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Party Plan: Gift Giving

Get into the spirit of the holidays with thoughtful gift-giving ideas, while picking up a few decorating tips for yourself!

Be a Gift-Giving Guru This Holiday Season!

‘Tis the season for putting smiles on faces! We’ve got delicious gift ideas like M&M Brownie Mix, Cranberry White Chocolate Mason Jar Cookie Kits, and Homemade Dark Chocolate Almond Butter to tickle the sweet tooth of any jolly visitors you may welcome this year. Hot Chocolate Cookies in a Jar brings a new twist to a classic winter staple, while the festive warmth of Apple Cider Syrup tops flapjacks with flavorful flair.

Spread some cheer around the rest of the house with the seasonal scent of a Peppermint Bath Bomb or Peppermint Sugar Scrub, perfect for stuffing into stockings. We’ve even got Christmas Ornament Party Favors for your guests to take home…they’re a great way to share holiday memories.

We know great gift ideas need a cheery package, and our favorite presents are a cinch to dress up by following 3 Simple Wrapping Ideas for the Holidays. And check out our Wrapping Paper Storage Ideas to manage post-holiday cleanup – and make next year’s gift-wrapping a little easier!

Hot Chocolate Cookies in a Jar

Hot Chocolate Cookies in a Jar

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

Give the gift of food this holiday season, with easy-to-make cookies. Do most of the work yourself, but let your loved ones bake the cookies when they are in the mood for them. Hot Chocolate Cookies in a Jar are the perfect gift because everyone knows food is the way to one’s heart!

Ingredients for the jar:
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup hot cocoa mix
  • ¼ cup marshmallow bits
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • Mini marshmallows
Directions for the jar:
  1. One by one, layer each of the dry ingredients in a quart jar, leaving the mini marshmallows out.
  2. Write the baking instructions on the back of a cute gift tag.
  3. Place marshmallows in a sandwich bag and attach to the jar along with the gift tag, with a festive ribbon.
Directions for the cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with Parchment Paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, blend 1 stick of softened butter, 1 egg, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla until creamy.
  3. Add the ingredients from the jar and mix until well-combined.
  4. Scoop large round balls of dough on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 10-11 minutes.
  5. As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, use the back of a tablespoon to make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Place about 5 mini marshmallows in each cookie indentation. Return to oven for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove cookies from oven and cool. Serve and store remaining cookies in an airtight container. Recipe can easily be doubled.

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M&M Brownie Mix

M&M Brownie Mix

Created by: Erin Sellin, Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Homemade brownies are my favorite dessert, so I want to share that love with others. Unfortunately homemade brownies can dry out and go bad before people get to enjoy them. So I found a better way! Brownie mix in a jar!

I can make a big batch of this homemade brownie mix, and then just portion it into jars for gifts. I like to attach a nice label with the baking instructions so it is festive, pretty and heartfelt.

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups cocoa powder
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
Directions:
  1. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix for 5 minutes on low, scraping the sides down as necessary, until the mixture comes completely together and has a sand consistency.
  2. Fill a jar with 2½ cups of brownie mix. Attach a bag with ½ cup M&M’s to the side of the jar.
  3. On a tag, write directions for the brownies: Mix jar of brownie mix with 2 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and attached bag of M&M’s. Pour into 8” baking dish. Bake at 350ºF for 18-22 minutes, until tester comes out mainly clean.

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Caramel Sea Salt Hot Cocoa Popcorn Gifts

Caramel Sea Salt Hot Cocoa Popcorn Gifts

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

Let the kids help make tasty gifts for their teachers this year with this easy DIY for Caramel Sea Salt Hot Cocoa Popcorn Gifts! The kids will have fun helping make these popcorn jars and the teachers will enjoy this sweet & salty treat over holiday break.

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups Kroger White Popcorn kernels
  • 6 small glass jars with lids and rings
  • 3 sheets of Kroger Home Sense Parchment Paper Pop Ups, cut in half
  • 12 Tbsp. Private Selection Caramel Sea Salt Hot Cocoa Mix
  • 9 Tbsp. Kroger Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Holiday themed fabric, cut into 6 (5”x 5“) squares
  • ½ Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • Salt, to taste (optional)
Directions:
  1. Pour ½ cup of the popcorn kernels into each of the glass jars.
  2. Place 2 tablespoons of the hot cocoa mix and 1½ tablespoons of the mini chocolate chips into the center of each parchment paper half. Bring all 4 corners together and tie with a piece of ribbon or twine. Repeat for the remaining 5 jars. Place a parchment paper pouch filled with the hot cocoa and chocolate chips on top of the popcorn kernels in each of the jars.
  3. Place the lid on each jar, and then position the fabric square evenly over top of the lid. Then secure the ring onto the jar. Feel free to print and include the directions below for making the popcorn with each jar.
  4. To make the popcorn: Heat the ½ tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add in the popcorn kernels. Once one of the kernels pops, cover the pot and continue cooking, shaking frequently until the popping slows down to 1 pop about every 20 seconds. Remove from the heat, and pour the 2 tablespoons of melted butter over top. Toss. Add in the contents of the parchment paper packet and toss again until the popcorn is evenly coated. Add salt to taste. Enjoy!

