Yuletide Cheer

You’ll be the talk of the party with these DIY hostess gifts

 

‘Tis the season for holiday get-togethers, and the courteous guest knows it’s imperative not to show up empty-handed. Impress your hosts at the next seasonal soiree by bringing them a homemade liqueur, syrup or garnish to bolster their bar. Our featured recipes vary in the amount of time needed to pull off the finished product, yet all are easy to execute—and you can rest assured you’ll get invited back next year.

For the Procrastinator: Flavored Salts
you can wait until the last minute—and still give a hostess gift that’s from the heart.

1 cup
coarse sea salt
2 tbsp ground dried herbs or spices

The ultimate last-minute gift, flavored salts take literally minutes to make and can be used long after the holiday season has faded into memory. Combine ingredients and mix well. Put in a jar and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. This ultra-simple salt can be used to make a tasty rim on a cocktail glass, or add a pinch into your drink for a burst of flavor. Almost any spice or dried herb can be used. One of our favorites is dried chilies, which make for a spicy addition to a margarita.

For the Time-Saver: Cinnamon Simple Syrup this syrup is simply delicious—and perfect for the gift-giver on the go.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 cinnamon sticks

Cinnamon is one of the season’s go-to spices, and this syrup can be added to just about any spirit for some yuletide flavor, as well as to tea, coffee or any warm beverage that needs a touch of sweetness and complexity. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the liquid to a slow boil, then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Take off heat and let cool to room temperature, then strain out the cinnamon sticks.  Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator. It’ll keep indefinitely.

For the Planner: Limoncello this classic italian liqueur takes some time to prepare, but the result is well worth the wait.
2 750-ml bottles vodka
2 cups  water
2 cups  sugar
10-12  lemons

Limoncello is the gift that keeps on giving. It can be kept in the fridge or freezer all year to provide an instant refreshment for impromptu get-togethers. Remove the zest from the lemons with a grater or vegetable peeler, and make sure to avoid getting the pith (the white portion under the peel)—it’s extremely bitter. Place the zest in a large glass jar and pour in one bottle of vodka. Seal the jar and store in a cool, dry place for two weeks, shaking the contents daily. When time is up, strain through cheesecloth into another jar, and add the other bottle of vodka. At this point, combine the sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it come to a boil, then remove from heat and let it cool. Add simple syrup to the limoncello, then seal the jar and let the concoction rest for another week before gifting.

 

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DIY Hostess Gifts

 

Photo credit: Matt Strom

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