This is the third post in the Christmas series at From this Kitchen Table. (Find all the posts here.) Be sure to come back over the next few weeks to read more thoughts, get some new recipes, and receive gift ideas. You can follow us on Facebook or subscribe by e-mail to be sure you don’t miss out!
It’s December. Parties and dinners to attend. Presents or hostess gifts might be required. Every year I find myself brainstorming ideas for my church staff party and for family.
I’ve assembled some ideas that I’ve seen, received, or made. Make them simple (and super affordable) or add the optional ideas to jazz them up a bit. You could even combine a few baskets into one – Popcorn/Movie Basket and the Hot Chocolate one go together pretty well.
1. Hot Chocolate Basket
- Hot Chocolate: Purchase hot chocolate or make your own mix and package it in a small mason jar. You could also do hot chocolate balls or hot chocolate spoons
- Toppings: (place this in small jars from Hobby Lobby or little food bags)
Marshmallows (If you feel up to it you can even make them! These look yummy or check out this recipe for peppermint marshmallows. This recipe is made with honey)
Mini Chocolate Chips
Carton of Heavy Whipping Cream (optional)
- A mug or two (completely optional)
Find a basket or tin (Hobby Lobby has a great selection of both you can buy on sale) or even a gift bag and arrange all the goodies!
You can also put everything inside of the mug as packaging if you’re going to give it to a single person. Tie cellophane around it with a bow or ribbon to complete the packaging.
2. Tea Basket
I love tea but it’s not often that I splurge on a fun new flavor.
- Tea Bags Some brands to consider:
Yogi has some amazing flavors (Egyptian Licorice is fabulous, but it’s not recommended when nursing or pregnant)
Traditional Medicinals (choose this or one of the next two if you want the cleanest tea)
Celestial Seasons is an option available at your local store.
- Small Jar of Honey (Optional) Buy a small glass jar and put honey in it or buy a honey sampler already packaged.
- Packaging A basket or you may put a bow on a single box or tape several boxes together and tie it with ribbon.
- Loose Leaf Tea
- Stainless Tea Mesh Tea Ball
- Small Jar of Honey (Optional) Buy a small glass jar and put honey in it or buy a honey sampler already packaged.
- Packaging Leave it in it’s original packaging and tie the tea ball on with a bow or move the tea into a canister or glass jar and arranged in a small basket.
3. Ice Cream Sundae Kit
- Toppings: (Put the sauces in mason jars and place the other topping in small jars from Hobby Lobby or little food bags)
Hot Fudge Sauce (This recipe is super easy with sweetened condensed milk or try this one to make it from scratch)
Caramel Sauce (Here are a couple of recipes)
Chopped candy bars, cookies, sprinkles or whatever else you feel
Carton of Heavy Whipping Cream (Optional)
- Ice Cream Scoop (optional)
- Ice Cream Bowls or Cones (optional)
Find a basket or tin (Hobby Lobby has a both selection of both you can buy on sale) or even just a gift bag works great and arrange all the goodies!
4. Cheese & Crackers Basket
- Assorted Cheeses (personal favorites are Havarti and Smoked Gouda)
- Crackers (a box or two)
- Summer Sausage (optional)
- Specialty Jellies (optional)
- Small cutting board and knife (optional)
If you are using the cutting board you could place everything on top of it, wrap it in cellophane, and tie a bow around it. Otherwise the basket or gift bag route is a simple way to go.
5. Nuts and Dried Fruits (Healthy Snacks) Basket
This would be another one that I would love! These are all things I enjoy snacking on but don’t always have the budget to purchase.
- Snack Ideas:
Other dried fruits or nuts
- If you want something else to add, Lara Bars or dark chocolate are fun
- Packaging: Leave in original package, put in small food bags, tins from Hobby Lobby, or mason jars. Place in a gift bag or basket.
6. Candy/DIY Snacks Basket
Bag or bar of better quality chocolate (Ghiradelli, Lindt, a fair trade brand etc) or an assortment of them.