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Cranberry White Chocolate Mason Jar Cookie Kits

Cranberry White Chocolate Mason Jar Cookie Kits

Created by: Krissy Allori, Self Proclaimed Foodie

Cranberry White Chocolate Mason Jar Cookie Kits are fun to make gifts that beautifully display the dry ingredients of a tasty holiday cookie.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Mason jars, quart-sized
  • Paper, fabric or tulle
Directions:
  1. For the Mason jar, use a clean quart sized jar.
  2. First combine the flour with the baking soda and salt. Then, separately mix the sugars together before adding to jar to prevent clumping. To layer the ingredients, add half of the flour mixture to the jar, followed by the oats, then the remaining flour mixture. Top with layers of the sugar mixture, then the cranberries, followed by the white chocolate chips, and finally with the chopped pecans.
  3. Decorate jars with paper, fabric or tulle.
  4. Create gift tags with the following instructions:

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream ½ cup very soft butter until smooth. Stir in 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy. Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on wire racks.

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Homemade Dark Chocolate Almond Butter

Homemade Dark Chocolate Almond Butter

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

Skip the store-bought gifts for something a little more personal, and – edible! Homemade dark chocolate almond butter is an easy, crowd-pleasing spread that’s healthy, a little sweet, and SO delicious!

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. roasted, unsalted almonds
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Jars for gifting
  • Gift tags
  • Ribbon
Directions:
  1. Add roasted almonds to the bottom of a food processor. Turn on and let the machine process the almonds. The mixture will first turn crumbly after about 3 minutes. Once this happens, stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Turn the mixer back on, and let it process until the mixture is completely pureed with a loose consistency, another 5-6 minutes.
  2. While the almonds blend, add chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 15-minute increments, stirring in between each until chocolate is completely melted (you should only need to do 2-3 intervals). Let chocolate cool slightly.
  3. Once the almonds have blended, scrape the sides down with a spatula and add in chocolate and vanilla extract. Pulse until blended. Add pinch of salt. Pulse until blended.
  4. Transfer to jars, seal, and tie with a ribbon.

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Apple Cider Syrup

Apple Cider Syrup

Created by: Jessica Williams, Butter With A Side of Bread

Homemade Apple Cider Syrup is simple to make and you’ll adore the warm, festive flavors. It’s perfect for gift giving and tastes amazing on pancakes, waffles and even vanilla ice cream and pound cake!

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 canning jars (8 oz. each)
Directions:
  1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch and pumpkin pie spice in a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Pour in apple cider and lemon juice, then stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly. Set timer and boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add in butter and stir gently until melted. Remove from heat and transfer to canning jars.
  5. Store in the refrigerator. Remove lid and microwave for 1 minute prior to serving.

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Christmas Tree Rice Krispies Treats

Christmas Tree Rice Krispies Treats

Created by: Laura Franklin, Food Fun Family

Kids enjoy being involved in gift-giving during the holiday season. These Christmas Tree Rice Krispies Treats are the perfect edible gift for kids to create and give away during the holidays.

Ingredients:
  • 1 Rice Krispies Treat Fun Sheet (32 oz.,)or make your own Rice Krispies treats on a cookie sheet
  • 1 package (12 oz.) green vanilla-flavored candy melts
  • Sprinkles, various colors
  • Small candy balls
  • Lollipop sticks
Directions:
  1. Cut the sheet of Rice Krispies treats into triangle “trees.” You can cut your shapes with a knife or use a buttered cookie cutter.
  2. Gently push a lollipop stick into the bottom center of each tree. Place trees on a large sheet of waxed paper.
  3. Melt candy melts according to package directions. Alternately, you can use white chocolate and mix a few drops of green food coloring into the melted chocolate.
  4. Dip one side of each tree into the melted candy. Place green side up on waxed paper and immediately decorate your tree with sprinkles and edible candy balls. Be creative with your designs!
  5. Repeat until all of your Rice Krispies treat trees are decorated. Finish off with a festive ribbon and place on a holiday plate to give to neighbors, teachers and friends. Store in an airtight container or sealed bag at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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Christmas Ornament Party Favors

Christmas Ornament Party Favors

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

Holiday parties are my favorite kind of parties. I cherish inviting people into my home to see decorations and share favorite holiday recipes. We turn up the Christmas music, have lots of laughs, and then I send my loved ones on their way.

