It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The music, lights, festivities, and spirit of giving make for a magical atmosphere. One of the things I enjoy most about the holiday season is the giving part! Gift-giving doesn’t have to be about buying the most expensive gift. No way! It’s about showing gratitude for someone in your life. Capture the spirit of the holidays by creating gifts and treats laced with love and your own personal touch. 

 Here are a few of my DIY holiday suggestions that I think you’ll love:


I’m not a fan of shopping malls (thank goodness for online shopping), but I’m head over heels in love with wrapping presents! My favorite way to wrap is with craft or solid white paper, twine, a small wood ornament, some sort of natural element (twig, pine or eucalyptus) and a simple gift tag.

Or ditch the paper completely and wrap gifts in fabric, burlap bags, or even cellophane bags! Always take the size, shape, and weight of the gift into consideration.

Presentation is everything! If it’s the thought that counts, gift wrap embellishments show that you put thought and consideration into your gift. Here are a few nice little touches that will make your gift special:

Glitter clothespins

Seasonal pine
Personalized/ Printable Tags


Nothing says “love” like a gift made with your own hands (and possibly baked in the oven.)

Gifting homemade treats is thoughtful, delicious and keeps you out of the shopping mall! Chocolate chip, gingerbread and sugar cookies are tried and true classics, but don’t be afraid to venture out with these scrumptious surprises:  

Minty Meringues
Rosemary + Pistachio Chocolate Bark
Peanut Butter + Pretzel Bars
Herbed Nuts

Homemade Granola
Chocolate Fudge

Salted Caramel
Almond Brittle
Linzer Cookies

In the spirit of gift giving, I’m including three delicious and easy-to-make treats that you’ll fall in love with! The chocolate bark, granola, and herbed nuts taste as good as they look (if not better) and they’re perfect for gift giving and sure to add holiday cheer!

DIY Recipes:

Salted Chocolate Pistachio-Rosemary Bark (Yield: 4-6 Servings)


8 ounces good quality semi-sweet or bitter chocolate 

1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

Flaky sea salt


Flip sheet pan over and line with parchment paper.

Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and continue to melt in intervals of 30 seconds, stirring well after each time, until most of the chocolate is melted.

Remove from the microwave and stir until completely melted. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper; with an offset spatula, spread out chocolate. Sprinkle pistachios, rosemary and salt. Using a small piece of wax paper, press the toppings into the chocolate to set. Allow chocolate to completely cool and harden, then break into pieces. 

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Olive Oil and Maple Granola (Yield: 8 Cups)


4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups raw nuts and seeds of preference, left whole or coarsely chopped

1 cup unsweetened coconut chips

¾ cup pure maple syrup

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coarse salt, to taste

1 cup dried fruit (optional)


Heat oven to 300° F.

Whisk syrup, olive oil, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, and mix until well combined.

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on each pan, let stand 15 minutes. Transfer to oven, bake, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 30-45 minutes.

Remove granola from oven and season with more salt to taste. Let cool completely before adding fruit (if using), serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Herbed Nuts (Yield: 8-10 Servings)


3 cups mixed nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, almonds and cashews

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons ground chipotle or harissa powder

4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves

15 -20 sage leaves, torn into large pieces

1 tablespoon sea salt + plus more if needed

Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the mixed nuts with maple syrup, sugar, olive oil, chipotle or harissa powder, 3 tablespoons rosemary, half the sage, salt and pepper. Roast the nuts for 25 – 30 minutes, until crisp but not too brown; stirring twice with a metal spatula or spoon to prevent nuts from clumping together.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with remaining rosemary and sage. Toss well and let cool on the baking sheet. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt if needed, and serve warm or transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature.

For more fabulous ideas for holiday celebrations, gifting and making the most of gatherings with your loved ones, visit us at The Mad Table website. And be sure to like The Mad Table on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for all the latest news, fabulous recipes and beautiful entertaining tips and ideas.