Simply Celebrate Life!
Here are a few ideas for those special people in your lives!
Special Gifts for any Occasion!
This is the time of year my kitchen counter becomes filled with loads of sweet treats for the Holidays, and my jeans start getting a whole lot tighter! That’s what the Holidays are all about, right?
Food, Fun, Friends, and Family!
There are tons of super cute ideas for neighbor gifts. Maybe you’re planning for a co-worker, teacher, or a special friend. Whatever the case, these are some of our favorite gifts. It’s a time to share that gift of giving, and what better way than with a few sweet treats. Here are a few of our favorites that can be used year around.
Good ‘Ol Cookie Platter
A simple, yummy tray of cookies can be a great treat for any occasion.
A batch of fresh baked treats may be one of my favorites, but check out below for some fun ways to share those baked goods with your neighbor friends.
I used these one year for a Gingerbread House Decorating Party as party favors, filled with candy for our guests. Imagine all the fun ways you could decorate a tin can. Choose any occasion, and find a few sheets of paper to match. These could be super cute Valentine containers filled with chocolate, or fun Easter baskets with a few eggs on green grass.
Just the Right Size
These coordinate with my decorated tins. When I was about to throw away my empty ‘Pringle’s cans, I realized that they were the perfect size for fitting about a dozen or so cookies.
One of a Kind Snowflake Cookies
One year I received a snowflake night light that had a sweet message on it about being one of a kind. So I took that same idea, and made some fun snowflake cutouts to share with my ‘one of a kind’ friends.
Ginger Bread Decorating Kit
Share a decorating kit by providing the gingerbread, frosting, and candy in a lunch size brown paper bag. You can use gingerbread men, or try using a house pattern that can fit right in the palm of your hand. Kids will love their very own gingerbread house.
This is a Gingerbread recipe I use every year.
6 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground clove allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp.) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup molasses
1 tbsp. water
Whisk together dry ingredients, set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, molasses, and water until well combined. Beat 1/2 of the flour mixture into molasses mixture. Stir in remaining flour mixture. Knead with machines dough hook, or on floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Can be made up to 3 days ahead.
Preheat oven to 350. Roll out 1/2 of dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out your house shapes, place on greased cookie sheet, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
2 large egg whites
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar
Whisk together egg whites and 1 1/3 cups of the powdered sugar until well blended. Add remaining 1 1/3 cups of powdered sugar and beat on high until stiff peak forms.
Mix it up
I love when making cookies is made simple. Let your neighbors whip up a batch in no time, with a layered cookie mix jar.
1 1/3 C. quick oats
1/2 C. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1 C. chocolate chips
Combine the next four ingredients together:
1 1/3 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Layer ingredients in order in a 1-quart wide mouth canning jar. Press each layer firmly in place before adding the next ingredient.
This one reads
Cowboy Cookie Mix
Preheat your campfire to 350 and grease up your cornbread pan. You’re in for a real sweet treat! Dump this jar into the biggest bowl ya got, and mix it around real good. Add a stick of melted butter and a whipped up egg, (add a tsp. of vanilla if you got some in the chuck wagon). Mix with your five cleanest fingers ’til it looks like cookie dough ought to. Bake for 11 – 13 minutes. Makes 18 big ‘ol cookies, or 2 dozen cowgirl sized.
Cookie Dough on the Go
Help your friends be Merry. Make some cookie dough, and wrap it up, so they can just pull out of the fridge and bake! Don’t want to make the dough? Just buy the cookie dough at the store, already packaged, and use some festive wrapping paper to decorate. Everyone needs a little extra “dough” for the Holidays!
Toast with a Drink
Sometimes during those cold winter days, a nice warm drink can be the cure to those winter blues. Here are a few ways you might want to toast to your neighbors throughout the year.
We asked for fun and unique gift ideas and we received one we thought you might really like!
Hot Chocolate on a Stick
Check out www.makeandtakes.com on how to make these treats.
The chocolate and marshmallows are homemade and placed on a stick…very ambitious and impressive. Attached a note saying:
Swirl & melt the chocolate and marshmallow stick in 4 – 8 ounces of hot milk
(depending on how ‘chocolately’ you like it!)
If you can’t wait for it to melt…just eat the chocolate and marshmallow directly off the stick!
This is definitely an idea I may have to keep in mind for next year.
Hot Cocoa to Go
I was at the dollar store and found a package of fun ‘to go’ cups. I filled the cups with a store bought package of hot cocoa, marshmallows, and a chocolate covered spoon. I also made a few filled with a special homemade Chocolate Mexicana mix and attached cinnamon sticks to the cup.
Last year, for my Polar Express Party, I used the same idea, except I used a paper cup and filled it with a cocoa cone and candy cane.
Make homemade cocoa and fill a jar. Attach with a wooden spoon and a fun ribbon.
Check out this Cocoa Mix recipe.