Because Christmas is all about giving, send any guests on their way with adorable Christmas ornament party favors. The cute Snowman and Santa Claus ornaments can adorn your Christmas tree until it’s time for your guests to leave.

Things You'll Need:
  • Fillable plastic ornaments
  • Red M&M’s or other red candies
  • Miniature marshmallows
  • Black sparkly ribbon
  • Soda can tabs
  • Black sharpie
  • Orange paper
  • Hot glue
Directions:
  1. Open the ornaments and fill half with mini marshmallows, and the other half with red candies.
  2. Replace top of ornament and begin to decorate. For the marshmallow-filled ornaments, use a black Sharpie to make eyes and mouth. Hot glue an orange carrot nose in place.
  3. For the Santa ornaments, hot glue a black ribbon around the center of the ornament, then glue a soda can tab in the center of the ribbon/belt.
  4. Hang on your tree or place ornaments in a basket until your guests are ready for them!

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Peppermint Bath Bombs

Peppermint Bath Bombs

Created by: Crystal Owens, A Pumpkin & A Princess

Bath bombs make a great handmade gift idea for friends and family. Making them at home is easy to do and is an inexpensive gift that you can make in large quantities.

Customize bath bombs with your favorite scents or use seasonal scents like peppermint for Christmas. To give as a gift, wrap them in cellophane bags or mason jars with festive ribbon and gift tags.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ½ cup citric acid (next to the canning supplies)
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • 3 Tbsp. Epsom salt
  • 3 tsp. coconut oil, melted
  • Small spray bottle of Witch Hazel
  • 15 drops peppermint essential oil
  • Small tartelette mold
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl combine baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch and Epsom salt.
  2. Pour in melted coconut oil and peppermint essential oil. Mix until well combined.
  3. Lightly spray witch hazel a couple times until you can gather the mix in your fist and it holds its shape. If it easily falls apart then you might need one more spray of witch hazel. Avoid spraying too much or your mix will start fizzing. You only need enough to slightly dampen the mix. Press the mix into your mini tartelette molds and allow them to set for at least one hour, or until dry, before removing.
  4. Wrap in cellophane bags or mason jars to give as gifts.

 

Depending on the size of your mold this recipe makes about 10 small bath bombs.

They may smell delicious, but these bath bombs are NOT edible so keep them away from the little ones.

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Peppermint Sugar Scrub

Peppermint Sugar Scrub

Created by: Britni Vigil, Play. Party. Plan.

DIY sugar scrubs are not only great for exfoliation, they make a wonderful homemade gift idea. This peppermint sugar scrub combines four simple ingredients for a stocking stuffer that’s perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Once you’ve made the scrub, add a bit of red and white colored ribbon and jingle bells for a perfect homemade gift.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Kroger Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ cup Kroger Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. Kroger Pure Peppermint Extract
  • 3 Kroger Starlight Mint Peppermint Candies, chopped
Directions:
  1. Pour sugar into airtight container such as a mason jar.
  2. Add melted oil to the sugar gradually, stirring the mixture together after you add every little bit. If you prefer a more liquid sugar scrub, use the entire ¼ cup. If you prefer it to be more gravelly and exfoliating, use just under the ¼ cup.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract and stir to combine thoroughly.
  4. Sprinkle crushed peppermint candies in and stir to mix. Top with remaining peppermint candies to finish off.
  5. Seal Mason jar with tight fitting lid until ready to use.

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Seasons Greetings White Elephant Gift Idea

Seasons Greetings White Elephant Gift Idea

Created by: Sharon Garofalow, Cupcakes and Cutlery

White Elephant gift exchanges are a classic holiday party idea. I have been known to bring a gift just to get a laugh, but I usually try to bring something that the recipient can get some use out of.

This ‘Seasons’ Greetings spice bouquet is clever AND useful. It takes just a few minutes to make and includes spice packets that can be used to help speed up the winner’s dinner prep throughout the busy holiday season!

Things You'll Need:
  • Assorted spice or seasoning packets
  • Skewer sticks (amount will match the number of seasoning packets used)
  • Washi tape (Japanese paper tape) or masking tape
  • Large bowl or plant pot
  • Floral foam or Styrofoam block
  • Decorative elements to cover the top of the floral foam (I used moss and pinecones to show a holiday feel, but you could easily use something like whole coffee beans)
Directions:
  1. Using a utility knife, cut the Styrofoam block to fit the appropriate container for your bouquet. The block should sit down in the container and stop approximately ½”–1” from the top.
  2. Using the Washi or masking tape, tape a skewer to the back of your seasoning packet.
  3. Place the skewers, with seasoning packets, into the Styrofoam at varying heights.
  4. Cover the top of the Styrofoam with moss or coffee beans.
  5. Tie on a bow and bring to your White Elephant Gift Exchange!

