Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Gift Success!

This year, we did exclusively homemade gifts for Christmas.  We were partly motivated by finances and having a family that grew by marriage this year.  We were also, in part, protesting the rampant consumerism that seems to be growing worse ever year.

At any rate, this is the result of 8+ hours of baking and only $40

That's right: $40 of supplies produced 6 loaves of bread, 250 cookies (20 dozen), 60 chocolate-covered cherries, 3 cookie tins, 3 gift boxes, and baggies.  
On the bread front, each set of parents got 1 or 2 loaves of bread, depending on size and recipe.  Here is a loaf of focaccia, which only needed yeast, flour, water, salt, and olive oil.

These roasting pans, the kind that come with lids around $2.50, we already had on hand and made great bread containers.

This is stollen, a German cake/bread recipe.  It is a basic bread mixture with added almonds, orange and lemon zest, candied fruits, and golden raisins.  On top is a simple mixture of powdered sugar and butter.  It's very much like a heavy Danish.


Here is another loaf of stollen (one recipe made 3 loaves) and a loaf of egg bread, also very basic.

On the cookie front, we did 3 types, all tailored to suit each individual family.  The largest batch was Pennsylvania Dutch Sugar Cookies, followed by Mexican Hot Chocolate Crinkles (below), and Snickerdoodles.  Each required standard ingredients you have in your cupboards.

My favorite venture was the chocolate-covered cherries.  I come from a long line of candy makers and I thought it was time to delve into this side of my heritage.  I was really surprised how easy and fun making these candies are.  They use maraschino cherries, powdered sugar, corn syrup, butter, and chocolate coating. 

Everyone commented on the fancy boxes.  Little did they know we found these gems for a buck a piece at the Dollar Tree!

We were super thrilled with how the baking turned out.  Plus, the amount of cookies allowed us to give each sibling and their significant other (where applicable) a dozen cookies each, which amounted to 9.  This was awesome because we usually skip siblings.

The gifts before we headed out the door ...

Our $40 purchased everything you see, minus the roasting pans:
Tins, boxes, flour, sugar, powdered sugar, vegetable oil, 3lb butter, raisins, baggies, cherries, chocolate coating, a lemon, an orange, candied fruit, eggs, and sprinkles.  Items like vanilla, almonds, and cocoa powder we already had enough of.

Everyone was super thrilled with our gifts and it was fun seeing people gush over what we did.  We'll definitely be going this route again next year!

I'm really proud of what we did this year and for being resourceful without feeling like we shorted anyone.  We spent $24 on ourselves to get 2 Hallmark ornaments (we get a Snoopy and Woodstock one for each year) and then $30 on our two nieces and nephew to get each a new shirt and mail them.

That means our grand Christmas total was $100!  Woot!


  1. Against my better judgment, did share (well, sort of) a few cherries. The focaccia is nearly gone, few cookies left and, I must say, I am most impressed with your ingenuity.
    Thank you muchly.

  2. @ d'Artagnan, thanks! So did your Chinese dinner!

    @ QDM, the cherries were apparently the biggest hit. I think I might have the Kepler candy-making gene. Glad you enjoyed everything! Already contemplating next year's offerings and how to take it to the next level :)