Gift Guide: CIY (Cook It Yourself)

For those of us on tight budgets, but still looking for meaningful and useful gifts for our loved ones, how about giving them a homemade something? DIY crafty items are great, but who doesn't love to get special food/beverages this time of year? Here are SLR's favorite CIY (cook it yourself) gifts for this time of year...

Granola:  It is good for a long time, so you can gift it without worrying whether it will be consumed before going bad.  Plus, it is a wholesome and healthy way to start the day this time of year- we all know that there are plenty of sweets and treats to derail anyone's attempt to be healthy around the holidays... at least you can start your day off right!

Bitters:  Everyone loves a good cocktail (well, excluding L that is. weirdo.).  The key to a good cocktail? Bitters! They provide extra depth of flavor to any drink.  Making your own bitters is a fantastic way to create a unique blend of spices and flavors to mix the perfect drink.  Do you know a favorite drink of your gift receiver? Craft the bitters to make a slightly more interesting twist on the drink.

Fig Compote:  This compote is made of dried figs (available almost anywhere, any time of the year), and provides a deep, sophisticated flavor to put on toast, serve with pork, or (my favorite) spread on crostini along side a stinky aged cheese.  Besides, anything "fig" just sounds impressive.

Vanilla Extract:  A homemade specialty that only gets better with age.  It hardly takes any effort on your part- mix the ingredients together and let them age together.  The smell is intoxicating, and the end product can elevate almost anything it is used in (I'm dreaming of homemade vanilla gelato).

Fancy Candy:  These salted maple walnut and vanilla bean chocolate cups make me hungry every time I look at them.  Besides, they are made with real food ingredients- no chemically altered syrups or miscellaneous powders.  They make for a jaw-dropping gift, sure to impress any chocolate lover on your gift list.

Body Scrub:  Not an item to eat, but it is made of all natural ingredients, so it is technically safe enough if you really wanted to.  The salt exfoliates while the oil moisturizes.  It smells amazing too, full of citrus zest and almond oil.

Infused Vodka:  Another simple gift with a big wow-factor.  Add some fruits/herbs/spices to vodka, jar it up in a cute mason jar, and give it to the hostess of your next holiday party for extra-festive cocktails. I'm envisioning a pomegranate drink- pomegranate infused vodka, simple syrup, some spiced bitters (see above), topped off with some bubbly.

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