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Many people now feel that the materialism associated with Christmas has gotten out of hand. Personally, all that pressure to “buy buy buy!” leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Some years ago, I attended a Christmas morning gift unwrapping session at a cousin’s home. With mainly gift cards exchanged, I wondered, “Why don’t they just throw a big pile of money in the middle of the living room and dig in?” But I digress…
All of these gifts are delicious treats that I have made in past years that people absolutely loved. In fact, you may have the ingredients for many of these gifts already in your pantry. Where certain ingredients are most likely going to need to be purchased (light corn syrup, whipping cream), I draw attention to shared ingredients across the ideas below. Even if you aren’t a great cook or don’t have a lot of experience in the kitchen, there is time to practice them, eat the results of your trials (yum yum!), and perfect your skills for your gift batches.
Skill level: Beginner
These truffles are so rich that you could give someone a dozen as a nice gift or mix up a half dozen with one of the other ideas below. As such, they make fantastic low-cost holiday gifts. If you can chop an 8-ounce bar of pure baking chocolate into little tiny pieces and warm some cream on the stove or in the microwave, you can make these truffles. No other baking or cooking is required! Warm cream is used to melt the chocolate.
This recipe has two other ingredients that are optional and offers a video and tips on every step of the process. I made these last year for my aunt, who is a total chocoholic, and she raved about them for weeks.
The cost: around $5 per dozen
Skill Level: Intermediate
A beginner could try these, but it would be best to have a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the candy mixture as you heat it on the stove. Once these candies are heated to the proper temperature, they are simply scooped onto parchment paper to cool. No further baking required! I made some for Christmas gifts years ago and was successful on my first try. Sweet and delicious! The pecans add a nice dimension to the fudge-like texture.
This recipe is classic and offers some good tips for beginners. With only seven ingredients (brown sugar, salt, butter, pecans, vanilla extract, whipping cream, and light corn syrup), you may have many of these already in your pantry.
Mind you, nuts are more expensive these days, so buying in bulk or already in pieces would help save on those. Invest in the corn syrup for a few dollars and use the rest as an ice cream topping! The truffles also require whipping cream, so buy in bulk to save there. One batch with pecan pieces might cost around $7 or $8, but it makes 36 pralines, so if you give a dozen as a gift, that is quite an affordable price per gift!
Skill Level: Beginner
One year, I had fun making gingerbread at home. Instead of making gingerbread men, however, I did something completely different. I rolled out the gingerbread and cut it with a knife into rectangular slabs. Then, I had fun making the gingerbread into a “Christmas card” by writing the recipient’s name and my (brief!) holiday wishes on the gingerbread “card.”
Even though I would not really call myself an artist, I was able to pipe out a basic icing onto the gingerbread without a lot of difficulties. As my mother is quite a baker, I borrowed her icing piper and bag. You can buy a basic piping bag quite inexpensively at a local discount store or be a real Frugalite and borrow one from a friend.
I used red and green food dye to make three colors and went to town. If my friends had a cat, I made an icing cat. If they liked skiing, I drew some skis. To box my creations, I bought plain white boxes that I tied with inexpensive colored ribbon. These were gratefully received (and eaten!).
You may have many of these items already in your pantry (flour, butter, milk, eggs, molasses, brown sugar, baking soda). While there are more ingredients in these “cookies” (12 in total), 5 of them are simply spices. This recipe also has a lovely icing recipe included with only four ingredients, which is another way to use some of that bottle of light corn syrup you’re now planning on buying!
While this recipe makes 24 gingerbread men, I would say you can likely make at least six of the gingerbread Christmas cards I’m describing. I think the cost per “card” might be something like a dollar or two at most.
Thrifty gifts from the heart…for the stomach!
Spending some time in the kitchen can save you a lot of cash. Could you see yourself whipping up any of the low-cost holiday gifts shared here? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!