Gifts From the Kitchen

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A 2022 holiday spending report from the National Retail Federation outlined that the average expected amount spent on gifts and related holiday items is estimated to be $832.84. This estimate can stem from gifts spent on family, friends, and coworkers, food for gatherings, or decor for the home. While this estimate will vary socioeconomically from family to family, there can be a shared consensus around this time of the year, that our monthly spending tends to increase during the holidays. In the same NRF report, more consumers feel a heightened sense of caution when it comes to setting their holiday budgets due to rising costs.

The holidays are a time to celebrate the year and the joys of life that we are blessed with. Consumers have felt that it is important to spend money on gifts for those in their life to express their love and appreciation for them. However, there is certainly no specific price amount attached to how you express love and appreciation. With the heightened caution to spending, there is a way to give budget-friendly, from-the-heart gifts this holiday season crafted from simple ingredients found in the kitchen. A gift from the kitchen can represent warmth, and comfort while fostering family memories.

Homemade food gifts are an inexpensive option that allows you to be creative in the ways you express your love and appreciation. Creating a mix out of simple dry ingredients creates a jarred gift that is a fun, family-friendly holiday gift-making experience. Using a clean canning jar and pieces of fabric, ribbons, bows, buttons, greenery, and more, you can decorate each jar in a way that reminds you of the person you are gifting it to. Another budget-friendly addition to giving along with the jar is to attach a small cooking utensil such as a whisk or spatula.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has created many recipes for homemade food mixes you can make this year as a gift. These recipes include directions for preparing the mix and gift tags that can be printed out and included with the jar.

Homemade Jarred Mixes:

When creating these mixes you want to make sure you are being food-safe in the kitchen. Make sure you clean your hands, work surfaces, and jar before preparing the mix. Once you have assembled the mix, be sure to wipe down the top and around the jar before securing the lid.

Apple Crisp Mix

University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Creating the Mix:


½ cup Oats

½ cup Whole Wheat Flour

½ cup Brown Sugar

½ teaspoon Cinnamon

½ teaspoon Nutmeg


  1. Use a wide-mouth pint-sized jar

  2. Layer all ingredients in the jar.

  3. Attach gift tag instructions for the final product.

*Store the jar in the refrigerator and use it within 6 months.

Cooking the Recipe:


4 cups tart Apples, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons Butter

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

1 jar Apple Crisp Topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Place apples in an 8×8-inch baking pan.

  3. Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples.

  4. In a small bowl, empty the contents of the topping jar.

  5. Combine butter with the topping mixture until crumbly.

  6. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples.

  7. Bake at 350°F until apples are tender and topping is lightly browned about 40 minutes.

N.C. Cooperative Extension’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on nutrition, health, food preservation, and food safety in Lee County please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Ashley Szilvay at 919-775-5624.