I was a mommy on a mission. My goal was to finish shopping for my kids and buy Christmas presents for all of our families. We had a plan and a budget. Armed with checklists and sales ads, my accomplice and I began our marathon at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving. By the time we were done at 7 a.m. Friday, we had gotten most of the things on our lists.
But what happens if a shopper forgets someone or needs a host gift for a Christmas party? That’s when I turn to my stockpile for some great presents.
Food gifts are great. They are relatively easy to make, and a good couponer knows that most of the items can be found in a well-established stockpile. Today, I am sharing two of my favorite Christmas gifts that can be made quickly and easily.
My favorite food gifts are layered jars. For this gift, you need a quart-sized wide-mouth jar, a half-yard of Christmas fabric and some raffia or ribbon. You also need a decorative label, which can be made on a printer with basic cardstock. These items can all be bought with coupons or found in dollar stores.
Here is my recipe for Christmas brownies (brownie mix can be often bought for less than 50 cents after coupons and sales): You need a box of brownie mix and a bag of Christmas M&Ms. Put half of the brownie mix in the jar, then add about ½ cup of the M&Ms. Gently tap the glass until all the airspace has been removed. Once the M&Ms have settled, add the other half of the mix. Then add M&Ms to fill the top as space allows, no more than ½ cup. You can reduce the amount of M&Ms and add nuts or chocolate chips in the top of the jar. Baking directions are the same as those on the box of the brownie mix. Just copy the directions onto your label.
My second recipe is another semi-homemade concoction: Cranberry Pecan Crunch Cookie Mix, from the Gifts in a Jar: Holiday Fun recipe book. You need 2/3 cup of dried cranberries, ½ cup of chopped toasted pecans (completely cooled), ½ cup of dark brown sugar, 1 cup of biscuit and baking mix, ½ cup of light brown sugar and 1 cup of biscuit and baking mix. Layer each ingredient in a wide-mouth quart jar in the order given.
Attach a gift tag with the following instructions: 1 Jar Cranberry Pecan Cookie Mix, ½ cup of butter or margarine (melted), 1 egg and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, egg and vanilla. Add the mix and stir until well blended. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.
Once you have filled your jar, it’s time to decorate it. Take your Christmas fabric and cut out a circle about 1 inch wider than the lid. I use pinking shears to get a zigzag pattern on the edges. Secure the cloth to the jar with a rubber band. Add a pretty red or green ribbon and print out a label. It looks very pretty and festive. This is a perfect hostess, neighbor or teacher gift.
Next week, discover more Christmas gifts in your coupon stockpiles. Until next time, happy shopping!