November 16, 2011

Homemade Christmas Gift Planning & A Winter Village Cake {Naptime Simple Tips}

Winter Village

A Winter Village as decorated by a little kid (ps – my fancy camera is in the shop!)

It’s that time of year again – time to plan holiday gifts for family and friends! I am a huge advocate of giving homemade gifts for Christmas. Giving a simple bag of homemade candy bark or jar of hot fudge sauce is a heartfelt way to show friendship and happiness and is much less expensive than buying bags of gifties at hefty retail prices. I am planning an entire week dedicated to homemade kitchen gifts that are naptime cooking-friendly in early December, so stay tuned. Today we are going to talk about planning for these gifts and things to consider in your gift giving this year, including some great ideas for reasonable gifts from Red Envelope to pair with your homemade delicacies.

I recently was given a gift card to Red Envelope to test out their holiday gift offerings as part of a sponsored project. Naturally, I purchased two cooking-related gifts, the winter village cake pan and the 3D holiday cookie cutters. While I strongly advocate for homemade gifts, both the pan and the cutters are things I would pair with baked goods and give to a close friend. For example, I would bake the cakes as I did above and give them on a tray to along with a fresh pan so they could bake them at home with their kids. I know some of my naptime baking friends would adore this family-friendly gift. Same with the cookie cutters, I would make a fun forest of Christmas trees and pair them with the cookie cutters and fun sprinkles for decorating. This is such a nice way to give a homemade gift as well as something that your friend will have forever. Two years ago my friend gave me a beautiful copper cookie cutter in the shape of a bell and I think of her every time I use it.

Here are a few things to consider now before you plan to make your homemade gifts in December:

1) Make your list and check it twice: How many people do you plan to make gifts for? Are you children giving out gifts to their friends?

2) Ingredients & Shopping: Once you’ve made your list of recipients calculate how many batches of the food produce you’ll need to make to fulfill your gift list. Decide on the proper amount of ingredients and make your list. In many cases you can shop in bulk for things like butter and flour and pop everything in the freezer until you need it in December.

3) Advance Preparation: Is there anything you need to do now to begin your gifts? For example, if you are making homemade vanilla or vanilla sugar get those recipes started now by immersing the vanilla beans in vodka (for the extract) or in the sugar to get everything started. Place everything out of the way so you can complete packaging next month.

4) Packaging: I find that clear treat bags and small jelly jars often sell out by mid-December so it can’t hurt to pick up a few of those things now and stash them in a closet until you need them. My most recent favorite package finds are these gift tags and bags set from King Arthur Flour, and these bags with printable labels by Avery.

5) Large gifts: If you are planning to buy larger retail gifts like cake pans and cookie cutters I highly recommend purchasing them now if at all possible. Then you can wrap everything in a large bow and have it ready for the holiday season.

*A portion of this post was sponsored by Red Envelope but the views expressed are entirely by own, as well as the photographs and packaging suggestions.