- Packaging: Put a bow on it or place in a small basket
- Make (Your favorite candies):
Caramel Corn (My Pinterest board dedicated to caramel corn recipes)
English Toffee (This recipe from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures look fabulous and for a twist on traditional toffee this Salted Toffee Pretzel Bark is incredible)
Truffles (Here are some recipes that look yummy)
Candy Bark (Another recipe from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Top with mini chocolate chips to avoid artificial colors)
- Packaging Place each type of candy into a small plastic gift bag (Hobby Lobby has cute ones), metal tins, boxes or do all three. Place in a basket or simply put into a gift bag.
7. Movie Basket
- Movie (optional) If you know a movie they’d love you can buy it, get a Redbox digital gift card ($10 minimum), include a couple dollars to cover a Redbox rental or skip completely and focus on the snacks.
- Popcorn Supplies
Popcorn Kernels – 1/2-1 cup of kernels in a bag, jar, or tin
Coconut Oil - (Makes movie theater like popcorn. Order online or you can find it at Wal-Mart now) A couple of Tablespoons per 1/2 cup of popcorn in a small container
Butter 1 stick is more than enough for 1 -1 1/2 cups of popcorn
Sea Salt Optional, as most people will have salt they can use.
Directions: Put oil and 3 kernels of popcorn in the bottom of a large pan with a lid and place over medium – medium high heat. When all three kernels pop add /2 cup or corn and put lid back on. Shake frequently until corn is popped. (May have to quickly empty out some of the popped corn to allow the rest to finish popping) Dump into a bowl and top with melted butter and salt to taste.
- Popcorn Seasoning (optional)
Add a few of their favorite movie candy bars or make these homemade Crunch or Heath Bars
- Packaging: Place all of the supplies into a large bowl (it will become the popcorn bowl!). You could find plastic or paper popcorn containers to add as well. Wrap a festive ribbon around the bowl and you are set.
- Fruit Whatever you like and what’s in season: apples, oranges, cuties (my daughter would love to see a basket of these), grapefruit, pomegranate, bananas, pineapple, kiwi etc. The options are endless.
- Packaging Arrange them all in a basket and add a bow.
What homemade gift baskets have you given or received?
This is the second post in the Christmas series at From this Kitchen Table. (Find the first post here.) Be sure to come back over the next few weeks to read more thoughts, get some new recipes, and receive gift ideas. You can follow us on Facebook or subscribe by e-mail to be sure you don’t miss out!
Here are 10 of the ideas that I came up with for gifts for a 2 year old. There are more, so eventually this might have to have a sequal and I haven’t even touched on books!
All these you can order from Amazon (affiliate links used). Be sure to order by December 17th to be sure your presents arrive for Christmas if you are using free standard shipping!
This is a fun first game for your child – boy or girl! The recommended age is 18 months and up. I’d agree with that. We bought this for our daughter’s second birthday and she loved it. Easy for them to catch on to and it is not competitive. At almost 3 she will still get this out to play.
Our daughter was given this for Christmas last year at 22 months. It was a challenge for her, but she quickly got good at it and learned shapes (quatrefoil, parallelogram, trapezoid) she otherwise wouldn’t have. This was an excellent step up from the 5 shape plastic shape sorter she had.
Okay, so this one is purely a want and non educational but my daughter has the Cloud b Twilight stars and she LOVES them. Every night she wants to fall asleep with them on. We were fortunate enough to find her red ladybug stars at a garage sale and it was a few dollars well spent. The Pillow Pet Dream Lites are quite a bit cheaper and isn’t the penguin adorable? We haven’t used one personally though.
5. Peg Puzzles
Puzzles are always a hit! The pegs make it easy for little fingers to grab. We still have some puzzles that I grew up playing in our house. It’s fun to watch our daughter use the same ones. I found a Curious George puzzle and some by Melissa & Doug and Hape that look good options.
