Merry Christmas Eve everyone! As the year is ending, we often find ourselves catching up with family and old friends. Between work, holiday parties and gatherings, and personal responsibilities, who’s got the time to sort out gifts, meal planning, and other holiday details? I sure don’t, and I’ve been relying on some tricks I’ve picked up here and there to keep me afloat. These tips and ideas, combined with my last holiday post, will make you prepared for any social gathering or holiday.
You have a holiday gathering tonight, and you don’t want to show up empty handed. Gasp! You’ve completely forgotten to go shopping for gifts, and even worse, you’re a bit strapped for cash. DIY gifts are the way to go, my friend. You know what will also be a bestie? The dollar store. For me, that’s the Dollar Tree, and I absolutely love and swear Dollar Tree for my last minute gift wrap necessities. Need wrapping paper? Dollar Tree. Need gift bags? Dollar tree. Making some hand painted glasses or other DIY project? The Dollar Tree. For more DIY friendly supplies, going to Michaels or craft stores a few days before Christmas is a great way to find cute containers on clearance.
So you’ve got the gift wrap and containers, now what in the world are you going to put in it?
I have relied on three things this year, and all of them were super easy to make and put together. Just add some cute gift tags, and you’re good to go!
1) Granola – You can find the granola recipe I posted a few months back here. I modified the granola to have some holiday flavors by adding pumpkin spice in the granola coating. You could also infuse cloves and cinnamon in the syrup. Just be sure to take out the spices just before pouring over the granola mixture. I also added walnuts and pecans to my granola mixture for a more festive touch.
2) Danish Butter Cookies- As a child, I used to love eating those Danish butter cookies that came in the blue tin. This year, I’ve made my own using this recipe from Traveling Foodies. For warmth and flavor, I added grated orange zest and nutmeg. These cookies will go great with hot cocoa, tea, or coffee. I topped the cookies mixture of white and gold sprinkles, combined with vanilla sugar, for a classic look. Use red and green sprinkles for some holiday cheer.
3) Instant Pancake Mix- I have used Nigella Lawson’s instant pancake recipe for years now. It’s easy to put together- just mix, pour into cute glass jars or festive containers, and you’ve got a great gift! Just be sure to write out instructions on a note card for your gift recipients. I like to add mini chocolate chips to the mix as a sweet surprise. With some raspberry & honey syrup, you can also whip of these pancakes in an instant for a quick and tasty holiday breakfast (see below).
4) Gift Wrapping Idea- Wrap some twine around the wrapped gift a few times, tie a knot in the back, and slip a small branch from your tree (it's ok, no one will notice) underneath the twine. It'll add a nice touch to the gift. You can also use rosemary or lavender.
Have you temporarily gone insane and volunteered to host a holiday gathering? Don’t know what you’re going to eat after the gifts have been opened? I’ve created a menu that will satisfy almost all taste buds and cravings. There is savory, sweet, creamy, and crunchy - you’ll be the holiday hero for sure.
Potato Pancakes with Ginger crème fraiche & smoked salmon
Pancakes with raspberry & honey syrup
Using the instant pancake recipe mentioned above, make a batch of these pancakes. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of frozen or fresh raspberries with ½ cup of honey. Bring to a boil and lower to heat so that the syrup will simmer for a few minutes. Spoon syrup over the pancakes and top with whipped cream, toasted almonds, and meringue (optional).
Greek Yogurt with homemade granola & local honey
If you have some extra granola left over, sprinkle some over your favorite yogurt, then top with honey and your favorite fruit.
Mimosas & Hot Chocolate
For mimosas, combine orange juice with champagne or Prosecco. I’ll leave the amounts up to you.
For a rich and velvety hot chocolate, heat ½ cup of cream and pour over 2/3 cup of semisweet chocolate. Whisk until you have a thick ganache. For every 2 table spoons of ganache, add one cup of warmed milk, stir until the ganache and milk are completely combined.
While rushing about trying to get everything taken care of, we often forget to take care of ourselves. Please be sure to hydrate, exercise, and eat as healthy as you can. It would not be good if you were to catch a cold during the holidays. In the event that you do find yourself feeling under the weather, I find that this drink usually does the trick.
Honey Ginger Lemon Tea
Pour boiling water over 1tsp of grated ginger, a tablespoon of honey, and 1 slice of lemon. Let steep for a few minutes before drinking.