I’m DIY-ing All My Christmas Gifts This Year and You Should Too

Workshop full of elves not required.

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Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Like most small children, for the greater part of my life, this largely had to do with the fact that Santa was going to come along and bring with him a sack full of presents for me and my twin sister (which let’s be honest, meant double the presents for me.) One year, I was obsessed with Furby, the next My Size Barbie, and still more, any, and all, Polly Pocket play sets I could get my hands on. It was fun and exciting to get a wrapped gift box handed to you and not know what was inside. And that awe lasted for a long while.

It wasn't until the fourth grade, however, that I realized part of the elation of getting gifts, was also gifting them in return. But as a 12-year-old I barely had enough money to buy myself a vending machine soda, let alone buy presents for my ten-plus group of friends. Not to mention my sister and parents. Worried that I would have to vote some people off of my proverbial gift-giving island, I stumbled into my weekly Girl Scout meeting and all my angst disappeared.

It was in the small art room in the basement of my grammar school that I learned the art of layering cookie dough ingredients in a jar, pairing it with a cookie cutter and handwriting a recipe. It's a DIY gift I've gone back to time and time again during my years as a broke, ramen-eating college student and a hustling freelance contractor. And it's been a hit with the recipients every time. My aunt even requested a jar of Snickerdoodle ingredients from me this year!

Not only are DIY gifts super fun and easy to put together, they're also a thoughtful way to show someone you care. So just like Santa, I written my list and checked in twice. Here are all the gifts I’ll be DIY’ing this Christmas. Pick out your favorite one and make it too.

I'm making these chocolatey packed mason jars for my grammar school best friend, Lisa, who I’ve shared endless rounds of frothy hot cocoa with during our 14-year friendship. Ree Drummond starts off by adding a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt to the bottom of her glass jars. Next comes an ample serving of unsweetened cocoa powder and a dash of instant dried milk. She tops them off with decadent shaved chocolate and mini marshmallows for some fa-la-la-la-flavor.

It was during a sticky summer afternoon trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art that my mother, Barbara, and I first stumbled into the notorious Laduree store and sampled their mouthwatering salted caramel butter. My mom’s been on a mission to get her hands on another jar ever since, but it just keeps flying off the shelves in stores and online. That’s why this Salted Caramel Sauce from Kelsey Nixon is the perfect gift for her. Five ingredients is all you'll need to make it – sugar, water, heavy cream, butter and sea salt. Pour it into a festive container when cooled and top with a bow and handwritten note for a heartwarming touch.

Food Network Kitchen’s Ferrero Rocher Cookie Cups

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

I get my obsession with Ferrero Rocher candies from my father, Neven. Place a box of those luscious hazelnut bonbons in front of us and we'll devour them in seconds. The same thing is sure to happen when I gift him these truffle-filled cookie cups. With their crispy sugar cookie base and chocolate-filled centers, these confections are great for chocolate-lovers big and small. Drizzle with additional melted dark chocolate for even more decadence.

My twin sister, Nicole, loves peppermint bark; last year, she stocked up on so much that she was eating it well into July. This marshmallow-based version from Food Network Magazine is sure to make her Christmas this year. With such a small ingredients list – white chocolate, peppermint and mini marshmallows – this DIY gift won't take up much of your time. And with a storage time of two weeks, it's a perfect gift for friends you may not see until after Christmas vacation.

Food Network Kitchen’s No-Bake Oreo Truffle Snowmen.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

There are seven baby angels in my family, ranging in age from 2 to 7. I love spending time with them and when we're all together as a group, I just can't help but spoil them with hugs, kisses and sugar (even when their parents beg me not to). I'm planning on making these Frosty-esque cookies-and-cream pops for my little playmates. Grab a box of Tic Tac mints for the adorable noses and green or red sour gummy belts for the colorful scraves.

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