This Year’s Best Holiday Gift Set (and how to make almond jelly)

I’ve always loved almond scents. I think it’s because almond jelly, flavored with bizarre-but-delicious imitation almond extract, was one of the few things my dad could cook. It was always a treat when he made this simple dessert and I still associate the sweet smell of almonds with comfort and cleanliness (maybe because of almond jelly’s pristine white color?). That’s why my pick for this year’s best holiday gift set is L’Occitane’s Almond Enchantment. Not only is it a great value at $68 (instead of $98), but it also comes packed with a just-for-holiday jumbo bottle of my favorite Almond Shower Oil—with a pump! 

Now why is Almond Shower Oil so great? Well, first of all, it’s a delicious-smelling body shower oil that transforms into a moisturizing, creamy milk cleanser when you mix it with water. Secondly, it’s a great shave oil that will leave your legs silky soft.

Last, but not least, you can get giant, 16.9 oz refills, which are oh-so eco-friendly (not to mention economical—the refills are only $36 each). Did you know that L’Occitane even sold refills? I certainly didn’t! They have them for the hand soaps as well.

By the way, did I mention that I love the value of gift sets so much that I find it’s a great time to stock up on favorites for myself as well?

Almond Jelly (also known as almond tofu): There are many just-add-water-type mixes available—I find the Thai ones are best. But if you want to make it from scratch like my dad did, here’s how…

*  Knox Unflavored Gelatin (Follow the directions on the package but instead of just using hot water, first dissolve the gelatin in about half the amount of hot water and add in some milk to create the milky color. Just remember to subtract the amount of milk you use from the total amount of water you add)

*  Milk (If you’re using cold milk, make sure to whisk the gelatin mixture while you’re adding it so the gelatin doesn’t harden into chunks. I prefer whole milk because it makes the jelly more opaque and creamy-looking, but skim works fine too. I’ve never tried this with almond milk, but it should work too)

*  Almond Extract (Imitation works fine too. Start with one capful and smell the mixture. if you want more almond flavor, add another capful. Just don’t go overboard or else the jelly will taste weirdly alcoholic)

*  Sugar (to taste)