As Christmas approaches, you may find that the list of people you need to get presents for is nearly as long as Santa’s “nice list”. You might feel pressured to join the mall hordes out of habit, spending your hard-earned money on bags and bags of gifts. Just because you’d like to give a present to a friend or family member doesn’t mean you have to buy one. In your list of gift recipients, try and count all of them that don’t enjoy holiday sweets and snacks. Your answer is probably ‘zero’. Give the (cheap) gift that everyone loves: homemade treats!
Do you have a favorite recipe for Christmas treats? Do you have a secret to making smooth, rich fudge that is nearly impossible to turn down? Or maybe some sweet truffles or cookies? Making a few batches of these goodies will make for great gifts! You could choose a few of your favorite holiday treats and arrange them on a plate, covered in plastic wrap. It’s so simple, but it will look (and undoubtedly taste) amazing and festive.
A similar idea is putting a personal twist on a classic, such as caramel corn or trail mix. If you’re going to give your friends a container of trail mix, for example, make it unique. Don’t put mixed nuts, raisins and M&Ms’s in a jar and call it good. That’s boring, and they can find that at the store. Maybe switch out regular candies for festive, Christmas-colored Holiday M&M’s. How about mixing in your favorite cereal? Have you tried dried cranberries instead of raisins? One idea may be to mix the batch in melted chocolate and sprinkle powdered sugar on it all, giving it a snowy look and feel similar to Chex Muddy Buddies. As long as you’ve given your mix some unique twist, put it into cheap containers and it’s ready to go! Your friends are sure to love your goodies, and your bank account will thank you; you’ve successfully saved money on another Christmas! The best part? You’ll have to try all of your combinations before you decide on the one to use. A delicious task, indeed.
Another fun and cheap present is a jar of ready-made dry mix. This could be cookie, muffin, pancake or any other dry mix. Layer the ingredients(flour, brown sugar, etc.) one at a time. This will look beautiful in a glass jar. Print off the cooking instructions, craft a cute tag and tie it on the jar! Whether it’s a recipe for apple muffins or banana pancakes, it’s a creative and thoughtful way to make life easier for a friend. Similarly, you could also do a themed basket, such as giving the ingredients for an Italian dinner or homemade snacks for a movie night (including a movie rental gift card!)
This is not an end-all list. The idea is to spark your inspiration! Often the best gifts involve spending time, not money. You can do this by appealing to the sweet tooth. By being creative, you can save plenty of money this Christmas. Figure out something that everyone likes, and find a way to give it some of your own personality. It’s very true that it is “the thought that counts”. Making something personal will almost always be remembered over a purchased gift. You’ll be happy with the money you save and your friends will be grateful for their presents. Just be warned: They may be looking forward to your treats again come next holiday season.