Christmas · Gifts

Practical Gift-Giving Guide

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My Monday’s posts are typically food related, and while today’s post does have some food, it’s primarily food ideas rather than recipes.

With Christmas approaching, I wanted to use today to share some fun and terrific gift ideas with you! Figuring out what to give people is hard for me.  Maybe it is for you too, so I thought you might appreciate some suggestions from a friend of mine. She has the gift of giving the perfect gifts! This friend is Vickie Stykes. She has prepared gift baskets to welcome our guest speakers at church or visiting missionaries in years past. She could think of such clever things to add to each basket to make it personal and useful! She has also made and purchased gifts to give away at our church’s ladies’ retreats, and trust me, those gifts are always much desired!

Some years ago Vickie shared a list of ideas with our church ladies about baskets and bags of gifts to give to certain categories of people.  Single moms, grandparents, teens, bakers, crafters,  there are gifts for all!  I’m sure you’ll find some wonderful ideas for even the hardest person to buy for!

CHRISTMAS GIFT BASKETS/BAGS
Christmas gifts do not have to be expensive, just filled with love from you. Here are some of my favorite suggestions. — Vickie Stykes

1. For the single person or newlywed couple: Make a favorite meal gift bag/box. Examples:
“Italian Feast”- Include a box of spaghetti, noodles, homemade or canned spaghetti sauce, can of mushrooms, bag of salad, loaf of bread and checked napkins to complete the gift.
“Favorite Sunday Dinner” –Prepare a roast ahead and freeze, wrap thoroughly in aluminum foil to include in gift bag/box. Include potatoes, carrots, onions, can of green beans, pkg. of rolls and homemade dessert or even a frozen fruit pie would be good. Meal can be ready in a short time.
“Pizza Please” – Include a box of pizza dough mix, pizza sauce, pkg. cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, green pepper, onion, or any other pizza toppings you may want to include. You may also add a bag of salad mix. For an extra bonus include a pizza stone and cutter. You may want to add a video gift card for a “pizza and movie night”.

2. For the grandparents: Give car wash coupons, gas cards, favorite magazine subscriptions, grocery store gift cards or beauty/barber shop gift certificates, photo albums, etc. Decorate a gingerbread house for their Christmas enjoyment.

3. Let your children make special help make a memory album including a video or tape recording messages for those who live miles away. Include some photos throughout the year of special events, birthdays, vacations, etc.

4. Stationery Basket: Can be used as a hostess gift, for a college student, the newlyweds, grandparents, senior saint, someone recovering from surgery/illness, secretary, a special friend, teacher, etc. Include: stationery for those who still write letters or notes, thank you and various other cards, stamps, monogrammed cards or seals, address book, pen, etc.

5. For the baker – Baking Bag/Basket: Include items for baking such as 10-X sugar, chocolate chips and other flavored baking chips, nuts, cocoa, Eagle Brand Milk, cake mixes, a dessert cookbook, etc. May also include a baking sheet, spring-form pan or Bundt pan, Silpat sheet for cookies or parchment paper, cookie cutters, cookie sprinkles and cake decorating equipment, gingerbread house kit, etc. Complete kits can be purchased for around $10.00. You may even want to complete the gingerbread house and give it as a kit to someone special.

6. Wrapping Paper Bag/Basket: Include a variety of wrapping paper, gift bags, tape, scissors, blank gift cards, ribbon, tissue paper, etc.

7. Card-making Bag/Basket: Include a storage container for supplies, a variety of card stock, envelopes, decorative papers, scissors, glue sticks, stickers, etc.

8. For those serving in the military or who have served in years past: Prepare a photo frame with the soldier in uniform to give to his wife, children, or parents. If more than one generation has served in the military include photos of each one, include the branch of service, purchase military seals, etc. Make a shadow box of the soldier’s medals, hat, special pieces of uniform, etc. Use patriotic fabric as a background or include a small flag draped across background.

9. For your adult child: Prepare a history story beginning with their birth up to the present including dates, schools, friends, special events and awards, first events (first haircut, lost tooth, overnight stay, camp, etc.) 

10. Cookie Jar Recipe: Prepare a quart jar filled with layered baking ingredients for your favorite cookie recipe. Cover top with decorative fabric or paper circle, tie with ribbon and attach mixing/baking instructions. Also include a batch of the cookies with the jar if possible.