What child doesn’t love color objects that they can stick all over the place? You can completely cater to your child’s interests here. This will take you to a general search.
7. Music Makers
Singing, playing the piano, picking up random sticks and banging on furniture playing drums are all things our daughter likes to do. She’d love a set like this - might get a little loud for mom though.
8. Flash Light
Any time we get a flash light out our daughter begs to use it. She’s going to be getting a flash light this year and I know she will be thrilled. We haven’t decided which on yet, but there are lots of options on Amazon.
10. Bath Toys
I love bath time! I get to sit and watch the kids play while reading a few pages of a book. Win win situation. We don’t have a lot of toys but what we have gets used! I prefer not having squirt toys (are any toys with small holes) because mold will end up growing inside. Click here to go to a general search page and below are some items that my daughter would enjoy.
What gifts have the 2 year olds in your life loved?
This is the first post in the Christmas series at From this Kitchen Table. Be sure to come back over the next few weeks to read more thoughts, get some new recipes, and receive gift ideas. You can follow us on Facebook or subscribe by e-mail to be sure you don’t miss out!
How many of us feel relaxed, carefree, calm, joyous and able to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest as we pass Thanksgiving and move closer and closer to Christmas? I know that most of those adjectives aren’t ones that would come to the front of my mind.
The season starts with a tree and decorating inside and out. There’s practicing for school and church Christmas programs. Then throw in holiday parties and open houses, caroling, lots of holiday baking. Oh yeah, don’t forget you have to see everyone in your family and shop for presents too. The 25th arrives before you have time to breathe. You wake up early, paper is torn off presents, food is inhaled, the car loaded and unloaded. When it all ends you are tired and exhausted, wondering what happened to the day. You might even be a little relieved it’s all over.
Maybe it’s time to do things differently. Maybe it’s time to slow down and think about what we are doing. Maybe we should focus on the true reason for celebrating.
Do you know what? We don’t have to do every little (and big) thing that presents itself to us. We don’t have to say yes! If Christmas isn’t about the presents, cookies, parties, get togethers, performances, elaborate decorations, fancy meals and so forth we should be able to say no (even when it’s hard) without feeling guilty.
Let go of the pressures and expectations that normally come along with this month. Let go of trying to keep up with the Jones’. Even let go of having to keep every tradition.
The Action Plan:
Sit down with your husband (or by yourself if you are single) and go over your plans for Christmas and the month of December. Discuss what traditions are the most important to you, what memories you want to make. Decide how you want to handle visiting family and parents. It is so easy to carry rules and expectations with us from our past. It’s important to remember that you are your own family now. It’s okay if how we celebrate looks differently than our friend’s, neighbor’s, or sister’s way. Your kids and spouse will probably be happier with doing less if it means a more relaxed and happier mom and wife.
When, after having this conversation, you find yourself saying no to activities, don’t feel bad. Remember you are saying yes to the ones that are most important to your family and allowing yourself the sanity to enjoy them.
What steps do you take to ensure you actually enjoy the Christmas season and focus on what’s most important?
Linking up to Teach Me Tuesday, Tending the Home Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, WFMW, Welcome Home Wednesday, Homemaking Link-Up, Thriving Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Essential Fridays, Faith Filled Friday, Weekend ReTreat, Strut Your Stuff
What a whirlwind week it was! Full of memories, lots of food, and family. We drove to one of my sister’s house for Thanksgiving and another sister and her family made the 9 hour trip from her house. It was a blast and my daughter loved getting to play with her adorable cousins.
December is here and that means all things Christmas. We started Truth in the Tinsel (affiliate link) and I have a list of goodies I want to bake and am brainstorming gift ideas for my staff party. Here on From this Kitchen Table we are going to spend the next several weeks talking all things Christmas. Gift ideas, recipes, and thoughts on this time of year.
