More Simple Treats to Make and Give at Christmas

In my family, Christmas has always been an opportunity to show our love and gratefulness for the people in our lives. This is done through homemade gifts. Not only is this cost effective but giving a gift that you have taken the time to make is like giving a gift of yourself. We were raised to appreciate that someone thought enough about us to put their cooking or otherwise creative skills to use for our benefit. To me, nothing says I love you like a gift that you made yourself.

Here are some of my family's go to favorites for Christmas gift giving. Please enjoy.

CHUNKS OF SNOW CANDY

1 pound white chocolate candy coating, chopped

3 ounces macadamia nuts

6 ounces sweetened dried cranberries

Melt candy coating in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in nuts and dried cranberries. Spread mixture onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Cool. Break into pieces. Give in a clear plastic container.

MERINGUE SNOWMEN

4 large egg whites

2/3 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 225° . Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Put egg whites in large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugars, a little at a time, until the whites are thick and shiny. Whisk in the cornstarch with the last addition of sugar. Spoon the meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe 48 small mounds onto the baking sheets. Smooth down any pints of meringue. Bake until the meringues are crisp, about 1 ½ hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside to cool.

Sift 1 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar and then mix with 4 to 5 Tablespoons water to make a thick icing. Sandwich the flat sides of 24 meringues together with the icing and leave to set. Fix 12 meringues, rounded side to rounded side, to the top of each for the snowmen’s heads and leave to set. Fix the remaining 12 to the base of each, rounded side to rounded side, so the snowmen stand up. Pipe on eyes and buttons using a tube of black decoration icing. Use red icing for mouths.

SHORTBREAD COOKIES

3 ¼ self-rising flour

¾ cup butter, chopped

¾ cup confectioner’s sugar

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons cream

Sugar sprinkles and decorations, optional

Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Sift the flour onto a work surface; make a well in the center. Add butter, sugar, whole egg, and salt to the well. Starting from the center work the ingredients into a smooth dough. Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400° . Roll out dough if you want to cut out shaped cookies. Or roll into a log and slice into circles. Place 1” apart on baking sheets. Brush with egg yolk and cream if you want them decorated. Bake one sheet at a time for 10 - 15 minutes until golden in color.

FLAVORED SUGAR

Fill a mason jar layering white granulated sugar with aromatic, edible items like rose petals, scented-geranium leaves, dried orange and lemon peel, or vanilla beans.

The result is an exotic sweetener that adds a subtle perfume and flavor to coffee, tea, fruit desserts and other baked goods.

Mix up in small batches and let them sit for a few days in tightly sealed jars before gifting.

FLAVORED GIFT OILS

FRESH HERBAL OIL

Gently rub 2 sprigs fresh oregano, 4 large basil leaves, 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs fresh sage and 1 large garlic clove peeled and sliced between your fingers to release their aroma. Divide between sterilized bottles. Add some peppercorns.

Pour extra virgin olive oil within 1/8” of the top of the bottles making sure the herbs and garlic are completely covered.

Seal bottles tightly with corks or screw caps and shake well. Store in cool dark cupboard for 2 weeks before gifting so the flavors have time to develop.

LEMON OIL

Peel the zest from 1 lemon in thick strips and dry for 1 ¼ hours in the oven on the lowest setting.

Place dried lemon zest in sterilized bottles with sprigs of fresh thyme. Pour in extra virgin olive oil.

Seal bottles tightly with corks or screw caps and shake well. Store in cool dark cupboard for 2 weeks before gifting so the flavors have time to develop.

FIERY CHILI PEPPER OIL

Chop 12 red dried chilies in a saucepan with 2 /12 cups of extra virgin olive oil and 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper. Simmer 10 minutes. Don’t let the oil get too hot or it will not keep as long. Let stand and cool twelve hours before straining into sterilized bottles. Add whole dried chilies to each bottle.

Seal bottles tightly with corks or screw caps.

STAINED GLASS COOKIES

Use refrigerated ready to bake sugar cookie dough. Roll out. Cut into circles and then cut smaller circles in the center. Bake the circles approximately five minutes. Take out of the oven and add broken pieces of red and green hard candy in the center. Jolly Ranchers candy works great for this. Peppermints are good for this recipe too. Finish baking according to package directions.

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Comments 2 comments

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I love to give homemade gifts for Christmas. I often make the same thing for all of the extended family that we'll see that year. So many of these suggestions are really cute.


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Random, thanks for reading and commenting. So glad you enjoy giving homemade for Christmas. That's a great idea... giving the same to all of the extended family. Less stress as you only have one project just with bigger numbers. Glad you enjoyed.

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