Last year the bestest, Missy, and I started a new tradition. As long as we live close enough to do so, we will have a baking day for the holidays. This year we had our day on the 13th, in the midst of a busy season, busy times at work, and her moving. Carving out time to hang out is not always easy, but we have seen each other often as of late, to pack up her place.
We discussed how, next year, we would have more work space available for us to use at her new place. Lots more counter space! We also discussed the possibility of me moving away to be near my daughter and her family at some point in the future, and I told her we’d get her set up with a laptop beforehand so we could have a baking day, and do a video chat the whole time so we could still talk and enjoy each others company.
Technology continues to amaze me.
I know these are not healthy treats, but I do believe it is okay to have sweets once in a while – especially at the holidays, as long as we do not go overboard. As a matter-of-fact, I didn’t do near as much testing of the treats this year as I would have a few years back. Pretty proud of myself 🙂
This year, the bestest and I made six items:
- I helped her with chocolate dipped pretzels, and some dipped in butterscotch.
- She made homemade banana breads and butterscotch noodle cookies. (Yum!)
- I made chocolate no-bakes, Reese’s bars, and chocolate chip brownies.
Now, it takes time to do all of this, but it’s worth it. I planned an entire day at her place for this get-together. We did our grocery shopping first, and for lunch she made us rice and chicken. I also had apple slices. Dinner was bought on the run, at McD’s on the way home. Bad, I know! But quick.
Both of us contribute to the container choices, and this year I brought along a few bags and boxes to throw into the bunch. These items, for my part anyway, are usually purchased at discount prices or at thrift stores. Any way I can get them frugally! I don’t have much extra money at the holidays, so I look throughout the year for items that will help to make presents more fun to put together and give.
The bestest and I do make quite the mess when baking, lol. Who doesn’t, right? And we maybe didn’t have all that we needed for utensils and such on this baking day because we had packed much of her kitchen stuff away in preparation for her move. We did have to improvise just a little, but it all worked out well.
We like to package our homemade treat gifts nicely for the people on our lists. I was putting together a gift for the people I work with, plus gifts for each of three friends. I set up all four of the gift boxes I was going to need when I was ready to start filling them. The bestest did the same for her recipients. Plus, we both did gift boxes for friends we share.
We had a great deal of fun during our baking day, listening to Pandora and chatting about all manner of things, including our blessings. And, toward the end of our day, we began packing all those delightful treats into their chosen boxes, bags, and tins.
The next day I brought the treat box I had made up for work, and a gallon size baggie filled with the leftover no-bakes, to work for the Christmas party. I did not attend the party, as I was working, but I did go down and grab a plate of food for my lunch 🙂 The people at work love treats!
Yesterday, my friend Jose stopped in and I gave him his box filled with treats, and a card. It didn’t take him long after he got home to eat those Reese’s bars! I wonder if he even waited until he got home. My friend Bob will be stopping in for his treat box and card as well.
And today I put together treat gifts for a few other people. Much of the packaging was left over from earlier years, so they didn’t cost me anything this time around. I did buy a set of plastic snowman cups for a dollar, a set of felt holiday bags for about $5.50 and a set of burlap bags for about $6.50, including shipping costs. $2.00 was spent on mini Reese’s bars, and $2.00 on Hershey’s Kisses because they are favorites. I paid $2.00 for 2 packages of gold coins because they reminded me of childhood, and about $2.00 for all the rest of the candy. Plus $8.00 for hot cocoa simply because it was something different. I also spent .25 each on three packages of holiday pins and .49 on 1 package of pencils. $29.24 plus tax, and I have a lot of packaging items left over for another year. Many of these items were bought during my November trip up north to visit my daughter Skye.
The hot cocoa did set me over my limit, but what a cute idea! There were eight boxes in the package, at $1.00 each. I couldn’t resist. Everyone likes a hot cocoa on a cold winter evening, and children enjoy some after hours of building snowmen and snow forts. Well worth the cost, in my opinion.
The chocolate bar packs came with little coloring cards of Frosty and Santa. Young children will enjoy coloring them on a stormy day, when school is cancelled and they cannot be outside.
Holiday bowls filled with these cards and some goodies make a nice little gift, as do mini stockings filled with treats and a pencil sporting a snowman eraser.
Fill the bottom of a burlap bag with small candies, and top it off with a pencil, a chocolate bar, chocolate marshmallow treats, and some gold coins.
Add a little flair by attaching a couple of pins to the bag.
A bit larger felt bag can be filled with a hot cocoa box, adding a pencil and some chocolate marshmallow treats, coloring cards, and a treat bag filled with small candies.
See the cellophane bag to the side? It is filled with the same little candies as the bag placed in the larger felt bag, and tied with a red ribbon so the candies do not fall out.
I love that the felt bags have handles, by the way. Makes for easier carrying when you have multiple gifts to deliver.
This picture shows the same treat-filled cellophane bag placed inside a plastic snowman cup. A quick and easy last minute gift, when needed. There is always something that you are invited to last minute, or someone who decided to bring an extra child along to an event.
It’s also a nice touch to give gifts in food boxes or tins. They can be packed full with any number of treats, and are large enough to also hold one of the cocoa boxes and a pencil.
They’re good for store-bought treats, or even homemade goodies. Whatever you decide to put together. A good hostess gift would be one filled with homemade cookies, brownies, or fudge, or a combination of the three.
There are so many ways to package food gifts, and many ways to save money doing so.
Challenge: Beginning with the after Christmas sales, begin collecting different types of food containers, wraps, bags, ribbons, bows, tags, and other packaging needs. Also, look for small items you can add to food gifts for the children on your list. Keep receipts, and note the regular price of each item. Also, learn now how to research regular prices for items, so you can also utilize thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets, and items you find for free. When you are ready to package your food gift next year, look for deals on food items and figure out how much it costs to make homemade items vs. how much to buy them. Then let us know how much money you saved on these items and gifts. For your own needs, you can see more easily where you can cut corners on food gifts from now on.
If you already have this information due to the fact that this is all normal for you to do each year, please give us some figures and let us know about your experiences in the comments. You may have information that someone with not enough money this year can use. Tips are always welcome. Or feel free to email me at email@example.com. I respond to all emails and comments.
P.S. See the bestests’ soup recipe, completely ready for customization: Making Soup with the Bestest, Missy’s Vegetable Soup
Happy Yule! Merry Christmas! Happy new Year! ❤