Christmas jumper? Silly socks? Del-boy DVD? It’s just all a bit meh. Rustle up your own pickle, sauce, chutney or jam and give a gluttonous gift instead this year. It’s easy. Promise!

OK. Making your own sauces and preserves has a pretty fuddy-duddy image, but you don’t have to join the WI. These recipes are easy, scrumptious and make original gifts. And you can eat them! What’s better than that?

The Speedy Gonzales

Only 15 minutes to spare? Then make this quick salted caramel sauce. Left to cool and poured into a sterilised jam jar (see tip below), it’s delicious dolloped on mince pies or drizzled over Christmas granola. A lip-smacker of a sauce. 

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Quick salted caramel sauce

Photograph: Maja Smend


Slow-mo marmalade

What’s the hurry? Avoid the furious frenzy and safari stampedes of the Christmas shopping experience and stay at home making marmalade instead. Yes, Sarah Randell's recipe takes some 3 AND A HALF HOURS, but only a fraction of that time requires any effort from you. Plus, while it’s bubbling away you are still technically cooking, which means you can snuggle up and do nothing. Result. In our opinion. 

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Seville orange marmalade

Photograph: Martin Poole


A relish to relish

Visiting friends for Boxing Day? Then take along Sybil Kapoor's cinnamon-spiced pineapple relish. It's tropical, spicy and utterly delish with ham. This one only lasts a couple of days, but don't worry, it’s bound to be gobbled up. 

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Glazed gammon with spiced pineapple and orange relish

Photograph: Keiko Oihawa


Some like it hot

If you’ve got a friend who does, leave the seeds in Katie Caldesi's chilli jam and it’ll really blow their head off. Spread on bread in place of butter it transforms a dry turkey sarnie into something rather special. Go on my son.

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Tomato, chilli and ginger jam

Photograph: Jenna Leiter


Posh pals?

We've all got them. The cashmere-loving, designer-donning chums who openly admit they have everything. But do they? Do they, for instance, have a luxurious, irresistible, chocolate pecan spread made by you in their cupboard? No they don’t. Swirl in some melted white chocolate for a stylish two-tone effect and watch even the hardest to please swoon. 

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The boozers' choice

Give five people one bottle of mulled wine to share and they’d call you Ebenezer. But use it to make five jars of Lucy Jessop's boozy cranberry chutney and you'll be hugged and squeezed to within an inch of your life. This is way cheaper than buying everyone a bottle of grog and more individual, too. 

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Mulled cranberry and red onion chutney

Photograph: Martin Poole


Wish you were here?

This isn’t any cranberry sauce. This is Marcus Wareing’s cranberry sauce. And you don’t get Michelin stars for nothing. Give the family a jar if you can’t be with them on Christmas day and they’ll think of you even more lovingly as they tuck into the turkey. Flavoured with cinnamon, star anise, cardamom and port, you can’t get this in the shops. 

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Cranberry and orange compote

Photograph: Jonathan Gregson


All in a pickle

Don’t get in a pickle over the pressies this year, make one instead! Tangy, spicy and full-flavoured, this brave-hearted little pickle can take on Stilton and even the smelliest Stinking Bishop. Go crackers if you like and make the Christmas tree biscuits, too.

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Apple, prune & ginger pickle

How to sterilise a jam jar

You definitely want lovely clean jars so your Christmas preserves are at their best when they're gobbled up. Here's how to do it:

1. Preheat your oven to 140°C, fan 120°C, gas 1. 

2. Wash your jam jars in hot, soapy water and rinse.

3. Place the wet jars in a roasting tray and put it in the oven. Leave them there for at least half an hour while you make the jam.

Fill your jars, then cover with a waxed paper disc that's been cut to size. Cover while still warm and adorn with ribbons, labels or sparkly stickers.