Whitney Miller’s Sweet & Simple Gift Ideas

Giving a homemade gift is a great way to show a special person how much they mean to you. Homemade doesn’t have to mean expensive or time-consuming, either. Create a sweetened-up gift basket with some colorful selections from the Entertaining Collection and a flavored simple syrup. Your special someone will be able to sweeten his or her tea, lemonade, iced coffee and more with the flavored syrup.

Simple syrups can be flavored with fruits, herbs, and spices. I chose to create vanilla bean and tangerine simple syrups. The vanilla bean is perfect for sweetening coffee or lemonade. I would have never thought of vanilla bean lemonade, until it was recommended at a restaurant. It was surprisingly delicious. Vanilla bean enhances the tart lemonade and gives a sweet finishing touch.

Tangerine Simple Syrup

To create the vanilla bean simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar to a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add a split vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste to taste. Fill a jar or glass container and allow cooling completely. Add a vanilla bean in the glass container to represent the vanilla bean flavor.

Instead of a gift basket, arrange the tumblers and simple syrup in a serving tray or container like this copper one. The copper container is Mississippi-made, which adds a special touch to my gift because it represents my home state.


Tangerine simple syrup is perfect for sweetening tea and complimenting an iced mocha. Chocolate and a citrus like tangerine pairs well together. Add a recipe card to the gift with drink pairings and/or a drink recipe.

For the tangerine simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar to a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add a few slices of tangerine. Remove from the heat and allow infusing and cooling for 30 minutes. Fill a jar or glass container with the simple syrup and tangerine slices.

I hope you have a blessed and sweet Thanksgiving from my family’s table to yours.

Whitney MillerWhen she was just 22, Whitney Miller won the first U.S. season of the Fox show MasterChef. She is the author of Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm. While working on her second cookbook, she frequently travels around the U.S. and as far away as China to conduct cooking demonstrations and culinary classes. For more, visit whitneymiller.net, connect with Whitney MillerH on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @whitneymillerH.