Friday, 18 December 2009

Simple Gift Ideas

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

Hopefully by now you have everything sorted for next week, and you're reading this for ideas for Christmas 2010...

Without wanting to give too much away (in case my gift recipients read this before the 25th), here are a few idea of some simple gifts I’m giving this festive season…

Angels by Chrissy Butler

Garden Tools and Seeds
Hand Cream
Vouchers – for stores and for my time
Shopping Totes
Drinking Glasses filled with goodies

The part of me who used to get a thrill from seeking out and buying the perfect gift has lost her enthusiasm! My children are growing past their ‘toy’ years and almost everyone I know doesn’t really need anything… I loathe the idea of buying for the sake of it.

So without being so predictable as buying socks, hankies or boxes of chocolates, I now try to buy or make useful but beautiful items. Things which will either be consumed fairly quickly (without much waste) or used daily (or thereabouts) over a long period of time. In fact socks, hankies and chocolates would do nicely, but I do still prefer to use a little imagination!

Some handmade and homegrown items I’ve given in the past…

Stationery sets
Handmade soap
Sweet treats in re-useable cookie jars
Potted herbs
Potted strawberries
Food hampers – bought and handmade
Framed family photos
Photo calendars
Other hampers – art supplies, cooking kits, etc
Jams and sauces

And for a gift which keeps on giving, my most favourite are Oxfam Unwrapped.

Here are a few of my favourite recipes (most are adapted versions of recipes shared on the Simple Savings forum):

Big Batch of Bikkies
750g butter
1.5kg raw sugar
6 eggs
2kg wholemeal flour + baking powder (half a teaspoon per cup of flour)
3 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter and let cool. Mix in all ingredients, starting with 1.5kg of flour and adding more if the dough is too oily or wet. Mix it with your hands unless you have a large food processor.

Form dough into balls the size of a 10c or 20c coin. Put on baking tray. Bake at 225 degrees C for 15 minutes. If you like softer biscuits, cook for a shorter time.

Makes over 150 biscuits. Freeze well.
* Add carob or choc chips, nuts, coconut, sultanas or other (diced) dried fruit, oats, rice bubbles, etc. You can also add cocoa powder to this mix to make a chocolate bikkie.

Carob Fudge Balls
Mix together 1/2 cup nut butter (peanut butter, tahini etc), 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup carob powder, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup dessicated coconut (can substitute some sesame seeds here).
Roll the mixture into balls and coat in more coconut if desired.

* you can substitute all sorts of fruit, nuts, puffed rice, seeds etc into this recipe and roll into balls with the carob/honey/nut butter combination and create a variety of different treats.

Cheese Biscuits
250g butter
250g grated cheese
2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp herb salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Few tbspn grated parmesan

Rub butter into flour. Mix cheese through. Add spices. Stir milk in to create a workable dough.

Roll dough into balls. Press into parmesan and bake on oiled tray @ 180 degrees C for 10-15 minutes (until edges are golden). Cool and store in airtight container. Suitable to freeze. Makes a couple of dozen large biscuits, depending on how big you make them.

Coconut Balls
3 eggs, beaten
180g raw sugar
250g dessicated coconut

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Form into balls about 2cm in diameter and place onto 2 greased trays. Bake at around 180 degrees C until golden brown. Enjoy!

You can use cello bags, recycled jars or buy a nice big cookie or storage jar which will be used again and again to present these items in. Add some ribbon or raffia and a handmade tag and the recipient will be pleased to receive something so obviously made with love.

Tell me, if you celebrate Christmas, what's on your giving list this year? How simple are your celebrations? Am I turning into a Scrooge, or is the holiday season is turning back to what it used to be?