I love the Christmas holiday. The lights, the baking, feelings of joy, and shopping. . .well, not really shopping. Shopping is always a bit stressful this time of year. I never seem to know what gifts to give and I never stay within the budget I set for gifts. *Enter* homemade gifting.
There is a variety of jar recipes from cookies to soup mixes found online and in books such as the Gifts in a Jar series by G & R Publishing. Do-it-Yourself Christmas jars are fun, easy, and inexpensive. Attractive and consumable, these gifts are always well received.
1-qt. Glass Mason Jars with Lids
Scraps of fabric, tissue paper, or recycled paper bag
Ribbon or string
Optional Trinkets for Decoration: beaded wire, small cookie cutter, little whisk or wooden spoon
Christmas recipe cards or cardstock for printing jar tags
Orange Dreamsicle Cookies are a popular gift jar recipe:
Gather your ingredients. Be sure your jars are clean and dry.
Pour in the first layer– 3/4 cup granulated sugar.
Add 1/2 cup of orange flavored drink mix as the second layer. I suggest to add a little less; 1/2 a cup tends to be too sweet and tangy.
For the third layer, pour in 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. baking powder.
Tamp the ingredients to pack them firmly.
Then add the fourth and final layer, 1 1/2 cups white chocolate or vanilla chips.
Screw the lid on tightly.
Top the lid with a scrap of fabric or paper and tie securely with ribbon or string. I used a circle cut out of brown paper I saved from the tubing of gift wrap.
Attach optional embellishments and a recipe tag that reads:
Orange Dreamsicle Cookies
Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. Empty dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of butter or shortening, one egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Blend thoroughly. Form into 1-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet 2-3 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes or until tops are golden. Makes 2 1/2 dozen. Notes: Dough will be a little crumbly. After mixing, it should knead into balls. If not, add an extra egg white to the mix.
Another popular recipe is Country Bean Soup. I found a wonderful list of ingredients and instructions to create a dozen jars of soup mix posted on The Savings Lifestyle. In my recipe for this soup, I suggest using diced ham or a ham hock.
Consider hosting a Christmas Jar Party with a small group of friends. Plan your list of recipes and have each person pitch in money toward items you purchase or each bring certain items for everyone to share. I found these cute little canning party printables that can be customized for such an occasion.
There really is no wrong way to make a gift jar. The idea is simply to choose a recipe in which the dry ingredients can be layered into a mason jar in a festive manner.
This past week I found a recipe for Pistachio & White Chocolate Chip Cookies by Honest Fare. I plan to scale back the recipe to fit it into a jar layering, first, with rolled oats, then flour, baking soda, salt, a small circle of parchment to create a barrier, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and top with a ziplock bag full of white chips and chopped pistachios.
Directions: Preheat oven to 350°. Pour sugar layers into large mixing bowl. Cream sugars with 1/2 cup unsalted butter on high for 3 minutes. Add 1 egg, 1 tbsp. milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Remove parchment barrier from mason jar. Pour remaining dry mix into butter mixture and thoroughly blend. Fold in pistachios and white chips. Drop heaping spoonfuls of batter onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until tops are golden.