Yule Napkin Rings

Part of kitchen wizardry is decorating the table, especially at holidays and sabbats. Napkin rings allow you to add a little extra flair to the table. Different types of greenery and spices make decorating for Yule a simple, fragrant task. You can make these with real greenery to use once, or make them to last with fake greenery. For a non-wasteful sabbat, use fake greenery and store the napkin rings carefully after the sabbat is over. If you celebrate Christmas as well, as we do in our home, you can use these twice each year.

You will need:

(Materials for each napkin ring.)

2 cinnamon sticks

holly with berries

glue sticks

glue gun

  1. Glue the holly leaves into a ring with a diameter between 1 and 1/2 inches. Be sure there are some berries on each ring.
  2. Glue 2 cinnamon sticks together under the greenery, so they form two straight sticks together or an X.
  3. OR place them over the greenery and glue the red berries to the center.

Tips

  • Try different types of greenery.
  • Tie a ribbon around the cinnamon sticks.
  • Let older children, who can handle a glue gun, help with this project.

Shannon

 

Homemade Food Gifts: Baked Goods

The most frugal way to make these foods is from scratch. Admittedly, I often use boxed items when I’m able to purchase them on sale, with a coupon. They can be pretty affordable just before and during the holidays. The trick to doing this in the most frugal manner possible is by figuring out whether it is cheaper to bake from scratch or a box when all factors are added in, or deducted 🙂 Be sure to factor in home preserved produce for the food items that have fruit as an ingredient.
Just a note: These are not healthy baked-goods. But most people on my gift list won’t likely eat healthy versions. They like what they are used to. So yes, I give sweets at the holidays. Also, I don’t think it is necessarily bad to treat yourself once-in-a-while. You just don’t want to make a habit of it.

Fill baskets with one or more of the following:

  • HM (Homemade) quick breads
  • Quick breads from a box: Lemon poppy seed, apple cinnamon, pumpkin and cinnamon swirl are all tasty options.
  • Brownies
  • HM pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or bars.
  • HM sugar cookies decorated with colored sugars or icings.
  • HM apple or zucchini bars with chocolate chips.
  • HM mints

Tips

  • To save money on electricity, I bake multiple items at once.
  • To save time, I mix up multiple batches at once in large bowls.
  • To save a few more pennies, when mixing up multiple batches I delete and egg or two.
  • To save more money, I use small or medium eggs – or large depending on what is on sale. You can use any size eggs in baking, even if large eggs are specifically called for. 1 small or medium egg = 1 large egg.
  • Use mini loaf pans, if possible.
  • Use mini decorative cake pans for breads, bars and cakes.

What homemade baked goods do you make to give as holiday gifts? Please share with us in the comments below.

Shannon

 

Mantle Decorations

Decorating the mantle at Yule is a big thing. It is at Christmas as well. Food and greenery can be used for this. I like to use reusable items as much as possible for sabbat and holiday decorating, but I also enjoy the scent of fruits, and spices like cinnamon. It’s possible to combine fake and real items when decorating, and the combination will make a beautiful mantle area. Try using fake greenery and fresh (dried) food items.

The Garland

Garland in the length you need (can be real or fake, but greenery is the proper choice) (Tipping is illegal in some areas.)

Hot glue gun

Glue sticks

String of holiday lights, white or colored

Cinnamon sticks tied into bunches

Red berries

1 or 2 lemons

1 or 2 limes

1 or 2 oranges

1 or 2 apples

Sharp knife

Thread or thin string

Sewing needle

  1. Before putting together the garland, you will have to dry the fruits. The drying process may take a few days. Begin by slicing the fruits. String these with a needle and string of choice, and hang from the ceiling or along a wall to dry. Spread them out so that the fruits are not touching each other. I would string them from their centers. Be careful not to let the string cut through the slices of fruit.
  2. Wrap the lights around the greenery, positioning the garland along the back of the mantle so the plug is near an outlet. Putting the garland in place now lets you see where you want to glue the fruit and other items to the garland.
  3. Glue the fruit, in bunches of 1 slice of each type, here and there along the garland, without getting glue on the lights or cord. Do not pile the fruit slices, but overlap them some in groups.
  4. Glue cinnamon sticks to the garland.
  5. Glue red berries to the garland.

Candles

Greenery, thinner than that used for the garland, to use as a wreath to go around the bottom of the candle sticks

Glue gun

Glue sticks

Red berries

Candle stick holders

Taper candles

  1. Place the candle sticks to the center of the mantle.
  2. Make a wreath that will wrap around the bottom of the candle stick, using the greenery and berries.
  3. Place taper candles in the candle sticks.

