Thursday, January 12, 2012

Homemade Peppermint Hot Chocolate Gifts

This is another Christmas post, but it makes a good gift for any wintery occasion. Enjoy, and please excuse the bad pictures. Of course I did this late at night the day before I needed to have everything done.

Do you enjoy giving or receiving food gifts at Christmas time? How about trying this easy and yummy Peppermint Hot Cocoa recipe! It's an easy and inexpensive project. And with a little creativity, you can make it cute too!

Here's the basic recipe:

6 candy canes, crushed
2 cups powdered non-dairy creamer
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa

Mix all these ingredients together and wah-lah! You're done with the food prep step of this project. A few tips: I unwrap my candy canes and crush them up in a freezer bag with a mallet, but if you have a food processor, this might work too. Also, one recipe makes about a jar and half's worth of cocoa mix.

Now, for making our jars pretty! Type up some simple instructions, print them off, and cut them out.

Next, scrounge up some leftover bits of wrapping paper. Cut into rectangle that are a little larger than the piece of paper that have the recipe. Use your hot glue gun, and run a thin line of glue along the edge of each side on the underside of the recipe paper, and place on top of your pieces of wrapping paper. Now you have some cute labels for your jars!

Now, you will need several clean canning jars, or if you want to be really frugal and do a little recycling too, save your used spaghetti jars, wash them thoroughly, and use Goo Gone to get rid of any residual glue from the manufacturer label.

Make sure your label fits on your jar.

Now, holding the label in place, let one side hang open and run a thin line of glue along the edge. Press it into place firmly, as the coolness of the glass jar will dry the glue quickly.

Do the same on the other side of your label, and you have a cute jar, ready to be filled with cocoa!

Now it's time to make those lids a little prettier! I don't have pictures of this step, but find a small well-ventilated area where you can use spray paint without creating a mess, lay out all your clean lids on a piece of cardboard, and spray with a can of glossy red spray paint. I got mine from Wally World for about $3. Use light thin coats of paint to cover the writing on the lids. You may need to do several coats, but it is better to do that than to use too much paint, as it will just run on the metal lids. Once your lids are finished being painted and are dry. Give them a light rinse in some soapy water and dry them off. Then screw onto the tops of your jars and you are finished!

I did about 18 of these jars in one late evening. They made great gifts for all my husband's co-workers, as well as the ladies who watch my daughter and help me with crafts at our MOPS group.

Mix three tablespoons of hot cocoa mix with hot water, or with hot coffee to make a Peppermint Mocha! If you want to get all fancy, top it all off with some real whipped cream and some Christmas sprinkles. Yum!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wrapping Up Christmas

I know Christmas is over, but I really enjoyed wrapping up all the presents this year, so I thought I'd share what I did.

Here's the assortment of presents we had under our tree on Christmas Eve. My husband and I always set a budget for what we will spend on each other and then do our individual shopping. This year it seemed like we bought each other several little things instead of one or two larger gifts, so between that and what we got for Miss V, and my family (we'd already celebrated with my husband's family), there was quite a pile under our tree!

Inspired by many photos on Pinterest, I wrapped a lot of our presents in brown craft paper. Anything oddly shaped got wrapped in plain white tissue paper, since I think it is easier to work with. Then I decorated each package with some ribbon I bought, as well as some other things I had on hand, such as book pages!

Many of our gifts got tags made of book pages and layered with a piece of plain white computer paper.

And then towards the end, we got lazy and just wrote on the package itself with a black sharpie. That's one advantage to using plain paper, the writing shows up well and I think, looks very nice.

On some packages I used a nice chunky ric-rac I found at a fabric outlet. On this one I got creative using scraps of book pages, craft paper, and more computer paper. I also used leftover red yarn from V's birthday party to decorate many of the gifts. It looked nice against the tissue paper and the craft paper.

I love how they look together! I know, I have to enjoy doing things my way while I can before expectations of pink wrapping paper take priority over my own ideas!

On this package I used a strip of white tulle, and then cut out V's initial from a book page. Since she's the only one with that initial in the family, there was no question who it was for.

I used the same Idea to cut out a letter for Aunt K's pillows. For this one, I backed it with a scrap of craft paper, to help it stand out better against the white tissue paper.

We had a few Christmas parties to attend in December. For the one our small group from church does every year, there is always a dirty Santa gift exchange. I decided to make one of my book page wreaths to take to the party, and had fun wrapping it with a piece of wide crocheted lace I found at a local fabric outlet. It just seemed like a package that large needed some over-sized trimmings! After I put on the piece of lace (with packing tape, it works great for unusual gift decor), it still needed a little something, and I had nothing on hand that fit the bill, so I made a large bow out of strips of book pages. I then hot-glued the bow to the package. (Yes, you can use hot glue when wrapping presents, it's great for adding all those homemade tags!)

I love how it turned out. I added a small box of chocolate, in case the recipient didn't like the wreath. The funny thing was, although several of my friends have mentioned how much they like book page wreaths, this package was so light-weight, everyone was afraid to open it for fear it was a gag gift. Lots of people picked it up and gave it a little shake, but it took a while before anyone was brave enough to open it. Fortunately, it went to someone who really liked it and is crafty herself, so I was happy to see she was even saving the lace to reuse for another project. Man I love that lace! It's such a fun and unusual thing to put on a package.

Did anyone get creative this year wrapping presents? I know it's a chore for most folks, but I've always found it rather fun, even relaxing. Of course, I only have one child, and don't give a ton of gifts. I may change my tune in a few years!