 

Using paper or masking tape ensures that the recipient will be able to remove the skewers and still read the directions on the package!

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Holiday Treat Tray Liners

Holiday Treat Tray Liners

Created by: Jamie Bare, The Crafting Chicks

Save that left over wrapping paper! You can create a pretty holiday treat tray in minutes. Use Christmas wrapping paper to spice up an ordinary tray. Perfect for dessert displays during the holidays.

Things You'll Need:
  • Plain serving trays or dishes
  • Wrapping paper
  • Scissors
Directions:
  1. Round up serving trays or dishes around your home. Find plain dishes with a neutral color. White, silver or gold also make pretty trays!
  2. Measure the bottom of your tray or serving dish.
  3. Using left over wrapping paper cut out the size needed for your dish, using the measurements in step 2.
  4. Line your tray. Use a small amount of adhesive if needed to keep the paper in place. Add festive treats onto the tray and serve at any party or family gathering!

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Wrapping Paper Storage Ideas

Wrapping Paper Storage Ideas

Created by: Erin Sellin, Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

I love the holidays. All the gifts, the food, the decorations, the people, I love it all. But things can get messy! Wrapping presents means a lot of extra “stuff,” like ribbons, bows, tags, paper and more.

In my family, I am the one who wraps almost all of the presents. My husband will wrap the ones he is giving me, but the rest are mine. I really like trying to wrap the box perfectly, putting on ribbon or bows to make it pretty, and making it personal to the person receiving the gift.

I have found the key to managing the mess and keeping wrapping fun for me is organization. I have all of the wrapping paper stored nicely, so the edges don’t get wrinkled. The bows are in one place and easily accessible. I have more fun doing it, and I don’t stress out about my house being in disarray. Plus, if I have to wrap a gift in March, I can find everything easily and am not trying to hunt down paper and tape.

The best system for me is a stand up plastic container for the wrapping paper. I can fit all the rolls I need in there, and they stay in great shape. I can stock up at the after Christmas sales with paper for the next year, and have a place to store it. So not only is it easy for me, I am saving money too! Baskets are my favorite way to store bows and gift bags. That way I can see what I have and easily grab the color or size I need. Small plastic tubs are my favorite way to store ribbon. They stay wound up and on the spool, which makes using it next time super easy!

So make wrapping gifts fun again, with organized storage for all the pieces. Find a shelf on a closet, so you always know where everything is, and stock up on all of your wrapping supplies now.

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Easy Christmas Light Installation and Clean-Up

Easy Christmas Light Installation and Clean-Up

Created by: Krissy Allori, Self Proclaimed Foodie

For easy installation and clean up of your exterior Christmas lights, use this trick!

Hanging outside lights during the holidays can be rather time consuming. Since that’s my husband’s job, a few years ago he came up with a method that would be incredibly easy to both install and take down. We also wanted a way to ensure our lights were perfectly straight and evenly spaced. One of my pet peeves is Christmas lights that aren’t perfectly straight or symmetrical. I’m weird like that.

My husband permanently attached our lights to lightweight pieces of wood. Each straight segment of our windows and roofline has a piece of wood that’s the correct size. There are also holes in each end where they easily hang on nails attached to our trim year round.

He measured the length of each string of lights to ensure that they fit the entire perimeter of each window perfectly, and spaced out each individual light. By attaching them to the wood, he ensured that all of the lights are perfectly straight and facing the right direction. He can now hang all of our Christmas lights in about ten minutes. Taking them down is just as easy. I wish I could say the same thing for the rest of the decorations!

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3 Simple Wrapping Ideas for the Holidays

3 Simple Wrapping Ideas for the Holidays

Created by: Lauren Saylor, A Fabulous Fete

Wrapping paper is fun, but so are the little additions you can place on top. I usually stick to a neutral paper, using simple boxes instead. Coming up with interesting bows and decorations is the best part!

Here are three ideas you can try with items from your local grocery store:

  1. Grab some twine from the butcher’s counter along with a wooden spoon. Top a craft package with both for the chef in your life.
  2. A sprig of rosemary and twine make a fragrant and festive topper to any gift!
  3. Cheesecloth makes a gorgeous bow on its own, or you can add a sprig of herb or blooming branch. You can even dye the cheesecloth to match your wrapping color palette.

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