“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”, A Tale of Two Cities,
by Charles Dickens
Now that the holiday season is quickly approaching, thoughts about the added cost of gift giving are beginning to fill your mind. This a reality no matter how much money you have available to spend. Budgeting for toys and other surprises for your children tend to add stress in your life. This time of year
is just hard
because financial obligations have to be juggled to meet your festive goals. Your concerns about
pile up because of your desire to give special gifts to family members and friends. Co-workers, your child’s teachers, and many others creep onto your gift list, too.
should never take away your peace and happiness during the holiday season. Unfortunately, they often do.
for you. I would like to share some unique ideas that will greatly reduce your concerns about money and gift-giving. Making food gifts will resolve your concerns. In fact,
doing so as a family will create joyful memories and will be a lot of fun!
Ideas For Fun Holiday Food Gifts
- Involve your child in sharing their artwork on personalized cards and gift tags. Children should also be encouraged to create the family gift wrapping by coloring plain white or brown rolled paper. Food gifts could be covered with this wrapping paper and the gift tags may be attached.
- Create your own unique greeting cards and gift tags by adding family photographs or meaningful poems and verses. These may be attached to the food gifts.
- Make a beautiful coupon and give it to grandparents or elderly neighbors or friends entitling them to a home cooked meal at their home prepared by your entire family in the near future.
- Wipe out a shoe box and lid and line each piece with foil. Make it into a beautiful gift box by carefully decorating each piece with festive wrapping paper. Fill the gift box with homemade cookies or a loaf of pound cake or bread. Homemade or assorted candy may even be added.
- Use your imagination and use what you already have in your kitchen and home to save money when making food gifts.
- It is perfectly fine to use candy items from Halloween or Thanksgiving when making holiday food gifts. Even though the wrappers may not be as festive, the prices will be cheaper and the candy will still be delicious!
- If you want to bless someone special with an assorted homemade holiday cookie gift, work with a family member or friend as a team to bake and exchange different types.
- Bake extra large homemade cookies. Involve your entire family in developing colorful personalized message cards filled with artwork.
- Add each message to each individually wrapped cookie. Each cookie can be added to a holiday stocking or gift bag. Very inexpensive holiday food containers may even be purchased at the Dollar Store.
- Go to a bakery and purchase inexpensive cake or pie boxes. (A community bakery may even give you these items.) Have your children decorate the boxes before you fill them with the homemade cake or pie that you will give to others. For a very personal touch, a handmade recipe card can be attached to the box. The recipe alone will be considered a wonderful gift!
- Make a unique invitation to give to someone who admires a special recipe that you prepare to invite them to a cooking lesson so that they will learn how to make it.
- Create a family recipe booklet fill with directions for making favorite foods and snacks. Even if it is chocolate milk, each member of the family should add the special recipe that they really love to make. Add family photographs and artwork created by your children. The special people who receive this family treasure will really appreciate it for years to come. (Be sure to add the date that you create it because it can be passed down to other family members.)
- Purchase an inexpensive soup bowl at the Dollar Store. Place a package of instant soup mix in the bowl along with a few individually wrapped packets of crackers and a plastic spoon. A handmade card with a personal message about your desire to warm the heart of your friend or family member may be added. The soup kit may be placed in a cellophane gift bag, tied with a ribbon, and placed in a gift box or larger gift bag.
- Create a unique coupon to give to an immediate family member that entitles them to breakfast in bed one day soon.
- Make a uniquely designed food basket.
- Visit various sites on the Internet for more interesting ideas!
Popcorn Delight: A Tasty Recipe To Share
Transform popcorn into a delicious treat that family and friends will enjoy receiving as a special edible gift by following the directions below!
1. Spread lightly salted popped popcorn on a baking sheet.
2. Stir in small treats like Oreo cookie pieces, chocolate covered toffee chunks, shredded coconut, colorful M&Ms, nuts, or any other enjoyable delight.
