DIY Holiday Food Gifts to Share with Friends

Recipe by Leandra Rouse | Photo by Samantha Emmons

A homemade edible gift is thoughtful enough to give to a friend, and general enough to give to a hostess, neighbor, coworker, or in-law. Either way, a gift of food suggests comfort, thoughtfulness and care.

So why not spoil your friends this year with an edible gift that inspires balance? First, this popcorn and spice combo can be made in bulk and packaged beautifully. It is also shelf stable, which means you can make it ahead of holiday madness. The spice blends are versatile—great on popcorn, but also fantastic as a protein rub or a topper on grains, dips, and salads. 

In the first recipe we share two spice blends that taste great on popcorn—Middle Eastern Za’atar, made with sesame and oregano, which pairs beautifully with olive oil. The popcorn mix can be boosted with the addition of chopped almonds, pistachios, or sunflower seeds. And Japanese Seaweed Salt, a simple homemade furikake, pairs well with sesame oil and butter. The popcorn mix can be boosted with the addition of crushed rice crackers and sesame seeds. 

Dried yellow popcorn kernels can be found at most grocery stores. And colorful heirloom varieties can be found on many online grocery retailers. 

For the second recipe, we share a fresh tea blend that makes a thoughtful gift to tell your friends you care about them. We know that sleep is a pillar of good health that many people struggle with and sipping tea at the end of the night is a great way to wind down from the day and decompress. A fresh loose tea blend is an inviting alternative to the stale tea bags in our cabinets. 

Sleepy tea is a crowd favorite for its flavor and targeted natural benefits. This recipe is a loose tea blend with chamomile, passion flower, and valerian to down regulate the nervous system and calm the nerves in preparation for a good night’s rest.

You can buy bulk herbs at a local herb shop or online retailers like Mt Rose Herbs. Buying herbs in bulk makes them more affordable, and gives you the ingredients to create a unique blend based on your personal taste.  

Keep yourself and those around you cozy, calm, and relaxed this winter season. 


1 lb popcorn kernels, no oil or salt added (Makes approximately 15 servings of popcorn)

Za’atar Blend (makes about 1 cup of Zatar, approximately 15 servings) 

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds 

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons dried marjoram

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt 

1/4 cup ground sumac (Optional) 

Furikake (makes about 1 cup of Furikake, approximately 15 servings) 

1-1/2 teaspoons dried orange or tangerine zest

3/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic

3 2-inch squares toasted nori

1-3 teaspoon dried bonito flakes, (optional and to taste)

1-1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Spices will store in an airtight container for approximately 3 months. 

Popcorn, 6 months- 1 year


To make the Za’atar blend, begin by toasting sesame seeds until they are golden brown and fragrant, approximately 3 minutes. Then in a medium bowl or mortar and pestle, combine toasted sesame seeds with additional herbs and toss until mixed. Bottle in an airtight container. 

To make the Furikake blend, begin by drying orange peels and garlic. For the oranges, use a paring knife or sharp vegetable peeler to remove the skin leaving behind the white pith. Scrape off any pith that is left on the peel. Lay the strips of orange peel on parchment paper covered baking sheets and dry at 200 for 20 to 30 minutes. Once dry, blitz until coarse in a food processor. Any additional dried citrus zest not used in this furikake recipe can be added to marinades, salad dressings or cocktails.  

A note on citrus selection: Citrus is a heavily sprayed crop. When eating the peel it is best to use a naturally grown fruit and/or wash the citrus skin well before using.

For dried garlic, peel 5 cloves of garlic. These can be roasted alongside the orange peels at the same temperature and time—dry at 200 for 20 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the garlic, flipping once it begins to dry and removing from the oven once it is firm to the touch and light brown. Once cool, blitz until coarse in a food processor.

Lastly, blitz the nori sheets and bonito flakes in the food processor until coarsely chopped. 

Then add all the additional ingredients into the food processor, and blitz once more to combine in a course blend. Transfer to a bottle. 

When the holidays arrive, bottle, wrap, and share proudly. Your loved ones will appreciate the thoughtful gesture and the departure from holiday sweets. 


Calories 15

Protein 1 g

Total fat 1 g

Saturated fat 0 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Carbs 2 g

Fiber 1 g

Total sugars 0 g

Added sugars 0 g

Sodium 217 mg


Calories 15

Protein 1 g

Total fat 0 g

Saturated fat 0 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Carbs 2 g

Fiber 0 g

Total sugars 0 g

Added sugars 0 g

Sodium 20 mg


2 cups chamomile blossoms

1 cup lemongrass

1 cup valerian 

1 cup passion flower

1/2 cup dried rose petals 

½ tablespoon ginger root 


Blend the loose herbs and store them in an airtight container for up to six months. To use, fill either a tea ball or a French press with herbs and cover with boiling water. Enjoy sleep tea 1 hour before bed time. Serve with honey if desired. 

Tea can be stored in a cool pantry for up to six months.

Makes 6 cups of loose tea.

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