When you’ve got lots of people to buy for but you want to make your gift a bit more personal than a box of chocolates (nothing wrong with a box of chocolate BTW!!), things can get expensive. With the kids teachers, club coaches and tutors, other parents who regularly help me out and anyone that I’d like to say a little ‘thank you’ to, the gift list is constantly growing. Homemade gifts are great if you are the arty, imaginative type but can be a bit daunting for those of us who lack the ‘creative gene’! Here are some easy, festive ideas for homemade Christmas gifts, that the children can help with too:
Christmas Cookie Jar
This is a fab gift idea given to me by a friend (who reads the blog and will know that I’m talking about her!!) a few years ago. It was actually chosen as a gift specifically because I have kids and she though it was something that they could all get involved with, not to mention, enjoy eating afterwards! We have since made these a good few times since and the versatile recipe, allows for different combinations to suit whatever you happen to have in the cupboard.
- Print out this cookie-mix sheet
- Measure out the dry ingredients and layer them carefully into a 1 litre glass jar
- Remember, presentation is everything with this one so try to get your layers even for a great effect
- Fold up the sheet and put it on the top
- You could, of course, use any cake or biscuit recipe for this, or substitute different chocolate, dry fruit, nuts and seeds in this recipe, just design your own instructions to go with it!
- Decorate the jar with a bow or bit of tinsel around the top for a Christmas touch
Easy Homemade Chocolate Truffles
For this recipe you need equal quantities of double cream to chocolate. We made some of each white, milk and dark chocolate truffles but you could, of course, just do one variety.
- 300ml double cream
- 100g each of white, milk and dark chocolate, chopped in separate bowls
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 dsp/100g chocolate of a liqueur of your choice (optional- see below for great combinations)
- Your choice of coatings- cocoa powder, desiccated coconut, crushed toasted almonds, crushed pistachios, popping candy, melted chocolate
- Bring the butter and double cream to a simmer in a saucepan, taking care not to boil
- Pour in equal quantities into each bowl, over the chocolate
- Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mix is silky, add the optional liqueur if using and stir through
- Cover and refrigerate for around 4 hours
- Using a spoon, dipped in boiling water (especially needed for the dark chocolate that sets quite hard) scrape the surface of the mix to create a ball
- Coat the truffle immediately by rolling in a selected coating
- To coat with melted chocolate, use a fork to hold the truffle and spoon over the chocolate, put back on a plate and into the fridge to set
The best chocolate to add your favourite alcohol to is the dark, 70%+ cocoa solids variety. The other types of chocolate form quite a soft truffle which is made even softer with the addition of alcohol, it still works but just don’t be tempted to over-do the amount! Great combinations for chocolate truffles include coconut liqueur coated in desiccated coconut, orange liqueur coated with popping candy, coffee liqueur with white chocolate coating and brandy coated with cocoa powder. Please note that these truffles have a limited shelf life (4-5 days) and should be kept in the fridge.
Moisturising Hand Scrub
This scrub is ideal for removing strong kitchen smells from hands, such as onions and garlic. Simply rub a teaspoon of the mixture into hands for 30 seconds, before washing off with soap. This particular recipe uses only sugar, as salt is drying on the skin but some could be substituted if you prefer. The optional essential oil adds a little extra zing and the vitamin E will preserve the scrub and give it a longer shelf life. You could adjust the recipe to include essential oils of your choice, tea tree and lavender are both oils that I would recommend but there are many others that would work well.
- Granulated sugar- fill the container (a jam jar is ideal) that you wish to use for the gift, leaving a 1cm gap to the top
- The zest of 2 lemons (or other citrus fruit)
- Olive oil (or any other cooking oil will do)- fill 1/3 of the container you are using for the gift
- A few drops of lemon essential oil, optional
- 2-3 drops of vitamin E oil, optional
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and decant into your jar and decorate. This scrub is best used within a month of making and will keep fresher if water is kept out of the jar. It is therefore advisable to use a teaspoon rather than fingers to apply.
All of these gifts require some sort of labelling. If you are indeed the arty type, please feel free to go to town on some fancy labels with beautifully written instructions about using the product. If you are more like me, write the instructions, use by date and/ or ingredients in a little card and attach.
I hope you find these easy, homemade gift ideas useful. Will you be making any Christmas gifts this year?