In just three days the sun will rise on a Christmas morning. All of the preparations, whether complete or not will be set aside for the celebration. The weeks of planning and busyness will cease, the stress and planning will fade making way for peace, joy, and laughter as we celebrate that baby in the manger, Emmanuel, God with us.
If, in these final days before Christmas you find yourself in need of a last minute gift and a budget that is nearly exhausted, here are five homemade, budget friendly, last minute gift ideas. Each is easy to make, useful and can be beautifully presented. You could buy them in a store but in less time that you would spend fighting traffic and for a fraction of the cost, you can prepare these at home. All of them make terrific gifts!
Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar
(I saw these at Walmart for $6.00 a jar)
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 quart sized mason jar, or equivalent jar, such as from spaghetti sauce.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Place in your jar. Tap around the edges with a spoon to pack it.
Add the brown sugar next and tap it down as well.
Add the white sugar followed by the chocolate chips.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Beat 3/4 c. softened butter, 1 large egg, and 3/4 tsp. vanilla in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the contents of the cookie mix jar and mix well making sure to incorporate any clumps.
Drop by the spoonful onto an uncreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes. Let set for a couple of minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen.
Click here for a printable version of the recipe.
You can find a printable instruction label here. It can be tied around the jar or glued to the back using a glue stick.
Peppermint Body Scrub:
4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup crushed candy canes
1 cup olive oil
20-25 drops peppermint essential oil
You will also need a glass jar.
Measure and pour the sugar into a mixing bowl. Sugar is a wonderful exfoliant.
Add the olive oil to the sugar, and stir. This should look like damp sand. Be careful not to use too much oil, just enough to dampen the sugar. If the sugar is too dry after adding a cup of oil, you can add more, 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
Add peppermint extract. Peppermint has been shown to reduce depression related anxiety, sore muscles, headaches and skin conditions.
Place a handful of your crushed candy canes in a ziplock plastic bag, and make the pieces even smaller with the help of a rolling pin. Alternatively a food process works great. The candy should be similar in texture to the sugar.
Place some of the sugar-and-oil mixture at the base of the glass container, and then sprinkle with a layer of the crushed candy. Continue layering until the container is filled. Use ribbons or fabric to decorate the jar. Makes approximately 4 cups.
For a free printable recipe click here.
Brown Sugar Vanilla scrub:
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil, (almond oil is great too)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Optional: 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil, or 1 teaspoon of coconut oil.
Mix all ingredients until the mixture resembles wet sand. Put mixture in a jar. Use fabric and/or ribbon to decorate the jar.
For a printable recipe click here.
Hot Chocolate Ornament:
The ornament pictured here was created by my daughter, Alia.
Hot Chocolate mix of your choice.
Candy cane, coarsely chopped.
Using a funnel, place enough hot chocolate mix for one, 8 oz cup in a clean, glass ornament.
Add the chopped candy cane.
Replace the top, and add a ribbon by which to hang it.
To use, empty contents of the ornament into a cup, add 8 oz of hot water and stir. These are fun little gifts for kids!
Cider Mulling Reindeer-
(Makes 6 Reindeer)
3 Large oranges
3 cups firmly packed brown sugar Mulling Spices (I used this recipe)
6 small whole nutmegs
12 whole allspice
36 whole cloves
6 Red Hot Candies
Black Edible gel food coloring or edible marker
Slice 3 the oranges in half, and scoop out the flesh. Take care to avoid breaking through the outer orange rind. Crumple up tinfoil into small balls to fill your orange halves. Place orange halves cut side facing up, on a baking sheet. Bake at 225°F for 3 hours, until dry and hard. It might help to turn the over about 2 hours into the baking time. Cool the oranges completely. Pack your mulling spices firmly into each orange half.
Creating the Reindeer:
Place a whole nutmeg in the center to make the Reindeer head. Push it firmly into the mulling spices. Using a food safe marker, create the eyes. Food safe gel dye can work too but I find it tends to smear. If you choose this method, paint the eyes a day ahead to allow the gel to dry thoroughly. Place a red hot candy at the base of the nutmeg to form the nose, then place 2 whole allspice as ears on either side of the nutmeg. Use 6 whole cloves on each Reindeer head to form the antlers.
Wrap your Reindeer Mulling Spice tightly in plastic wrap.
To use, place the entire Reindeer in a gallon of Apple Cider or Juice and simmer.
A printable version of this recipe can be found here.