When it comes to the holidays, the tradition of gift giving can end up being pretty pricey. However, the holidays are also a great time to exercise your treat-making and baking skills by creating thoughtful and delicious homemade gifts (plus you can redeem PC Optimum points towards your purchases at participating stores where PC Optimum products are sold).
Here's a list of homemade gift ideas, including a couple of semi-homemade options, plus tips on how to package everything. Your DIY holiday gifts will be the hit of the season.
Shortbread cookies are synonymous with the holidays, with plenty of recipes online to help you out. But why not mix it up a little? Think about rolling the log of dough in coloured sugar, sprinkles or even crushed candy canes before it’s sliced into cookies. For those looking to add a hidden surprise, you can even wrap a piece of chocolate in the dough before it’s sliced and baked.
Decorated sugar cookies are another staple of the holiday season. Versatile and relatively easy to make from scratch or by using a mix such as President’s Choice® Sugar Cookie Mix, a standard recipe can be made festive with cookie cutters and by exercising a little creativity. Decorate baked cookie surfaces with coloured frosting; create stained-glass cookies by spooning crushed hard candy into the cut-outs of the unbaked cookies (on a baking sheet) and then bake until the candy is melted and the cookies are golden.
Sandwich cookies can be made by capping one jam-topped cookie on top of another—just make sure it is the bottom surfaces that are sandwiched together by the jam. For a prettier version, consider preparing half the cookies with a cut-out that can be made fancier by brushing the surface with an egg wash and decorating the top with sliced almonds before baking. Once cooled, the cookie with the cut-out is used as the presentation side of the sandwich which can be finished with a dusting of icing sugar.
Macaroons are another easy option, and they’re gluten-free—they are made of shredded coconut, condensed milk and egg whites. Dress up the confection either by drizzling melted chocolate over their surface or dipping their bottoms in chocolate and placing them on parchment paper until set and packaged.
To package the cookies, you’ll need an assortment of paper baking cups in various sizes, food safe bags or containers, tape and ribbon. Place one or two cookies in an appropriately sized baking cup, then package with the presentation side up and seal with a ribbon tie.
Biscotti are another low-effort cookie with good results. Follow any standard recipe but spice it up by adding either chopped PC® Dark Chocolate with whole hazelnuts or chopped dried fruit and almonds to the dough before it’s baked, sliced and baked again. The twice baked cookies can be drizzled with melted chocolate for a fancier finish.
A great DIY gift that requires little work but some patience and counter space are crystalized sugar swizzle sticks. Heat two cups of water with six cups of white sugar until boiling, stir until the sugar is dissolved and then let boil for one more minute. Take the sugar solution off the heat and allow to cool before pouring it into tall glasses or jars—each glass will be used for a swizzle stick. Next, dip wooden sticks into the cooled sugar syrup, roll them into dry white sugar that you have on standby, and place them back into the glasses. You can use clothing pegs to hold them upright. Allow for sugar crystals to form (it takes about two or three days). Once ready, take the crystalized sugar swizzle sticks out of the syrup and allow for any liquid to run off before placing them on a paper towel to dry. When dried, package in a food safe bag or tie together with a festive ribbon.
Recipes for loaf cakes or muffins are simple to follow and can be made from scratch or using boxed baking mixes such as PC® gluten-free cake mixes for glute-intolerant recipients and PC® cake baking mix for others. Simply wrap the finished loaf in a food-safe cellophane gift bag and tie with a festive ribbon or decorative cord. Alternatively, place a half-dozen muffins in a food-safe gift box or a cleaned food container, before tying the package up with a ribbon.
Since time is so tight for many during the holidays, picking up ready-made treats and repackaging them into holiday-ready presents is an acceptable alternative that’s equally well received. Simply head into the holiday aisles of a grocery store and choose some pretty decorated cookies and treats such as PC® Luxury Biscuit Assortment, PC® Festive Chocolate Collection or PC® Maple & Bacon Popcorn. All you’ll need are some food-safe cellophane bags to redistribute the treats (go with a two-serving size minimum for each package) before securing each package with some curling ribbon. Place an assortment of the repackaged goodies into a gift basket or bag and supplement the treats with a mix of small chocolate bars, holiday mints, PC® Old-fashioned Handcrafted Candy Canes, coffee beans, tea bags or PC® Hot Chocolate mix.
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