Presents for all

21/07/2012 17:36

Giving and receiving presents is part of the magic of Christmas.

Homemade gifts made with love are a wonderful way of expressing ones feelings for family and friends.

Get in the kitchen and bake some delicious edibles or pack a hamper / basket full of desirable bits and pieces. Putting together items that reflect a persons passion will delight them and also give them something to treasure. There is something for everyone!

 Gifts from the Kitchen

Why not get creative in the kitchen and bake some edible offerings. Wrap them in pretty paper and present them in little gift boxes wrapped with a ribbon bow.

Makes ~ 18-20
50g butter
50g caster sugar
50g plain flour
2 Tbsp golden syrup
40g chopped mixed peel
40g chopped glace cherries
40g flaked almonds
75g plain chocolate, melted

Preheat oven 180 C gas4, Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a heavy-based saucepan, remove from heat and add the flour, cherries, peel & almonds mix well. Onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment , drop teaspoons of the mixture leaving  space for them to spread.
Flatten with a spoon and bake for 8-10 mins until golden. remove from oven and leave on baking sheet for a couple of mins, then move to a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile melt the chocolate, when the florentines are cold, drizzle over with chocolate and leave to set.

makes ~ 800g
397g can Sweetened Condensed Milk
150ml  milk
450g  demerara sugar
100g  butter

Grease an 18cm (7 inch) square tin.
Gently heat all the ingredients in a large, nonstick saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously. Test the fudge by dropping a little into a jug of cold water. If a soft ball is formed the fudge is ready. Remove the pan from the heat. Beat the fudge until thick and grainy (10 minutes). Pour into the prepared tin and leave to cool. When cold, cut the fudge into squares.

*Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
*Try different flavourings ~
*Rum and Raisin ~ Stir in 2tbsp of dark rum and 100g chopped raisins.
*Fruit and Nut ~ Stir in 75g mixed dried fruit and chopped nuts.
*Chocolate ~ Stir in 150g melted plain chocolate.

Makes ~ 40
500g icing sugar
1-2 egg whites
1/2 tsp peppermint essence
100g dark chocolate

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy and add enough of the egg white to icing sugar to form a stiff paste, then mix in the peppermint essence. Roll out the paste on a surface dusted well with icing sugar, roll to about 7mm (3/4 in) thickness, using small pastry cutters cut into rounds or which ever shape you prefer. Leave them to dry for 2-3 hours. When ready, melt the chocolate and dip half of each peppermint cream into the chocolate and allow to dry on greaseproof paper, for around 5 mins.

Make a Tea Drinker Happy

Pack a pretty tray with goodies that tea lovers will need for that perfect cuppa. Add a tin of Christmas Tea, a lovely cup and saucer or a mug, a bar of delicious chocolate or a batch of those delicious biscuits from the kitchen, and maybe a couple of christmas teacloths and all tied together with beautiful ribbon-makes a wonderful gift.


Cooks of all ages will love a brand new set of baking utensils. Fill a large mixing bowl with a variety of cookie cutters, wooden spoons, icing set and a few special recipes. Also adding a pretty apron would be nice.


Gardening Goodies

A basket or trug full of garden goodies is always welcome. A nice pair of gardening gloves, a fork and trowel set, pruners, a few reels of jute twine-  comes in many colours these days to match the flowers! Don't forget a big tub of gorgeous scented hand balm, and a bar or two of beautiful scented, handmade floral soaps, perfect after a day in the garden.

I think a lovely and thoughtful gift to give some one who enjoys gardening is flower press and scrapbook, also a diary so they can note down their year in the garden. Another great gift for a gardener who loves to grow their own fruit and vegetables, is to fill a shiny stainless steel pan or jam pan with cooking goodies. Add a recipe book for making Jams and Chutneys, also add a few nice jars, labels and wooden spoons.

Encourage kids to get out in the garden and enjoy the great outdoors. Make it fun and pack a kiddies wheelbarrow full of gardening goodies - little gardening tools, packets of seeds, gardening books, watering can, welly boots and nature activities, there is something to suit kids of all age groups.

Wildlife Lover
A great gift for those who love wildlife would be to fill a pretty planter or basket with goodies to help with attracting the wildlife to the garden. Fill with an assortment of bird feeders, nuts and seeds, a bird nesting box and maybe even a small pair of binoculars and a bird book, which will help to identify which birds are visiting the garden.  Also little houses for insect, ladybirds, bees and butterflies to shelter in your garden during the cooler months. Be sure to include a selection of wildflower seeds to sow for nature.