Monday, October 26, 2009

Nine Mondays and Counting

As promised I'm going to share a couple of recipes for gifts in a jar that are economical and fun to give and receive.

How many times have we gotten gifts that we just can't use? All that's going to happen to them is they're going to get stuffed in the back of a closet, set on a shelf and collect dust, or re-gifted. (I'm not the only one that does I???)

That is why I try oh-so hard to match gifts with personalities. I try to truly listen to friends and family during the year and find out what they really love.

I have one friend who LOVES candles. She loves different scents and she almost always has one burning. It just makes plain sense to spend some time looking for a candle that she will love. I begin early and search and search until that one just pops out at me!! Like me, she loves a bargain, so she's not going to be offended if I waited until Hobby Lobby had it half off or if I got it free with coupons!! Her family struggles with "always buying candles", but my thinking is that if that is what she truly loves, then wouldn't it make her truly happy????

What I'm trying to say is plan, plan, plan.

If you can't afford to buy individual gifts, then do family gifts. You can easily hand out warm fuzzies for $2-$10 a family!!!

Each time I'm in the thrift store, I go back to the glassware and look for mason jars. Most of the time I can find them for 25-35¢. That's a bargain in anyones wallet.

Below is two of my favorite recipes for gifts in a jar.

Hot Cocoa Mix

4 Cups instant non-fat dry milk powder
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup powdered non-dairy creamer
2/3 Cup unsweetened cocoa
Mix all the ingredients in a dry bowl. (Using a whisk makes this much easier!) Make sure you have no clumps in your mix. You can put this into your mason jars or if you have found some decorative canisters that seal well, you can use those.
Tie a pretty ribbon around the jar and attach a card to it with this on it:
Put 1/3 cup mix in a mug. Fill boiling water to the top. Mix well.

Sand Castle Brownies

1/3 cup chopped nuts
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1½ cups all-purpose flour

In your jar or canister, layer these 6 ingredients in the order listed, packing well.
Again, tie a pretty ribbon around the jar and attach a card with these instructions:

Sand Castle Brownies

1 jar brownie mix
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well in a bowl. Spread into a greased 8 inch square baking pan. Bake at 350ยบ for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

A couple of other ideas that are cheap, yet will bring smiles to a family are:

~~Look at your thrift store for beautiful platters. These can often be found for 50¢-$3. Fill them with fresh cookies and banana bread from your kitchen.

~~Give a movie night. Purchase a large, festive, plastic bowl, some microwave popcorn and a $5 movie rental gift card. Put the popcorn, and gift card inside the bowl, wrap with ribbon!!

~~Go to the dollar store and purchase mugs for each member of the family. Make sure you match the mug with the different personalities. Pick up some plastic spoons and some chocolate almond bark. Melt the chocolate and dip the end of the spoon in the chocolate. Let harden. Wrap 2 or 3 of the spoons in plastic wrap, tie with a ribbon and put them inside the mug. Set the mugs in a basket, again tying a pretty ribbon to the handle of the basket.

~~Give a board game. In our electronic age, board games have fallen by the wayside along with family together time. A sharp eye can often catch board games on sale for under $10.

Hope this encourages you, inspires you and helps you to release the pressure that we often put on ourselves that if a gift isn't expensive, folks won't be happy.


Sandy said...

Deb, I try really hard to do that to, get something that is something they will want and use. And, I have a couple Gifts in a Jar books. I have made both that you shared.
Thank you for your post!

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe said...

Great ideas!

Maria said...

Hi! The brownie mix sounds great! I also love the gift list~
Instead of so much baked goods coming all at once the mixes will come in handy later in January when all the goodies are gone!
The movie night basket can also get another contribution of a cozy fleece blankie to snuggle under :)

Collette@Jesuslovesmums said...

These are great ideas! My Christmas will be a frugal one this year and this has given me some good ideas!
Love Collette xxx