Even if you still have 5 or 50 teachers, students, neighbors, co-workers, family friends, kids’ friends, classmates, cousins, uncles, aunts, employees or service providers on your gift list—don’t panic! You still have time. And don’t worry: You do not need a lot of money nor must you the gift of craftiness to assemble fabulous gifts in your kitchen. Yes, even at this late date.
You’ll never go wrong giving a gift that is meant to be eaten or used up. That kind of gift does its job to convey your love and best wishes without increasing the recipients’ stuff-factor.
You will need containers for these gifts and the possibilities are endless. My favorite: Clear cellophane bags for 10 to 15 cents each (some are printed with holiday motifs). Find these at craft stores like Michaels, JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby; at cake and candy supply stores. Think assembly line and you can turn out dozens of gifts in a single day. So gather your supplies, set up your production line and let the fun begin!
Santa Claus Cookies
- 1 package Nutter Butter (or Vienna Fingers) sandwich cookies
- 12-oz. white chocolate wafers or chips*
- Red sprinkles or red-colored sugar
- 32 vanilla or white chips, not melted
- 64 mini chocolate baking chips
- 32 red-hot candies
Melt the white chocolate. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate. Place on wire racks. Quickly sprinkle red sugar on top part of chocolate. Press one vanilla chip off-center on hat for pom-pom; let stand until set.
Dip other end of each cookie into chocolate for beard, leaving center of cookie uncovered. Place on wire racks. With a dab of melted chocolate, attach semisweet chips for eyes and a red-hot for nose in the uncovered area. Place on waxed paper to set. Yield: 32 cookies.
Melt your choice of melting wafers, chocolate bars or chips (*see notes following) according to package instructions. (Or melt chocolate chips in microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time. Stir in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil for every 1 ounce of chocolate.) Dip pretzels of any size or shape. Place on wax paper to harden. You’re done. Sample one and you’ll know why this is possibly the best of all edible holiday treats.
Repackage Most Anything
Get a big bag of nuts, candies or other treats. Repackage into smaller holiday containers, mugs, bags of your choice. Embellish. That’s it, you’re done.
Tip: A 3-pound bag of pistachios in the shell costs less than $20 at Costco (look in the nuts and cracker aisles). Mixed with Hershey’s Kisses that come wrapped in festive holidays colors, pistachios and chocolate make for a perfect combination. Dump the entire bags of pistachios and wrapped kisses into a large bowl or another container. Mix ’em up. Now repackage this fun chocolate/nut combination into as many individual and attractive gifts are you need.
World’s Best Hot Chocolate Mix
- 4 cups powdered milk powder
- 1 16-oz. jar CoffeeMate Original Powdered Coffee Creamer
- 1 16-oz. box powdered sugar
- 1 21.8-ounce box Nestle Nesquick Chocolate Milkshake Powder (not cocoa)
Dump all ingredients into a very large container (bowl, pan or plastic bag). Mix thoroughly. Store in a tightly sealed individual gift containers. Create and then add this information to a decorative tag for your awesome gifts: “Measure 1/3 to 1/2 cup mix into a mug and fill with hot water. Mix well. Enjoy!”
Sinfully Easy Fudge
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 cup pecan or walnut pieces
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (like Eagle Brand)
- 7 oz. milk chocolate, chopped (or milk chocolate chips)
- 11 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8x2-inch pan with foil and grease well with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Set aside.
Spread nuts on a baking sheet and roast until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. While nuts are hot, stir in 1 tablespoon butter and sprinkle with salt.
Combine the condensed milk and all the chocolate in a large glass bowl and melt in the microwave at 50 percent power for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently (or on the stovetop over low to medium heat stirring constantly) until chocolate melts.
Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla and roasted nuts. Pour into the prepared pan. Refrigerate to cool and set. Remove from pan, peel off foil and cut into squares.
Crunch ‘n Munch
- 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- Pinch of salt
- 4 cups Corn Chex, Rice Chex or Crispix cereal OR 3 cups bran or wheat Chex.
Mix sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Melt butter or margarine in large skillet. Add cereal and mix well. Heat over medium heat stirring until coated (5 to 6 minutes). Sprinkle 1/2 of the sugar mixture over the cereal and continue stirring until well coated. Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture and heat several more minutes. Spread on a layer of wax paper or foil to cool. Yield: 3 to 4 cups.
This recipe multiplies well if you have a very large skillet.
Mix leftover broken pretzel and nut pieces in a bowl. You want small pieces. Pour melted chocolate (white, milk, dark or whatever you have) over everything in the bowl and stir. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper on cookie sheet. Cool. Yum!
*Chocolate melting notes: Melting wafers are chocolate that’s formulated for making candy. They are inexpensive and easy to use. Melt ‘n Mold is one brand available at grocery stores, cake and candy supply stores, and craft stores. Chocolate bars and bakers chocolate melt well. Chocolate chips, however, are formulated to resist melting. If chips are your only option, you can melt them but it’s tricky. Stir in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil per 1 ounce of chips. Microwave on medium power at 30-second intervals, stirring well after each interval, until the consistency is perfect for dipping.