Media sources are reporting that more people are planning to give homemade gifts this holiday season. Between the economy and a trend towards more meaningful living, DIY Christmas presents are enjoying a resurgence. That’s good news all around, because it means that not only can you make a serious cut in your holiday budget, but you can be assured that more people are coming to appreciate the time and effort that you put into the homemade presents you give.
Easy Classic Homemade Gift: Mason Jar Mixes
One easy classic and always appreciated (and useful!) gift is the pre-made mason jar mix. It’s a win all around because with just a few economical groceries you can make many mix jars to give as presents, and it’s something anyone can always use. There are a variety of mixes well-suited, tried and true for just this purpose, so you can easily find something (or a few somethings) to work up in short time for a number of recipients.
Making Your Mason Jar Gifts Stand Out
Finding good mason jar gift recipes isn’t hard. You can search online, or there are some very good books that have done the work for you. There are a few tips, though, that will help ensure your gifts are instant attractions and go over in a big way:
Keeping it Simple: choose recipes that are both easy for you to prepare (so that you don’t get stressed out over it) and also for your gift receiver. The idea is to give something useful and yummy and make your gift recipient’s life easier. Consider that people have all different levels of cooking skill. Choose a recipe that is easy to follow and prepare so you don’t have to spend a lot of time guessing who might be able to prepare what mix. Make it Appealing: as in, the idea of the recipe; as in, something anyone can recognize as something good. Classics like sugar cookies and brownies that everyone loves are good candidates.
Fill the Jar: the best presentations are recipes that fill the jar nearly to the top, without a lot of empty space. This just plain looks better when giving premade mixes as gifts, but it also helps to keep things in their places if you are going for something with a layered “sand art” effect. Keep in mind that mason jar and canning jar sizes are standard: quart jars (the most common size for mason jar gift mixes) hold four cups; pints hold two). So look for recipes that are close to two- or four-cup increments.
For example, in Make-Ahead Mix Day these recipes will fill the jar up as written: Oatmeal Cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Double Batch Sugar Cookies, Brownies, Chocolate Chip Muffins, White Cake, and Chocolate Cake. Just know that often the fit will be tight (as it should be) and you may have to tap the jar and help things settle.
Added Extras: when you have a good recipe that is just a little shy topping up the jar for a good, full fit, try adding in some extras. Most recipes will benefit from additions like chocolate chips, raisins, dried fruit, or perhaps a small bag of confectioner’s sugar settled into the top for topping or glaze mix. This is a good way to make that mix “just right”. Make-Ahead’s Cappuccino Muffins and Gingerbread are good examples here.
Make it Pretty: Once your mixes are made, a pretty presentation is all that is needed to make it just right. A Round of festive cloth, an upside-down printed muffin paper, some ribbon or some twine are all you’ll need to top up your jars and make them the gift that everyone will love to receive.
Guest blogger Mary Ellen Ward is the author of Make-Ahead Mix Day: Complete Recipes and Instructions for On-Hand Homemade Quick Mixes. Her book is available via Amazon for Kindle eReader and also through her website, http://thehomemadehomestead.com/