Fruit Baskets or Bowls

2 matching baskets with handles that will fit on the space available on the mantle

An assortment of fresh citrus fruits

Fabric wide enough to hang out over the sides of the baskets some, to use as a liner

Thin greenery strips

Red berries

Glue gun

Glue sticks

Cinnamon sticks

  1. Glue the greenery strips around the handle of each basket.
  2. Glue berries here and there along the greenery.
  3. Glue cinnamon sticks where the handles meet the baskets.
  4. Place the fabric liners in the baskets, so that the edges hang out over the baskets.
  5. Put the fruits in the baskets, and place one basket at either end of the mantle.

Potpourri

2 decorative plates or bowls, small to medium in size depending on how much space you have between the candles and the fruit baskets on the mantle.

Cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces

Whole cloves

Whole allspice

Dried lemon peel

Dried lime peel

Dried orange peel

  1. Place the bowls on the mantle, centered between the fruit baskets and the candle sticks on either side.
  2. Place the potpourri ingredients in the bowls.

How do you decorate your mantle using food items? Let us know in the comments for this post.

Shannon

Homemade Food Gifts: Dried Herbs

Throughout the summer and autumn months, you’ve harvested and dried organic herbs to use in your culinary ventures throughout the winter. As is usually the case, you have far more of these dried herbs than you’ll be able to use before the next harvest season. Why not share your bounty with family and friends?

Hopefully, throughout the year, you’ve been cleaning and saving the glass jars from your food purchases. Perhaps you have purchased canning jars, lids, and rings frugally at yard sales and thrift shops. You may also have fabric and twine and/or raffia from the projects that you’ve been working on throughout the year. If so, you have the makings for great holiday gifts.

Single Herb Examples

Basil

Bay leaves

Parsley

Rosemary

Sage

Herb Mix Examples

Basil, oregano and thyme

Basil, thyme and parsley

Dill, mint and parsley

Lemon balm and mint

Parsley and rosemary

  1. Sterilize all the jars, lids, and rings. Dry completely. It is important that no moisture is evident when packing the dried herbs.
  2. Fill the jars with single herbs, or herb mixes.
  3. Tie squares or rounds of fabric over the cover of each jar with twine or raffia.
  4. Add a tag or sticker to the jar with the name of the herb, and with ‘From (Your Names’) Garden.’

How do you package your dried herbs for gift giving? Share your ideas in the comments below.

You may also enjoy:

Candy-Filled Ornaments or Tags

Food Gifts for Yule and Christmas

Shannon

Reference:

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)

Homemade Food Gifts: The Cooks’ Gift

If you’ve taken the time to make the homemade vinegars, oils and butters that have been featured here on the Frugal Recipes blog, then you have a great base for a cooks’ holiday gift. If you have made dried herb gifts, you will be able to add them to this. All of these items, combined with some homemade baked goods, will make a great gift.

Place a combination of these items in a large gift basket, over a dish or tea towel, or other fabric. Tie a bow on, and add a tag.

You can add to this gift if you have affordable ways of obtaining certain other items. For instance, why not add some homemade knitted or crocheted dish cloths to the gift. (My sister makes me a couple of these each year, and I just love them.) A dollar store will net you wooden cooking spoons and rubber spatulas, or even dish towels. I once found two large metal pots at a yard sale for .50 each. They were used, but looked almost new. A thrift shop may net you a hand grater for a quarter, or a couple of whisks. If you’ve been lucky enough to find such deals, create gifts with them.

This would be an easy project for children to put together, as they aren’t really preparing any of the foods themselves.

Tips

  • Combine in a container. No need to wrap.
  • If you choose to use a basket, they can be found affordably at thrift shops.
  • I once found four large baskets at a yard sale for $1.00 each.

What food gifts do you give at the holidays? Please share with us in the comments below.

Shannon

Note: I know sweets and many baked goods are not healthy, and that we really shouldn’t be eating them, but I have family members who don’t limit such things. So yes, I give these items at the holidays. Also, I don’t think it is necessarily bad to treat yourself once-in-a-while. You just don’t want to make a habit of it.

Homemade Food Gifts: Herbed Butters

Purchase sweet butter in large packages, preferably on sale. Generic and store brand butter is fine. Use a coupon if you have one.

Herbed butters are simple to make, and can be made up to three months before the date they will be given as gifts. Simply freeze them in 1/2 or 1 pint canning jars, or other thick jars that have been saved and cleaned for this purpose. Be sure to sterilize the jars before using them.

Two days before you wish to give the gifts, take the butters out of the freezer and place them into the refrigerator. The next day, you will want to tie a square or round of fabric over the jars’ lid with raffia or twine. Add a tag or a sticker with the name of each butter and its’ ingredients, as well as a line that reads ‘From the Kitchen of (Your Name).’

RATIO: 1/2 cup butter to 1 Tablespoon of herb or herb combination. Mix it all up well. (May need to be remixed before giving as a gift.)

USE: Herbs fresh from the garden or pot. Wash and mince them before use.

Variations:

  • Dill and mint
  • Garlic and marjoram
  • Parsley

Experiment with different herbs and combinations of herbs.