3. Pack the mixture tightly together.
4. Slowly melt chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips, or butterscotch chips.
5. Drizzle the desired melted chips over the popcorn mixture.
6. Break the mix into chunks and bite size pieces when the melted chips harden.
7. Place a healthy amount of the popcorn delight into a cellophane bag, a box, a tin container, or a glass jar.
8. Use creativity to decorate the container.
“HOT” Hot Chocolate, Tea, or Coffee Beverage Gift Ideas
Add assorted hot chocolate, tea, or coffee K-cup in a reusable plastic cup with straw
- All three beverages may be added to add variety
- Personalize a card made by hand and place it inside
- Tie a color ribbon on the straw or tape it to the side of the cup; add a uniquely flavored candy cane
- Present the gift to a special person in a beautifully decorated gift bag
- Place a few assorted hot chocolate packets and miniature marshmallows in a small cellophane bag
- A single serving wrapped package of cookies, biscotti, or donuts may be added to make the gift more enjoyable
- Place a ribbon around the plastic bag
- Use a hole punch so that a personally created card can be attached to the ribbon
- Decorate the gift bag with stickers to create more of a personal touch
Add one serving of instant hot chocolate inside of a cellophane cone bag
- Add a layer of marshmallows on top of the hot chocolate mix
- A final layer of chocolate chips should be added on the very top of the mix to make the beverage gift extra rich and delicious
- A colorful ribbon should be used to close the mixture
- Tie a wrapped peppermint candy or candy stick onto the bag to add an interesting flavor and to stir the delicious beverage
- Personally created card that contains preparation directions may be attached to the ribbon
Add a few assorted wrapped tea bags into a mug purchased at the dollar store
- Place the tea filled mug in a cellophane bag tied with ribbon
- Lay the gift in a square box
- Add a personalized note on top of the gift before sealing and decorating the box
Yummy Snack Mix Ideas
Add some of the following finger foods to a very large container and stir to create the snack mix that you desire to share with family, friends, and other special people:
- Assorted nuts (make sure those who will receive your gift do not have nut allergies)
- Dried or dehydrated fruits of your choice
- Shredded coconut
- Pretzel nuggets or small pretzel sticks
- Cereals like flavored Cheerios or Chex
- Dark chocolate, butterscotch, white chocolate, toffee, or milk chocolate chips
- Dried or dehydrated vegetables of your choice
- Miniature marshmallows
- Stir in sprinkles of flavorful seasonings such as the following: sugar and salt for a sweet and salty combination; cracked pepper; ground mustard; powdered or Parmesan cheese; or other popcorn seasonings.
- Scoop the mixture into a holiday canister or container. A plastic gift bag tied with a festive ribbon may also be used.
- Add a handmade card that contains a message about the mix providing extra energy or satisfying your hunger.
Cookie Crunch: My Favorite Holiday Treat
This inexpensive and easy to make crunchy cookie can be dressed up for the holidays! Different flavoring, the color choices of the dough, and the interesting coating makes this cookie a holiday favorite.
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons of the extract or flavoring of choice like: vanilla, butter, peppermint, almond, lemon, orange, and so on; sweetened or unsweetened cocoa may also be added
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
your choice of the following cookie coatings: cinnamon sugar, toffee, chocolate, peanut butter, or butterscotch chips, colored sugar, shredded coconut, chopped nuts or dried fruit, sweetened cocoa or hot cocoa mix, miniature M&Ms, or crushed peppermint candy
- Mix the butter or margarine, egg, sugar, and the flavoring or extract.
- Optional: Add food coloring of choice to the butter mixture according to the flavor of the cookie dough.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the cookie coating.
- Roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls.
- Refrigerate one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Roll each ball into the coating of choice. (This recipe makes 6 dozen cookies!)
- Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2-inches apart.
- Use the bottom of a glass to flatten.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Immediately remove cookies from the tray and cool.
- Freeze the cookies in a covered container or plastic bag until ready to place in gift containers.
- Be creative with the choice of the gifting package like using:
- Sturdy gift boxes lined with tissue paper
- Stacking the cookies in decorated freezer paper with ribbon closing each end
- Arrange the cookies in a small gift basket
- Place the cookies on a holiday cookie plate purchased at the Dollar Store and place in a large cellophane bag secured by a colorful ribbon
- An inexpensive, plain cookie jar that has been decorated
Enjoy your holiday food preparations as a family. And remember, giving is the reason for the season.
Do have fun ideas for using food to create family fun as they create unique gift? I invite you to share them here.
Here’s my golden ticket that helps me accomplish my mission.
Dr. Deborah M. Vereen is a retired Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, Principal, Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Assistant to the Superintendent for Family and Community Engagement, and Professor of Multicultural Education. Her e-learning course and social media platforms can be accessed on her website at www.Drdeborahmvereen.com and she is dedicating the rest of her life to serving as a Global Family Engagement Influencer.