4 cups nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup powdered coffee creamer (try using flavored dry creamers like Hazelnut or Irish Cream!)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 5.6 oz. package chocolate pudding mix (secret ingredient#1)
4 teaspoons cornstarch (secret ingredient #2)
1 cup mini marshmallows (optional) This does add to the creamy flavor.
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Fill your mug half full with cocoa mix and fill the rest with hot water.
Try using Nestle’s Coffee-Mate Creamers like Caramel Apple or Italian Sweet Cream to add flavor. There are so many to choose from.
I made these a few years ago, and they turned out fun. Just fill a plastic cake decorating bag, or buy packages especially for ideas like this at your local craft store or market. Fill with cocoa mix, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.
Milk and Cookies
Mini milk jugs along with some yummy cookies can be a hit. I just purchased these milk bottles, wrapped them in some cute scrapbook paper, and wrapped a few chocolate chip cookies in a white kitchen towel.
Just Plain Sweet
How about these paper towel snowman. A useful gift for those holiday parties.
When I showed my husband these snowmen he smiled, and when I told him I was planning on giving these as neighbor gifts he looked at me with a look that said, ‘Are you serious?’ I thought for a while and debated if this was something I should give my friends. After thinking about it all day I convinced myself that I really liked these silly men in the first place and I was gonna go for it. How can I go wrong with a practical gift like paper towels. I’m sending him off with a plate of powdered sugar covered cookies and note attached, “These cookies are a little messy so we’re hoping this silly snowman can help you clean things up.”
Help out your neighbors with a few paper plates. They always come in handy at my house. I gave some to a few neighbors of mine with a message attached, “A little disposable cheer, so you don’t have to do the dishes tonight my dear!”
If you can get these out early, how about a few Christmas cards to help them out during this busy time of year. Or better yet get them prepared for the coming year with a few birthday cards. So get those scrapbooking supplies out and start scrapping!
Last year I received a fun family book as a neighbor gift and this year we brought it out again to read. Pass on a favorite book and share that love of reading.
A few years ago, my neighbor gave me a bag filled with spices. I cooked it over a hot stove and it gave my house a sensational holiday scent. I found this site that packaged a super cute gift. However, if you don’t have a dehydrator or simply the time – just package a few ingredients like an orange, lemon, cinnamon stick, cloves, and pine needles. You can add other ingredients, just depends on what you like. Attach a note with directions.
Slice oranges and lemons and add all ingredients in a pot. Cover with water and set stove on the lowest setting and wait for the steam to run through your house to give you a sensational Holiday scent.
I just received a music CD, filled with a few of my favorite songs. When I’m home with the family, I love to pop it in for some holiday spirit.
One year I received a pancake mix, and recipe as a neighbor gift, and since then it has been my favorite! So here it is.
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup oil
Mix all dry ingredients and stir in wet ingredients. Your batter is ready!
You could also make up a batch of Heidi’s favorite syrup, and include a little jar of it with your pancake mix.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup suagr
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook over low heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Don’t boil. Beat until thickened. (Easily doubled)
Bake and Be Merry
I love the idea of waking up in the morning, and not worrying about what I’m making for breakfast. Share a premade breakfast dish with a neighbor, and give them the morning off.
French Toast Casserole
1 loaf french bread (13 – 16 oz)
2 cups half & half
1 cup milk
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon and nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Slice bread into 20 slices, about 1 inch thick. Arrange in buttered 9 x 13 dish, overlapping slices. In a bowl combine eggs, half & half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Beat until well blended but not too bubbly. Pour over bread slices making sure all is covered evenly. Cover with foil and refrigerate over night.
Next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread Praline topping (recipe below) over bread, and bake for 40 minutes or until puffed and lightly golden.
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon and nutmeg
(Combine and mix well)
S’more Treats Please!
S’mores is not just a summer treat. Give a package of S’mores, so your friends can heat up this winter with an ooey, gooey, messy treat. And look for fun, flavored and festive shaped marshmallows too!
Make a banner for any occasion with a few scrapbook sheets and ribbon.
I came across this super cute idea last year, and never got a chance to try it out. I love how silly it is! So when I came across it again, I knew I had to give it a try for a few friends of mine with a note attached saying, “Before you know it, this Holiday Season will be melting away, so enjoy this time of year now, and have a Very Merry Christmas!”
What do you think?
Isn’t he cute!?
Find out how to make this at the Decorated Cookie or get creative!
Check back again because I’m planning on making these treats really soon, and will post pictures of my melting snowman cookies.
If you have any cute and unique ideas you’ve been working on, the Gala Gals want to know! Send in a picture along with your name, city, and state to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured in this article! So get to work, and send in those awesome ideas.
I finally squeezed some time in to try these cookies out and I’m sure glad I did. These silly snowmen were super easy to make and even became a fun centerpiece for a quick out of the blue family dinner. Check it out in our Cookie Centerpieces article!