The menu this week is pretty simple. We might be gone a few days but we are playing it by ear with the rainy and snowy weather that is coming.
- Apple Pancakes
- Apple Pancakes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Finish the 7-Day Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge
- Keep up with Truth in the Tinsel
- Get the house caught up from the post vacation mess
- 2 scripture pictures, gift post, and recipe post for the blog
Linking up to Menu Plan Monday
Here are the handful of links I have to share with you this month:
Learning How to Be Blessed – Allison Vesterfelt What does it mean to be blessed and what if I’m blessed and I don’t know it? Great post and reminder to keep my perspective in line.
There are Better Things to be than Rich – Becoming Minimalist (thanks to my sister for this and the previous link) There is nothing wrong with wealth and being rich doesn’t mean you don’t have these characters he talks about. For many of us, though, we’d live more fulfilled lives if we began chasing after these things that are better than being rich with as much intensity as we seek riches.
Your happiness… is not my responsibility – Renee Tougas Thoughts on whether other people’s happiness (even our children’s) is our responsibility
Slow Down Challenge – Jeff Goins This 5 day challenge won’t take much time out of your day but is a good one to take the time to do as we head into what might be the busiest month of the year. It’s hard to remember to savor and appreciate what we have in front of us when we have so many things to do..
Church for Men Did you know that the typical US congregation has an adult crowd that’s 61% female and 39% male? How about that over 70% of the boys being raised in the church will abandon it during their teens and twenties? Neither did I. This website is an interesting read. Their purpose is to help the local church reach more men and boys.
A Man Discovers He’s Sitting with ‘kids’ he saved from the Nazis – I had not heard of Nicholas Winton prior to this video and post. Even when everyone around him was saying there wasn’t going to be a war he did what he knew he should and made a plan to save the lives of the children around him.
What have been your favorite finds in November?
Linking up with Vanderbilt Wife
I’m excited! Coming up on the blog the month of December is going to be all things Christmas. You can expect posts with ideas for gifts, holiday recipes, and thoughts on Christmas and the season. What I’m looking forward to the most is having some of my family guest post! I’m excited to introduce them to you and share their thoughts and recipes.
Since Thanksgiving is this week, I’m cutting back on posting. I know I’m not going to be spending time reading and browsing the internet – I’m going to be enjoying my family! So, instead of writing posts that nobody is going to have time to read, I’ve decided to take focus on December.
This week is a short one. When it comes to menu planning the name of the game is to use up what’s in the fridge and hopefully avoid grocery shopping. Here’s our (non exciting) menu before we head into Thanksgiving activities:
- Bran muffins
- Apple Pancakes (from freezer)
- Chicken Gravy over Potatoes
- Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Creamy Potato Soup (with veggies added in – carrots, celery, and zucchini)
Goals (affiliate links):
- Start a new book! (Yep, that means I got both of the books finished from last week)
- Get the posts for the first week of December completed
- Start the 7-Day Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge (I’m only doing a few days this week because of Thanksgiving and am finishing it next week)
- Get ready to start Truth in the Tinsel
- Enjoy Thanksgiving weekend with family!
Linking up with Menu Plan Monday
Photo by Kara Bee Photography
We have pancakes on a pretty regular basis on our house. Normally a weekend lunch. They are an easy (and cheap) meal, our daughter inhales them, and pulled out of freezer they make the perfect weekday morning breakfast for my daughter. Sometimes it’s fun to change up the flavors. We’ve been having a lot of pumpkin lately but since I still have a drawer full of apples to use I decided to whip up some apple pancakes. They were a hit. My daughter ate four of them in no time at all and she can look forward to the leftovers all week for breakfast.
- 2½ cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar (I used sucanat)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or apple pie or pumpkin pie spice)
- 2 cups milk
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups grated apples (I left the skins on)
- In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.
- In a small bowl whisk eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
- Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently.
- Fold in the grated apples.
- Cook pancakes over medium heat.
- Top with butter and maple syrup.