Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Gift Of Giving Homemade

As you may have noticed, Christmas recently occurred.  As the parent of a just-turned-three year old, there was much excitement to be had; indeed, Jas delighted in everything.  From making cookies to decorating cards; from helping to wrap presents to leaving a glass of milk and a mince pie for Father Christmas - everything added to her festive experience.

Of course, the aforementioned were merely the trimmings; the real meat of her excitement stemmed from the promise of presents from the mysterious and yet omnipresent Father Christmas.  I still get excited about receiving a surprise gift so to get a whole heap of them in one go at the age of three must be mind-blowing.  And yes, both Jas and Sonny had a lot of presents.  Some expensive, some cheaper, but all were things that they had either asked for, or that we thought they would enjoy.

However, being on a tight budget this year, the majority of people received homemade gifts from us.  I have been meaning to give homemade presents for years now, but never seemed to have the time or inclination to go through with it.  But this year, I found a few recipes that inspired me to put good intentions into practise.  It was a lot easier than I had always expected; and the results weren't too bad either.

I made pfeffernusse, as pictured above, for my partner.  He loves the stuff and Lidl had sold out, so it seemed like the perfect gift.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a little on the hard side, but the flavours were all there.  James loved it, thankfully.

I made two batches of chocolate and walnut fudge (using Dairy Milk rather than the specified "semisweet chocolate pieces") and it turned out really well.  I was impressed by the speed of the process, the low cost of the recipe and the finished article; and enjoyed a whole lot of positive comments from young and old alike.  For gifting, I collected six squares into medium-sized silver organza bags (available online for pence).

For one young cousin, I made my own hot chocolate, which I poured into a cellophane bag and presented with a bag of mini marshmallows, a packet of chocolate sprinkles (left over from a trifle packet mix), two candy canes and a mug I knew would make him smile!

For my sisters, it was chocolate brownie jars - a one litre glass jar with airtight seal, filled with layers of flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar and finished off with a festive ribbon tied round the top, a bag of milk chocolate chips and a luggage tag on which I wrote the baking instructions on one side and their name on the other.

Finally, for my best friend, I found a mocha recipe which, once made, was packaged in a small glass jar and presented with a festive ribbon and a bag of mini marshmallows.

Other gifts were less homemade but still personal; we had photos of Jas and Sonny taken by Charlie from Bigger Pixel at their local music group, which we then framed and wrapped.  These went down very well!

The feedback we have received from our homemade gifts has been much more positive and appreciative than in previous years when we have spent large amounts of money at Boots and the like.  A homemade present displays the thought and effort that has gone into choosing and then creating it and, sometimes, you just can't buy that.

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