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Easy Gifts For Joy

I’m in full swing with holiday parties, shopping, wrapping, decorating, and planning, planning and more planning! It’s a good time to pause, take a breath and remind myself the many reasons why I love the holidays. It’s important to feel the joy of the season. For me, the joy of giving is what the holidays are all about.

Gift-giving is magical. My husband and I love delivering gifts to our friends and neighbors. And no wonder we enjoy it. Studies show that there are considerable mental health benefits from giving gifts or volunteering (the gift of time). When we do things for other people, like giving gifts, our brain secretes “feel good” chemicals of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. It leads to a “helper’s high” that boosts self-esteem, elevates happiness and combats feelings of depression.

Gift-giving is so wonderful, but the holidays can add extra stress around how many, to whom, and the cost of the gifts. I remember when my brother and sister-in-law were first married and didn’t have a nickel to spare, they made a tin of Christmas cookies for each person. I recall thinking it was brilliant. We all loved the cookies, and it didn’t cost them too much to make. We knew these cookies were made with love and given with joy. They taught me that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to give a gift that is appreciated.

 My favorite go-to budget-friendly gifts to make

Chocolate Sauce

This is my favorite gift to make because I can make so many jars all at once. One for you, one for you… We gift it to EVERYONE including the mail delivery person, the neighbors, clients, my hairdresser etc. No kidding, we make 3 batches which results in 36 jars! Our friends tell me they have caught family members sneaking a spoonful of the chocolate right from the jar.

Supplies: A wide-mouth canning funnel is helpful to reduce waste and spillage. Mine cost less than $5 and well worth it.

Sterilize: Always sterilize your jars and lids. I run my jars through the dishwasher and boil the lids on the stovetop.

Labels: Make your own labels or use a service such as this one for custom labels.


My daughter loves granola and she loves to gift it to her friends and teachers. I’m all about supporting her learning how easy and fun it is to make gifts and then experience the joy. Plus, it gives us bonus time together.

Ingredients: We buy the nuts and spices in bulk to save money.

Bags: My daughter has used everything from baggies to special bags she ordered online. This year she used jars and wrapped a ribbon around it with her tag. As long as the granola is in an air-tight container it will be good.

Labels: Bags and labels can be handcrafted or pre-printed. Something simple like “Granola made by Julie” shows it’s made with love.

Apple Cider Mulling Sachets

 These are so easy. Make one for each of the neighbors. Attach them to a jug of apple cider and your friends and neighbors will have a party in the making.

Supplies: Cheese cloth can be found in any kitchen store but I usually find it in the baking section of my grocery store. If it’s a fine mesh, then you only need to cut to size. If it is a wide mesh you will need to double it to make sure your ingredients don’t fall through. Use white string to tie up your bundle.

Tags. Make a pretty tag with instructions. For those who might like a spiked version, include best liquors to use like dark rum, bourbon or brandy.

Presentation: A jug of cider isn’t that pretty so use a colorful ribbon to tie on your sachet and tag. That extra effort makes it look festive.

More Ideas For Tasty Gifts!

 Search for more delightful gift-inspired recipes in your DinnerTime Recipe Box.

Use the filter function (found on right of your DinnerTime Recipe Box search) to find dessertsmain dishside dishes etc.

 Homemade salad dressing is such a nice treat.

Perfect for when friends and family stop by.

A yummy gift that can be used now or later.