Christmas Gifts From Your Kitchen
To me, Christmas is the best time of the year; however, it is also the most expensive time of the year. Every year you have to come up with gifts for teachers, co-workers, neighbors, friends and the list goes on and on. It can get very costly even if you only buy each person a $5 gift. I know many people are trying to cut back this year, but still want to give a gift to those they love and appreciate. I think the best way to show this is by giving a homemade gift. Being that I am a frugal foodie, I immediately think of giving a “kitchen gift”! Who doesn’t love homemade goodies? They are fun to make, inexpensive, and you can get the kids involved!
My advice would be to pick one or two gifts to make for everyone. Now, narrowing it down is the hardest part, but by doing that it will save you time as well as cut back on your costs. I want to share with you some of the things that I have made in the past. Some of these ideas are more simple than others, but all are equally tasty! Caramel corn, Biscotti, Caramels, Chex Muddy Munch, Cookies, Chocolate Dipped Spoons, Peppermint Bark, Chai Tea Mix, Hot Chocolate Mix, Toffee, Cinnamon Rolls, Cookie in a Jar, Cranberry Orange Bread, Banana Bread, Flavored Oils, Hard Tack Candy, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Fudge….OK, I will stop now, this could end up a never ending list! Sorry, I get really carried away when it comes to baking!
Once you settle on what to make, it is time to get creative! The way you package your gift is what makes it so attractive! There is nothing wrong with slapping cookies on a paper plate, but WHY??? There are so many unique, inexpensive alternatives just waiting to be used! Here is a picture of some different ideas that I have used. Hopefully they get your mind flowing, and you can think of some more. You can buy a cute pair of socks at the dollar store and fill them with homemade caramels. Mittens would be just as cute! Good old Mason jars are also a good option. Re-gift cute tins, baskets, and so forth. Holiday take out containers are adorable! A mug from the dollar store looks nice filled with a bag of homemade chai tea! You can also recycle old jars or cans by wrapping them with gift wrap and tying a cute gift tag to them. I also like to include the recipe with the item I give.
Here are 3 of my favorite things to make for gifts each year. Chai tea mix, homemade caramels, and Candy Cane cookies. The chai tea is absolutely wonderful! I make a big thing for myself each year, I think it is just as good as what you get at Starbucks! The nice thing about the caramels is that they make A LOT! They do require some time to cut and wrap, but are well worth the effort. I know a lot of people who would be VERY upset if I didn’t make these. The last is Candy Cane cookies, my absolute favorite cookie (any time of the year)! Each year I sell about 140 dozen Christmas cookies (yes, you read that right and yes, I am crazy) and these seem to be the most popular. I love that they actually have a peppermint flavor, unlike most that are just sugar cookies shaped into candy canes. So, I hope you try these things and enjoy them as much as my family does!
Chai Tea Mix
- 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
- 1 cup french vanilla non-dairy creamer
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups instant tea
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir together. Put mixture in a food processor or blender and blend until it is a fine powder. Stir in 2 heaping tablespoons into a mug of hot water.
*adapted from all recipes
- 1 cup butter
- 2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 cup light colored corn syrup
- 1-14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
1.Line an 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan with foil. Extend the foil over the edges of the pan. Butter the foil.
2.In a 3 qt. heavy saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, condensed milk, and corn syrup; mix well. Cook and stir over med-high heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, stead rate, stirring frequently, until the thermometer registers 248 degrees F, firm ball stage(15-20 minutes). (adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil.)
3.Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Quickly pour mixture into prepared pan. When firm, use foil to lift it out of pan. Use a buttered knife to cut into 1 inch squares. Wrap each piece in wax paper.
Candy Cane Cookies
- 1 cup softened butter or margarine
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- dash of salt
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- red food coloring
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- enough water to brush or drizzle on cookies
In a large bowl, beat margarine until soft. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, peppermint, and salt. Beat well. Add flour and beat well. Divide dough into two equal balls. Color one red (it really will just be pinkish). Chill 30 minutes.
For each candy cane, scoop 1 teaspoonful of plain dough and 1 teaspoonful of the red dough. Roll each dough portion between your hands to make a 4 inch rope. Twist together, pinch ends, and form into a candy cane. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 8-9 minutes. Let cool and drizzle glaze on cookies!
Katie is a Christian wife who loves discovering how to do things the old-fashioned way! Her blog is dedicated to serving up big flavors on a bland budget. At The Cutting Back Kitchen you will find lots of recipes, money saving ideas, and frugal kitchen tips!