Last minute Christmas presents that still show you care
If you're reading this as a genuine last ditch attempt to drum up some gift ideas I'd like to take a minute to commend you on leaving things so profoundly - so heroically - late. Life is for living, and your zero-planning maximum-panic approach may well be the last bastion of reckless joie de vivre in an era obsessed with quinoa and spinning.
So well done you.
But even if you're not the type to leave thinking about gift ideas until literally two days before Christmas, these are a few homemade gifts I've put together this Christmas for friends and fam. I find homemade gifts tend to be a good option when you find yourself on the wrong side of an 24 hour amazon prime delivery, because they can be produced quickly, but say 'I actually thought about this and I do really like you' in a way that a bottle of Tesco Metro Prosecco or petrol station flowers really really don't. So, some options:
Easy Option 1: Infused Honey
It looks fancy and difficult but it is categorically either. Simply get a nice looking glass jar of honey, take the label off (warm soapy water usually does it), add some tasty infusing ingredients, put the lid back on and leave to infuse in a warm place.
Dry spices work really well, as do lemon and orange peels. So anything from peppercorns to dried thyme to cinnamon, star anise, or even dried chillies can go in, but orange and cinnamon is my favourite combo for Christmas. Just make sure your peels are chopped finely and your spices are whole (ie not powdered - those will just sit sadly on top and make you feel like a failure).
If you don't have time to infuse the honey, just add a label with instructions telling the receiver of the gift to leave it somewhere warm for a week before opening. People love a (very mildly) interactive gift.
Easy Option 2: Amaretti Biscuits
You're giving someone cookies, but they're fancy sophisticated Italian cookies, so this is a grownup gift. These are easy to make and only need one bowl, an electric mixer and 20 minutes in the oven. Instructions below, or you can read in full recipe here.
4 egg whites, whisked until stiff
300g caster sugar, added slowly to the stiff egg whites until the consistency is smooth and shiny
250g ground almonds, added slowly to the egg and sugar mixture
50ml amaretto liqueur, folded through the mixture
Spoon the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment one teaspoon at a time with an inch between each spoonful
Cook at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes, and allow to cool before wrapping
EASY OPTION 3: CANDIED FRUIT
The easiness of this recipe is not so much that it's fast as that it only uses basic ingredients that you might happen to have in your kitchen anyway.
All you do is chop up an orange (or a lemon or any other hard fruit or vegetable - chilli peppers work really well, soft fruit an berries don't) and add it to a hot pan of water with sugar dissolved in it. 2 parts water to 1 part sugar works best.
Simmer your fruit in the pan until it has gone transparent (don't worry, it won't fall apart or turn to jam), then remove from the pan and set on a rack to dry out. You can speed up the drying process by putting your fruit on a rack in the oven on the lowest possible setting (about 50 degrees C) for about 20 minutes.
Finally, if you want to, you can dip your fruit in chocolate. I like to use dark chocolate for oranges and lemons but use whatever you feel like.