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Stay and Have a Cookie

Amy's Blog

homemade christmas gift guide

November13

I’ve spent some time recently reading & thinking about Christmas, and all of the gifts, and all of the stuff, and all of the money. (You can read for yourself here, here, here, and here.) And I don’t know about you, but I think things are a little unbalanced these days. I’ll be honest, I love opening lots of presents, and I love giving lots of presents. Now, I’m certainly not going to do anything too crazy like no presents at all, but I think it’s time to take a step back and remember what this season is about. Let’s consider what the best ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus might be. Because I’m not sure it looks like mountains of presents with a side of credit card debt.

For the presents that you do decide to give, what about making something instead of just buying it from a store? Gift giving is about showing someone how much you care about them, not how much money you can spend on them. I’d venture to say that giving your grandma, who loves to bake, a bottle of homemade vanilla extract will mean more to her than a new pair of slippers. And maybe your neighbors that bbq something on the grill anytime the weather is nice would appreciate a jar of spice rub mixed up just by you.
We’ve given some homemade gifts for a couple of years now, with great success. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite recipes, and if you’re looking for something else, there are oodles of options on Pinterest and the rest of the internet.

Vanilla Extract

This is so simple, it hardly needs a recipe, but here’s a good place to start, from Joy the Baker. Make sure you get good vanilla beans, not the shriveled up ones that most markets sell. A good source is Beanilla. Also note, it takes at least 6 weeks for the vanilla to be ready. So, if you’re making it for this Christmas, you’re already short on time. You can include a note that says something like “Don’t use until ____.” with the date it will be ready.

Vanilla Extract

Taco Seasoning

This is so easy to make a big batch of and give away in little mason jars. It tastes so much like the stuff that comes in the little packets from the market, but better and without all the weird preservatives and stuff. This is the one that I’ve used and loved.

Taco Seasoning

Chili Seasoning

One of my favorite slow cooker recipes is this one for chili. The recipe is instructions for cooking it on the stove, but I always throw it all in the crockpot (after browning the meat) and let it cook on low for 8 hours. One time, I got smart and instead of just measuring out enough spices for one batch, I measured out enough for several batches and stored it in a mason jar. I figured out how much was enough for one batch (6 tablespoons) and then I could just scoop out what I needed when I made chili. A couple of other notes on the chili recipe….instead of 46 ounces of tomato juice, I use 2 28oz cans of diced tomatoes. I also usually use more beans, but it usually depends on what’s in my pantry.

Chili Seasoning

All Purpose Seasoning Salt

I love this season salt recipe, although looking back at it, I realize that there isn’t even salt listed in the recipe. I wish I could tell you how much I used, but it was a year ago now and let’s be honest, sometimes I can’t remember what happened yesterday. I’m going to blame it on the kids. I swear that whole pregnancy brain thing came but never left. I do know that I used Kosher Salt, as I always do, and probably just added some and tasted, then adjust as necessary. I also remember that I didn’t use the full amount of red pepper flakes that’s listed. I wanted it to be kid-friendly.

Season Salt

Granola

To round it all off, how about some homemade granola in a mason jar?

IMG_0486

I hope that this gives you a few ideas of how to share a little love with friends and family this Christmas season.

love and butter,
amy

 

 

 

 

 

posted under pantry
4 Comments to

“homemade christmas gift guide”

  1. On November 19th, 2013 at 9:10 pm Cindi Peterson Says:

    Still enjoying the vanilla and the taco spice mentioned above. And I think of the giver each time I reach for one. I like that the taco spice is probably less processed than a store bought one. These are happy gifts to get. Thank you for the list and links.

  2. On November 19th, 2013 at 9:10 pm Amy Gunther Says:

    Yay! Love that you enjoy using them!!

  3. On November 20th, 2013 at 9:52 am Brooke Says:

    These are such good ideas! Question where do you get Mason Jars for reasonable prices?

  4. On November 20th, 2013 at 9:55 am Amy Gunther Says:

    Most big markets sell them, some hardware stores sell them. Even target sells them. I try not to spend more than $1 per jar when I get them. Sometimes the bigger ones are a little more though.

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