It's a bit late in the game for holiday gifts, but this idea can be applied to any occasion! For a handful of lovely ladies in the office, I handed out an assortment of dry hot cocoa mix, eggnog, and spiced chai concentrate. All were easy to make recipes and looked darling dolled up in these air-tight bottles from Crate and Barrel.
The labels were purchased at Paper Source. I wrote the names in a fun font, punched a hole, and threaded with baker's twine, which can also be found at Paper Source. Honestly, you can easily make these labels at home. Simply print a stencil, cut it out, and trace on some sturdy paper. Use any string/ribbon you so desire! You could even do peel-on labels and slap 'em on the bottle like I did for our anniversary.
Tied around the top of each bottle are chocolate-almond biscottis in sandwich bags. Don't get the ziplock kind with the seal at the top- they're can be annoying to twist; I picked the generic kind at CVS. These biscottis were homemade, courtesy of David Lebovitz. These biscottis were delicious, rich in both chocolate and almond. If you're not an almond lover, you probably won't care for this recipe. Rolling out the dough was one heck of a work out.
As for the contents of the bottle, I played it safe with some good old fashioned hot cocoa mix. It contains powered milk already so simply add water for an easy cup of happiness.
The spiced chai is a recipe I've wanted to make for a minute. It's not difficult however I strongly encourage going to a spice shop to get the ingredients. A regular store will make you buy more than you need; I hate to let anything go to waste. Personally, I would halve the amount of star anise in the recipe. It's a powerful flavor and really came through.
The eggnog was a solo addition. In a meeting before I made the mixes, I overheard my coworker raving how much she loves eggnog. This was a personal touch because she's one of my favorite people to work with- why the heck not! Plus, I wanted to take a crack at it for Mike's dad anyways- it made a solid test run. Season to your liking, we added lots of extra cinnamon. I did the "cooked" eggnog version.
This formula is great for any occasion. You could do lemonade with shortbread cookies, mixers with a side of lime slices, or cider with mini pumpkin muffins. Have fun with it!
Note: When you do make anything for a bottle, make sure that you have a cooking funnel. It will make the process a million times easier and cleaner. We had a really hard time finding one at generic grocery stores.