1. Soups-in-a-jar. Use recycled glass jars decorated with bits of fabric remnants, ribbon or paint. There are a multitude of books available with recipes. Check the library, they are bound to have a few. Or peruse the internet and you will find plenty of websites. Here is one to get you started.
2. Nature Wreathes. I am sorry to say that the instructions for the nature wreathes that was provided has fallen victim to the black hole that is my desk. When I find them I will post the links. In the mean time, take a nature walk with the kids and gather fallen leaves, twigs, moss etc. and use it to decorate a grapevine wreath. At the end of the season you can return what you found to the outdoors and store the grape vine wreath for later use.
3. Popcorn Garland. Pop your corn the old fashioned way with only oil (that is on the stove top, not the microwave) or with an air popper. Avoid microwave popcorn, jiffy pop, and salt. The birds don't need the chemicals. Using dental floss as your thread and using a fine needle (ask me why I know this!), thread the popcorn on to the floss. Some will break and thats okay. Eat them or toss them in a bowl to give to the birds later. When you are finished with your garland hang it in the trees for the birds.
4. Best Homemade Hot Cocoa Ever! I am biased of course, lol. Here is a bulk recipe for hot cocoa. You can package this in jars with alternating layers of mini marshmallows or you can fill holiday tins. Be sure to use recycled tins and jars if you can.
2 pounds powdered sugar
25.6 oz. box powdered instant milk
1 pound unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp. fine salt
8 tsp. cornstarch
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine well.
Fill a mug half full with mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine.
Seal the rest in an airtight container.5. Fire Starters. For the men on your list that like to grill, wrap up small bundles of specialty woods in fabric remnants and ribbon. Be sure to include instructions on how to use them if they have never used specialty woods while grilling before.
6. Ceramic Family Tree. Take a ceramic tree and hang family photos from the branches like ornaments. Many craft stores have paint your own ceramics.
7. A few other examples were small handmade books showcasing children's art work, notepads featuring children's art work and notepads with the recipients name printed on them
Now for some gifts-of-food tips.
1. Try using mini muffin tins for brownies and muffins. Your batter will go much further.
2. If you are baking cookies, add a slice or two of plain white bread to the storage tin or bag. The cookies will pull the moisture from the bread. In a few days your bread will be crouton crispy and you cookies will be freshly baked moist.
3. Try getting together with some friends and baking several batches of your "specialty" and exchanging them with each other. You will get a wonderful variety of holiday baked goods and all you had to do was make you tried and true favorite.
If you are not on www.wowio.com, WHY? Hello, free e-books! If you are on www.wowio.com check out "Gifts from the Heart" by Virginia Brucker. Although it speaks only of Christmas, there are some great ideas in there for the Winter gift giving season.
And finally a collection of quotes for your reading pleasure.
The way you celebrate Christmas can be a gift in itself – handing on traditions that will give your child a feeling of continuity, comfort and joy in all the Christmases to come.
Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories…
~Laura Ingalls Wilder
Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.
A good meal soothes the soul.
It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.
The only gift is a portion of thyself.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The gift you give to another need not be an expensive thing, as long as you’ve tucked some love inside before you tied the string.
Every gift, though it be small, is in reality great if given with affection.
I’m sending you these tiny gifts and know you’ll understand, why I’d rather send you something that I made myself by hand.
~ A Victorian Christmas Card
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.