NOTE: These jars of butter do not need processing.

What combinations of herbs do you use when making butter? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.

Shannon

References:

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)

Apple Napkins

These napkins will add a decorative touch to any holiday table, as well as to every day settings, and will go with the Apple Placemats we made a last week. These can be made or decorated with minimal effort and time, and will add a certain charm to the decor. The napkins can be created with pre-made placemats, if desired, making it an even easier project.

Materials:

apple stencil

napkins, premade or homemade (Choose an off white color.)

parchment paper

fabric paints: red and/or green

2 paint brush

  1. Wash and dry the napkins. Iron if needed.
  2. Put paints on parchment paper squares.
  3. Use the stencil to paint the apple onto the napkins.
  4. Allow to dry thoroughly before using.

Tips:

  • It is okay to use more than 1 size apple stencil per napkin, to create a apple tree, basket of apples, or whatever you desire.
  • You could use different shades of the same color paints on the mats.
  • Get creative: Outline the napkins with another autumn color paint, create a grouping of mini apples placed to the side of a tree, etc.
  • Use these napkins for every day table settings, or for holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.
  • These can also be used for Samhain.
  • Use cotton fabric.
  • This craft is easy for children to help with.

Share your apple crafts with us in the comments.

Happy crafting!

Shannon

Apple Placemats

Placemats add a decorative touch to any holiday table, as well as to every day settings. They can be made or decorated with minimal effort and time, and will add a certain charm to the decor. These can be created with pre-made placemats, if desired, making it an even easier project.

Materials:

apple stencil

placemats, premade or homemade (Choose an off white color.)

parchment paper

fabric paints: red and/or green

2 paint brushes

  1. Wash and dry the placemats. Iron if needed.
  2. Put paints on parchment paper squares.
  3. Use the stencil to paint the apple onto the placemat.
  4. Allow to dry thoroughly before using.

Tips:

  • It is okay to use more than 1 size apple stencil per placemat, to create a apple tree, an apple grouping, or whatever you desire.
  • You could use different shades of the same base color paints on the mats.
  • Get creative: Outline the placemats with another autumn color paint, paint an apple basket, or a bushel of apples, etc.
  • Use these placemats for every day table settings, or for holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.
  • These can also be used for Samhain.
  • Use cotton fabric.
  • This craft is easy for children to help with.

Share your apple crafts with us in the comments.

Happy crafting!

Shannon

Apple Candle Holders

This project is a great accompaniment for autumn place settings, and can be placed on the dinner or picnic table with the place settings. They are affordable to make, as you can often find bags of tea light candles for a couple of dollars, and the apples can usually be purchased fairly cheap.

Materials:

apples

knife and spoon

tea light or votive candles, scented if desired

  1. Using the knife and the spoon, scoop out the center of the apple from the top. Discard the seeds. Cut down only far and wide enough for a candle to fit in snugly.
  2. Wipe the apple with a cloth.
  3. Insert the candle.

Tips:

  • Use apples from your own orchard to save money.
  • Look for candles at the dollar store for extra money savings.
  • Place these candle holders on the holiday table, or on stands as part of the overall decor.
  • These can be used for any autumn day, but are especially wonderful additions to Halloween and Thanksgiving settings.
  • These are also great for Samhain.
  • Create a centerpiece with these by placing them on a plate or in a baking dish. Strew autumn leaves, pine cones and acorns in the bottom of the dish, add the apple candle holders, and then place the arrangement on the table.

Enjoy the autumn holidays! Do you have any apple craft ideas? Please post them to the comments.

Shannon

Homemade Food Gifts: Herbed Oils

Herbed oils can be made easily and used in small ratios (1/2 to 2 tablespoons) on salads and in stir fries. Experiment to find other ways these oils can be used.

Make these when the herbs are harvested from the garden, so they are at their freshest. The oils will store for up to one year.

The basic preparations work like this:

  1. Place three 2-inch sprigs of herbs/leaves into each, per each cup of oil that the jar will hold.
  2. Put one garlic, shallot, or other ingredient into the necessary jars, per cup of oil that each jar will hold.
  3. Heat oil over low-medium heat until warm with a good scent; about three to five minutes (longer if lots of oil). Do not boil.
  4. Pour oil into jars, over the other items.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Cover each jar.
  7. Tie a tag around each bottle, with raffia or twine, with its’ ingredient list and ‘From (Your Names’) Kitchen.’ Also note how long the oil will last once given as gift, or an expiration date. Mention how each oil may be used.

Try these combinations or experiment with your own:

  • Dill and chives
  • Garlic, oregano, and thyme
  • Rosemary and sage

Tips:

  • Purchase oils in bulk and/or on sale to save money. You can also use coupons to save money.
  • Find other oil and herb combinations, but stick with healthy, Paleo-friendly oils.
  • Try using larger quantities of herbs to see if you like the flavorings better.

 

References:

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)