I can’t believe Christmas is almost here! I wish I could say that I had done all of my shopping months in advance, but despite my good intentions, that is probably never going to happen. 🙂 So I wanted to share with you one of my solutions for finishing that gift list AND having fun at the same time!
Having just popped into the mall recently, I know that many of you are in the same boat as me, scrambling to check those last few names off your list. It can become very stressful trying to find the “perfect gift,” not to mention worrying about how much you’re spending.
I do believe that you can create an amazing holiday, even while on a budget. One of the things I try to do is focus on experiences instead of things. We are usually fortunate to have a little extra time that we can spend together as a family, as school is on break and most of us have at least a few days off from work. Planning holiday-themed family activities not only beats boredom from being cooped up in the house, but we can also use these as opportunities to create meaningful (and budget-friendly) handmade gifts.
Every year our family has an ornament-making party, and this year I had the idea for a new tradition: a food-gift party. I found this Citrus Sugar recipe in Maggie Battista’s new book Food Gift Love and thought it would be perfect for such an occasion. Not only is it a super-simple process, but the supplies only cost a few dollars. However, the result is an absolutely gorgeous (and delicious) present for just about anyone on your list!
There are so many beautiful recipes to choose from in Food Gift Love, but I wanted to share this one because I loved how it turned out!
Here’s what you need to make Citrus Sugar (amounts are for one jar):
- 1-2 cups granulated sugar (to fill the jar you’re using)
- 3-4 citrus fruits
I happened to have on hand limes, mandarins, lemons, and one big grapefruit — we usually don’t have quite that many varieties of fruit in the house, but how lucky we did!
Start by using a zester or a microplane (pictured below) to collect the zest from each of the fruits. You’ll want about 4 tablespoons of zest per gift jar (this was about 3-4 small fruits).
Using a fork, spread the zest evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat (which is what I used).
Bake on your oven’s lowest setting (150-170°) for about 10 minutes. You want the zest to be dry, but not burnt, so keep an eye on it. You might need to cook a couple minutes more or less depending on your oven.
Once the zest is dry, remove from the oven — it should cool very quickly. Add to your granulated sugar and use a fork to gently stir until the zest is mixed throughout. You can then add it to your jar and decorate!
Here are some tips for hosting a Food Gift Party of your own:
- Decide on one recipe and a simple, but tasteful, way to wrap it. (For the citrus sugar, I used a mason jar with ribbon tied in a bow around the lid.)
- Set a budget for everyone to equally contribute to, or assign ingredients to be brought by guests. (For example: one person brings fruit, one person brings sugar, etc.)
- Set the time and place that is most convenient for everyone. (Scheduling a time during the afternoon might help avoid conflicts with holiday parties and family dinners.)
- You could even opt to create different recipes and exchange them at the end of the party with each other! (Draw names from a hat to decide who will be paired up to exchange their dishes at the end.)
For more recipe ideas, check out Maggie Battista’s new book Food Gift Love. She even provides lots of stunning gift-wrapping inspiration!
**This giveaway is closed. Subscribe to the Soccer Mom Blog to stay up to date for more! I’m thrilled to partner up with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to give away THREE amazing prize packs featuring Food Gift Love by Maggie Battista, plus two other lovely holiday cookbooks!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; however, all opinions are 100% mine. Recipe adapted from Food Gift Love by Maggie Battista; used with permission.