11. Hot Cocoa Mix: Prepare batch of homemade cocoa mix, place amount in zip-lock baggie for 2-3 cups. Purchase a decorative mug and place cocoa mix inside with instructions for amount to use. Give cocoa mug alone or with a dozen homemade cookies. Could also give several mug sets for a family gift and include larger amount of cocoa in decorative tin. This makes a good teacher gift, neighbor gift, doctor or special person gift, etc.

12. Recipe Book: Write your own favorite recipes, poems, stories, traditions, photos and include in a notebook as a special gift for your adult child, friend, relative, etc.

13. Basket from Grandma: Perfect gift for grown grandchild from grandmother or to give to grandparents or teachers! Include a jar of your favorite homemade jelly/jam or apple butter and a loaf of homemade bread. If you are not a bread maker, include muffins or muffin mixes to eat with jelly/jam.

14. Auto-Care Basket: Gift for a college student, grandparent, for a boy with his first car, for dad, a boss, etc. Include car wash coupons, gas cards, car deodorizers, Rain-X, Amoral, chamois cloth, car wash mop, personalized license plate, travel atlas, maps, roadside emergency kit, Kleenex, paper towels, trash container, music CD or book, etc. for unique gifts.

Be sure to bookmark this page; it will be helpful not just at Christmas, but all year long!

Which of these ideas are your favorite?

Refresh your gift-giving with a clever suggestion!

Denise

 

 

baking · Christmas · Gifts · Uncategorized

Hot Chocolate Mug Cake

How does this sound – Hot, gooey, fudgy cake ready in 90 seconds?! Not only is it really delicious cake, it can also be assembled to give as a special gift for the chocolate lover in your life!  Can you think of anyone who would appreciate a hot little cake that is ready except for three little ingredients?  Mix it up, pop it into the microwave, and in 90 seconds the cake is ready to eat!

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I found this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Mug Cake in the recent edition of Southern Living Magazine.  I whipped up four of these for my neighbors this week and they were super easy and cute as well!  Each mug makes a really generous portion – so you could even share, but hey, it’s Christmas, right?  You might want to enjoy the whole mug yourself!

Here are the ingredients:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients

DRY MIX

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans
  • 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons mini marshmallow

 

How to Make It

Step 1

For each cake, combine all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, kosher salt, unsweetened cocoa, chopped toasted pecans, bittersweet chocolate chips, baking powder, and cinnamon in a small food-safe gift bag. Place mini marshmallows in a separate bag. Place both bags inside a 12-oz. microwavable mug.

Step 2

To prepare each cake, stir whole milk, canola oil, and vanilla extract into the dry ingredients in mug. Microwave on HIGH until cake rises and is cooked through, 60 to 90 seconds. Remove from microwave; sprinkle marshmallows on top. Microwave on HIGH 5 more seconds. Serve immediately.

Here’s how I wrapped mine up to give away:

 

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You might not be able to have everyone you love over for chocolate cake, but with this simple recipe, you might be able to give them all a cake of their own!

You can watch a video of the process here:

Happy baking/Gift-giving!

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Gifts · hospitality

Hostess Gift Guide

Hostess gift

When someone invites you into their home, they’ve gone out of their way to do so.  What do you to do let them know how much you appreciate their kindness and hospitality?  There are lots of creative things to do, and I got to share a few fun/frugal ideas on my daughter’s You tube channel today.  I hope you’ll go here and check out the whole video we did together!

My mind has been reeling since we filmed that video and I’ve thought a whole list of other ideas you could give to say Thank you!

  1. Buy single, large plates as you  find them on sale or at Goodwill shops.  Use them to fill with piles of cookies or goodies.  No need to return the plate!
  2. A special book or cookbook is a long-remembered gift.
  3. Bags of Coffee or a box of Teas, as well as a container of cream, if you know their preference.
  4. Room Spray in a mild fragrance
  5. Bath splurge items – Bath bomb, bubbles or special soap
  6. Special Kitchen soaps and dish cloths
  7. Oven mitts, or hot pads tied together with a pretty ribbon
  8. Olive oil – Even special flavored oils would be nice, accompanied by dipping spices
  9. Bakery or homemade bread and a jar of jam (maybe even also homemade!)
  10. Gift card for a special place for dessert
  11. Pretty pads of paper for kitchen memos and a pen
  12. A guest book for them to log the guests that come into their home.
  13. Cloth napkins
  14. Spices or herbs in pretty jars
  15. Holiday cookie accessories – Sprinkles and/or cookie cutters

Don’t go empty handed this holiday season.  Be a gracious guest and let your hostess how much you appreciate them inviting you into their busy lives and home!

Do you have another suggestion for a hostess gift?

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