I LOVE this time of year: the food, the decorations, the music, all the parties and celebrations, spending time with family. I especially love giving gifts. Finding the perfect something for all the people in my life is like solving a big warm-fuzzy puzzle.

But my nostalgic holiday idealism is always at odds with true-life realism. I'm busy. We're all busy. And short on cash after three trips to the toy store. If I'm being honest I will admit that while I love Christmas, every year I get stressed out because there's not enough time for everything I need to do and not enough money for all the stuff I want to buy. And then it happens, always at the eleventh-and-a- half hour, that I remember: teacher gifts, co-worker gifts and last-minute hostess gifts for the party I sort of forgot about until now. Does this stressful predicament sound familiar?

This year, I want to head off some unnecessary stress by planning ahead. What I love about the six homemade gift ideas that follow is that you can whip them up in less than 10 minutes. No baking, no time-consuming crafting, no mess. They are things that I would be happy to receive myself, which is my simple barometer for a good present. If you can buy the ingredients in the bulk section at your supermarket, then they are low-cost as well. Just keep the ingredients and a few pretty jars on hand, download some printable gift tags, and you have yourself some lovely gifts for all of those last-minute needs.

Give the gift of a healthy breakfast with a hot cereal mix. Tie on a gift tag that includes the recipe for turning the dry mix into hot cereal.

Herb & Spice Mixes

These spice mixes are perfect to give as a hostess gift along with a recipe card for turning them into a dip or vinaigrette. For the freshest, most economical spices, head to a store that has a large, well-stocked bulk spice department. Choose from the following flavors or make a gift pack of all four!

Make a few batches of homemade pancake mix to give as gifts. Dried blueberries give the pancakes a rich blueberry flavor and the pecans liven up the texture with a bit of crunch. Include a gift tag with a recipe for turning the mix into pancakes.

Gourmet Rub Gift Set

A set of spice rubs is the perfect gift for the gourmand on your list or for someone who is just ­starting to experiment with cooking at home. Rubs are a quick way to add big flavor to lean meat, chicken, fish, seafood, tofu and even sauces. Store airtight in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

Making dry soup mix from beans and spices couldn't be easier. Layered in a jar, it makes a very pretty gift. Tie on a gift tag that includes the recipe for turning the dry mix into soup.

Sometimes a nonfood gift is the best route, particularly if the recipient has food allergies or is following a specific diet plan. I love this homemade salt scrub from Lily Diamond, of the popular L.A.-based food and lifestyle blog While the all-natural scrub is completely edible-we don't recommend eating it!