Easy Holiday Recipes for Gifts or Parties


I love scrolling through Pinterest for new recipe ideas. What’s even better is when I hit on a recipe that is so good it becomes a family favorite that we repeat again and again. I want to share a few of those with you to save you from endless scrolling (unless you use that as a way to decompress in this busy season). These are simple recipes that your kids can help with. I have several memories of holiday cooking with my mom, and I hope my kids will too.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

We discovered this recipe when our oldest son was in 5th grade and we were looking for something to make for teacher gifts. He became proficient at this, so I’ve called it Clayton’s Christmas Candy ever since. While it can be gifted, I recommend keeping it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it so that the chocolate doesn’t melt.


1/2 bag mini pretzel twists

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

12 oz. chocolate chips (we prefer milk chocolate)

Coarse salt


Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Lay pretzels in a single layer across the whole pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir continuously until smooth caramel forms and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Pour evenly over the pretzels, using a silicone spatula to spread it to the edges. Place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the caramel. Return to oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven and spread the chocolate with a silicone spatula. Sprinkle coarse salt over the chocolate. Let the pan cool on the countertop for at least 5 minutes, and then place it in the freezer for 2 hours or more. Remove the pan from the freezer and break the bark into pieces with clean hands. Store in an airtight bag or container in the freezer until ready to eat.

Recipe and image credit: https://princessinthekitchen.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/salted-caramel-pretzel-bark/

Cranberry Salsa

This recipe prompted me to ask for a food processor for Christmas a few years ago because I couldn’t wait to try it. I will say, you need a full-size one; a 3-cup mini chopper just won’t cut it (literally). I’m looking forward to making this for our family gathering this Christmas, but you don’t need a special event to enjoy this! My husband and I love to snack on it while watching TV after the kids go to bed.


12 oz fresh cranberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 jalapeno pepper

4 green onions

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 TBSP lime juice

pinch of salt

(2) 8oz blocks of cream cheese


Wash all produce. Wearing gloves, roughly chop the pepper and onion (remove jalapeno seeds for milder salsa or leave seeds for extra spice). Place all ingredients except cream cheese in the food processor. Chop until desired consistency. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for 4 or more hours. To serve, place cream cheese blocks on a plate and pour salsa on top of the cream cheese. I like to serve it with Wheat Thins because they don’t break easily and have a great sweet/salty flavor that pairs so well with this salsa.

Recipe and image credit: https://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/cranberry-salsa-cream-cheese/

Mulled Apple Cider

When I met my husband, he had this recipe written on a post-it note and I have used it every year since. I usually make it for our family when we watch Jingle All The Way together (a favorite Christmas tradition).


2 tsp black peppercorns

4 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp whole cloves

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

64 oz apple juice (I use unfiltered)

lemon zest (optional)

2 TBSP brown sugar

In a large saucepan, toast the whole spices over medium-high heat until aromatic, about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add nutmeg, juice, brown sugar, and lemon zest, if using. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Pour cider through a fine mesh sieve into mugs. Let cool slightly before serving.