christmas gifts. Or you could make a variety of them to give out as little gift baskets, then gorge yourself on the leftovers. At least that's what I'd do.