Friday, 17 December 2010

Holiday Gifting

It's time to fess up.   This is the first year I did no holiday baking for Joey's Christmas presents at work.   Our church pie bake sale has taken its toll, I think, but it was so much fun!

I actually bought cookies (nice ones, but store-bought!), but I did make the two recipes below, so there was some homemade element.   Mama's got to do what Mama's got to do!

Here's a cute way to give cookies.   I wish they were homemade, but at least the packaging shows I put thought into these gifts for some special people.   I want people to feel special when they receive a gift from me.   After all, it's about them!

I got this idea from a Southern Living Christmas book.   They used milk glasses in antique metal milk bottle carriers.   For this gift, the black caddy is from the Better Homes and Gardens line at Wal-Mart.   This is the half-pint size, made for canning jars.   You can find them in the canning section, in various sizes.   I just bought two standard glasses that looked like great milk glasses (get wide ones) and filled them with cookies.   I bagged the cookies in decorative bags.  I like this because you could keep the glasses in the caddy and use it as a flatware caddy on a buffet when entertaining or you could place jar candles or other decorative items in them.  Plus, it's small and can be used year-round.   I hate to give gifts that add clutter to people's lives.   I try to think ahead to a gift's possible other uses.

I also made gift baskets filled with homemade cocoa mix, homemade marshmallows, chocolate candy, a holiday tea towel, a sampler of coffee and a glass mug.   I like the look of a glass mug and these are made in USA.   I worry about possible lead contamination in some ceramic cups.   I can always use extra kitchen towels, so I like to tuck those into gifts.   The basket is solid green, so it can be used at times other than Christmas and it's a nice size for paper dinner napkins.  

My friend Amber makes peppermint marshmallows every year at Christmas.   This recipe is copied from Martha Stewart Living.  It was my first time to try them.   Delicious, pretty, and not that difficult.   You just have to have a block of time to work on them without distraction.   A stand mixer is a must.   Have powdered sugar ready for cutting.   My Pampered Chef sugar shaker came in handy.   After each cut, powder the squares on all size so they won't get sticky. 

Here's the link to the recipe:

Alton Brown's Hot Cocoa Mix

Here's a nice, rich recipe for a dry mix.   I just mixed it and put it in air-tight glass jars and paired it with the marshmallows above.   Yes, it's easier to buy cocoa packets, but they usually aren't as good and this shows you took care and effort to prepare the gift.  

Here's the link for the cocoa mix:

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