I hope this last week before Christmas is treating you well and that you’re ready (or almost ready) for the big day on Sunday. I have been super busy given that I started a new job on Monday (part time currently, but loving it!) and came home to a house raining inside of itself on Monday as well. I could go alllll into that situation but I will save it, as it’s not yet resolved. Suffice it to say, I’ve had my zen turned on to not go all whacky about it. Does anyone else feel that way about their homes, like God help anyone who doesn’t take me seriously about this, they’re going to have their ear talked off? Probably more people feel that way about their kids I’m guessing!
Anywho, back to the point of this- if you’re like me, Christmas can be one of the biggest “fun” expenses of the year. Or your only fun expense of the year. I love to give gifts to friends and family and get together just like anyone else, but my financial situation means that I seriously budget out Christmas every year. Not even kidding you, I save a certain amount each month! It’s so worth it though because once October hits, it’s like my hobby to look at gifts for people and think about them, one year I was done Christmas shopping in September I was so excited. I’m sure you can tell from all of the gift guides I posted, but I love everything about Christmas!
One of the ways that I keep to my budget is by giving thoughtful home-made gifts to friends that pop over to the house and neighbors! I love to bake and so does my sister, so we had a baking afternoon a little while ago and I did some solo baking as well. These few hours (and few sinks full of dishes!) created a bunch of awesome gifts for our friends, and we found a super easy new way to package up baked goodies to make it easy to give them away!
The first thing my sister made was a home-made bits and bites style snackmix recipe. She made two huge roasting pans of this, which is awesome because seriously everyone loves this. I’ve included the recipe (from a family friend) in photo as well- for our variation, she added cayenne pepper (but don’t worry, it’s not crazy hot!) and black pepper in the same amount as the other ingredients.
Next we made these awesome chocolate mint cupcakes by Martha Stewart! My sister found this recipe in one of Martha’s baking books and there is only one variation that she makes- she makes them mini, so that they are an easy item to grab off of a cookie plate if you want to indulge in more than one item!
Now for myself, I make one other variation- and it’s a #hack to be honest. I am not about to go make chocolate mint buttercream! I’m just not- the average person can’t tell the difference and Christmas is incredibly busy. So, I use a store bought icing and add peppermint extract to it! Decorate these up pretty and watch your friends and family enjoy them because they are so, so good! (Also, this makes SO many minis, so be prepared!)
I hope these two recipes give you some ideas! We got our boxes at the dollar store and lined them with parchment paper, the snack mix was put into festive zipper bags!
Gifts like these are great this time of year because they’re an affordable way to have something great to bring to an unexpected holiday invitation over to someone’s house, or have packaged up for a neighbor or other visitor that drops by! Having enough baking in the freezer like this also means that if someone invites you out after Christmas when you really don’t want to hit the stores, you don’t have to, you have a gift just waiting to be assembled.