Gift baskets during the Holiday season are not only fun to plan and prepare, but one of the very best gifts to give friends and family.
Most people are overjoyed to receive a basket full of homemade goodies and actually look forward to them every year.
Don't be surprised when they start making special requests for their favorite goodies you've placed in their baskets the previous year. It will actually make it easier for you because you know what they like and can add extras and make it more personal.
Seeing the delight in the eyes of your friends and family and the smiles on their faces makes it all worth the time and effort. I sometimes picture my loved ones in my mind as I'm baking and feel the anticipation of giving them their treats.
I shop for baskets throughout the year at resale shops and garage sales, keeping an eye out for the best ones that look like the sizes I would want to use.
I don't like to get them to large where it might be difficult to fill them and make them look full.I don't like them to look like Easter Baskets either. Although all baskets can be spray painted, I really like the look of a natural basket.
I usually end up paying a quarter to fifty cents a piece. It's a great saving compared to what you would pay in the store and I can usually find them made with much better quality.
Although I have been known to be short a basket and had to pick them up at the store. A good rule of thumb is to have a couple extra just in case someone unexpected is in town or someone who may be in need that is alone for the holidays.
I also make sure to have the right number and size of mason jars I plan to use for that Hot Cocoa Mix. Any nice jars can be used as long as they have nice lids to go with them.
I also use small muslin bags to tie to the jars to complement the cocoa and fill them with things like candy canes, mini marshmallows, and sprigs of mint from the garden. They can be purchased for around 12 cents a piece or if you sew they are pretty easy to whip up.
Tissue paper works very nice for lining the inside of the baskets. If you have some pretty fabric, that works get as well. You can also use the tissue paper for wrapping some of the goodies and tie them with ribbons or raffia.
I use plastic wrap for most of the baked goods. I think it makes it fun because they can see everything and it keeps things fresh as well.
Some of my favorite recipes that have the most requests are Mini Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaves. They work out great because they can be made ahead of time and put up in the freezer very nicely. I can usually fit 4 loaves to on large ziploc bag. That gives you time to work on other things that don't do well frozen. I simply take them out of the freezer when it's time to fill the baskets. Wrap them in plastic wrap and tie them with raffia. You are welcome to visit my kitchen for the recipe.
Just have fun with it and most likely you know some favorites that your family enjoy as well.
Today we are making Gingerbread Man Cookies. This is a very easy cookie dough to work with and they taste great too!
This is one of the most fun things to make at Christmas Time when you include your children in the activity.
My little grandson had a marvelous time last year as I supplied him with his own little rolling pin and cookie cutter and his own dough to play with. He also has to wear his little chef in training apron.
I've included a fun story time that you can share with your little ones while baking. Just click HERE and have fun!
Gingerbread Man Cookies
- 2 ½ cup organic unbleached bread flour
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ginger
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ½ cup unsalted butter soften
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup molasses
- ¼ cup brewed coffee or water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter soften
- 1 tsp. Pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tbsp milk
- OR Lemon Icing Very Good!
- 2 cup powdered sugar and 2 to 3 tbsp lemon juice
- Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add molasses and coffee. Combine flour, spices and salt and baking soda in a separate bowl and whisk until well blended. Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture and stir together until well blended. Form dough into a log and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Cut log in half and store one half in the refrigerator to keep it cold. Dough is easier to work with while it is cold. On a lightly floured surface roll dough to about ¼ inch thickness. With your favorite Gingerbread Man cookie cutter begin to cut your cookies. Place carefully on your ungreased cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven. Do not let them get to dark. Remove from cookie sheet to cool completely.
- Decorate your gingerbread men as you please and tie a ribbon or raffia around his neck. Let frosting harden before handling.