Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen

As the holidays loom ever nearer I start to think of all the people in my life that I feel obligated to give a token of thanks to. You know those people who play a peripheral but important role in your life like daycare workers, teachers, bosses, neighbours, etc. So now that we are living under the constraints of a budget, this task has become somewhat difficult but I feel it’s important to show these people that they are appreciated. Sure, we pay them regularly but they are often those people who are under appreciated.

As my children grow older, I am starting to recognize just how important a positive relationship with our neighbors and service people is. It truly does take a village to raise a child and given both my husband and I work, we have to rely on others to make sure our children are safe and taken care of. I can honestly say that our daycare providers, teachers, scout leaders and coaches are not paid enough to do the job they do and a few dollars thrown at a meaningful gift is well worth it.

So how do I keep costs down but still make these gifts something special? This is going to take some thought and elbow grease, I just know it. If I’ve learned anything during this budgeting journey it’s that anything worth doing, takes work. Luckily I’m pretty handy in the kitchen and there are plenty of recipe and “gifts from the kitchen” sites out there to help me along. And to be perfectly frank, I’m in to slaving over a hot oven just to avoid the sense of impending doom when the January credit card bill arrives. You know that feeling that the mail box is going to clamp down on your hand and suck you into a swirling hell of red numbers?

As I posted in an earlier blog about giving homemade gifts at a wedding, I think going the simpler route and giving something from the heart can mean so much more than sticking an impersonal (albeit practical) gift card in an envelope. So here I go again, delving in to the realm of Santa’s Workshop, or maybe Mrs. Claus’ kitchen!

One great idea was given to me by a very good friend when we were on our camping trip this summer. She pulled this plastic container out of her cooler one morning and offered me some homemade Irish Cream for my coffee. It was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my life and it turns out its pretty simple and budget friendly to make. This will be great for bosses, neighbours and family members! Here’s the link;

http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2009/12/homemade-baileys-irish-cream-youll.html

I also used some of the vegetables we grew in the garden over the summer to make some pickled onions for our British family members, some spicy pickle relish for our spice lovers and some bumble berry syrup for our sweet-tooths. Many preserving recipes can be made in small batches and with vegetables and fruits purchased at the grocery store. www.bernardin.ca is a great source of creative and reliable canning recipes, including the ones I’ve mentioned here.

I also love to give baked goods because I can make them in fairly large batches. There are a ton of recipes on the internet for Christmas cookies and many of them freeze well so they can be made well ahead of time. I also have a cookie press which makes some pretty fancy ‘spritz’ cookies that look fantastic in a little dollar store tin.

Coffee cakes and sweet breads are also great gifts. They’re easy to make and just scream “love from the kitchen” don’t you think? One of my personal favourites is Amish Cinnamon Loaf. The recipe makes two breads and takes minutes to throw together. It can be found here; http://www.redflycreations.com/2012/10/the-amazing-amish-cinnamon-bread.html .

So far we are well on our way to getting through this holiday season on a cash budget and a big part of this is attributed to giving homemade gifts. They‘re given with just as much love, or maybe more, than our practical friend the gift card and we’re excited to give them. In fact, my son is absolutely thrilled to be giving his teachers something he helped make and we have snuck in another all important lesson in on the value of giving! Aren’t we smart!

Welcome to the holiday season and happy frugal living!

Kara

avatarAuthor Bio ~ Kara (45 Posts)

Kara is a 32 year old mother of two little boys, balancing a career in social work with a crazy family life. After helping others all day she loves nothing more than to play with the kids, curl up with a good book or cook up a storm. Learning to balance a budget and live within her means is Kara’s next great adventure!


3 Responses to “Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen”

  1. Great ideas, Kara. I ,too, like to give homemade gifts, especially baked goods. I find that trays or containers of fancy cookies are always a hit. Some people don’t have the time to make their own. Also consumable items are good for people who have everything already, or those whose style you don’t really know. In the past I have also made molded soaps and candles to use as Christmas gifts.

  2. In your list of receivers of gift/cookies etc I also include the mail carrier, garbage & recycling people and paper deliverers (including the pennysaver if delivered. It shows you respect them and appreciate their services.

  3. It’s really a cool and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you shared this useful information with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

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