Category Archives: Christmas Articles

Christmas Mix Recipes in a Jar

Sometimes it is the simple things in life that make us happy. Easy Christmas gifts in a jar are one of those simple things. And they can become one of your family’s Christmas customs you enjoy year after year.

Love to make gingerbread cookies? Why not put the ingredients in a jar; write the recipe on red construction paper; cut the construction paper to the circumference of the jar; and wrap the construction paper around the front of the jar with white ribbon. Place a green bow on top of the lid of the jar. Then your friends have one of your favorite Christmas cookie mixes in a jar recipe.

Brownies are delicious gifts anytime of the year, but especially during the Yuletide season. Look up your favorite brownie recipe and put the ingredients into a cool-looking jar. List the the recipe, roll it up, and place the rolled recipe into jar along with the ingredients. Wrap the jar in colored plastic, and tie the cellophane with a bright, red ribbon.

How about those spice green and red candies? You can find them sold in most stores. These are perfect Christmas mix recipes you can stuff in a jar and wrap in colored plastic.

Jelly beans in a jar are another traditional holiday gift. Quick & easy to fill your jar. Jelly beans are delicious and low in calories as well.

M&M’s in a jar is another wonderful Christmas treat. Buy a bag of red and green M&M’s. You might mix & match-plain & peanuts. A green Coke bottle works well with these candies, and anyone would love to receive it.

A traditional Christmas gift in a jar is the colorful hard candies, such as peppermint sticks; Christmas hard candies with filling; red and white mint swirl candies. What a great way to save money and have an inexpensive Christmas gift idea for a large extended family.

For chocolate lovers, why not find some delicious chocolate pretzels to put in a jar. They come in packages and are available in your local grocery store. What a sweet treat this gift would make. Everyone will love it.

How about theme gifts in a jar? Some examples are chocolate golf balls, chocolate baseballs, chocolate footballs, and chocolate soccer balls. Any of these fun theme gifts would be a hit with anyone who enjoys these sports. You might even use a few real mini-balls to make a great homemade, non-food Christmas gift in a jar.

No matter what you choose, whether time-honored, far-out, home baked, or bought in a store, making easy Christmas gifts in a jar is fun and allows you to be as creative as you want to be. Christmas mix recipes can be an inexpensive treat to give to your friends, colleagues, and even members of your family. The best part is you can go to your local store or shopping mart and gather all your favorite sweets and chocolates to make as many jars as you need. Most of these jars make fun, holiday gift ideas under 10 dollars. Have fun and be creative!

Kerry Beck gives free advent calendars with daily Christmas activities to prepare your family for Christmas. Your family will learn more about Christmas customs with some of her daily activities. You can get her FREE Advent Calendar Countdown at

How to Be Festively Frugal and Still Afford All the Usual Christmas Gifts

Traditionally, the festive season is a time for giving but the reality is that many of us simply cannot afford what we may have had in previous years. The recession has certainly changed the manner in which we approach the festive season rush, and has definitely changed our behavior when purchasing gifts.

A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it is easy to exchange. ~Author Unknown

It is not the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it. ~Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

Here is a list of clever ways to not break the bank this festive season that will allow you to budget effectively but still spoil your nearest and dearest, albeit with a careful grip on the purse strings!

1. Draw Names – If you have always bought individual gifts for your extended family, consider drawing names instead. Put all their names in a jar and each person pulls one and buys or makes a gift for that person. Some families even have the children do this within the immediate family. It is a great way to do Christmas on a shoestring budget.

2. Give a Family Gift – Rather than purchasing individual gifts, purchase one gift for the entire family. Board games, photo books or family journals are great choices.

3. Make Homemade Gifts – Now, now! Homemade does not have to mean strange looking pottery or inedible homemade culinary ‘delights’! Search on line for craft ideas that involve supplies you already have around the house. Photo albums are always appreciated by grandmas and grandpas while tasty baked treats are received with delight by neighbors and friends!

4. Gift Certificates for real life – If you want to survive with your wallet intact during the Festive Season, do not buy expensive store-bought gift certificates. Instead, make your own. Print your own certificate from you or the kids for a free car wash or a ticket for planting the garden in the spring. The recipient/s will enjoy those so much more than a purchased gift that would probably just end up sitting at the back of a closet.

5. Swap Toys – If you are worried about getting toys for the children, but cannot afford the prices during the Festive Season, consider swapping toys with neighbors. As long as the kids do not live right next door to each other, no one will be the wiser.

6. Shop Second-hand – With careful shopping, you can find brand new clothing for a fraction of the cost you would pay in a department store.

7. Do not shop for yourself – All the special offers around at this time of year make it easy to adopt a one for me, one for you mentality. Set a rule that you will only shop for the people on your list – not yourself! The payoff: Less clutter in your home and more money in the bank!

8. The gift of your time – This is the thing that many people most want, even though you cannot technically wrap it up and put it under the tree. Consider spending time with those you love, as a gift for them this Christmas. Not only will it help your pocketbook survive the Festive Season but it will also strengthen the love you feel for each other.

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Frugal Christmas Table or Mantle Decorations

If decorating for Christmas is one of your passions and you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend, which most of us don’t this year, look to nature for frugal mantle or table Christmas decorating ideas.

There is a bounty of decorating opportunities growing right outside either your door or someone else’s.

It’s always easier to dash in a store and buy what we like, but for a fraction of the cost you can buy all the things you need to fabricate wonderful creations. Best of all is the satisfaction you will feel over not only the sense of accomplishment, but also over the compliments that might be tossed your way over your effort.

We seldom take a serious look at the different things we have to work with.

Pine cones are probably the best Christmas decoration ever invented, all thanks to Mother Nature. They come in all sizes and if you live in an area where Pine trees grow, they can be gathered for nothing more than the cost of gas to get there and a little exercise on your part.

Once you get them home, it’s up to you as to how you want to decorate them. Inexpensive spray snow and spray glitter are as close as your local craft store.

Think sequins or fake rhinestones glued to each tip. Once you’ve got them all decorated, place them in a large glass bowel or a large metal colander with fancy Plaid ribbon tied around the base, place this in the center of your table with your choice of candles on each side and you now have a table centerpiece for Christmas.

If you know some one with a Holly bush who is willing to let you cut branches from it you can make a dramatic statement by putting about four, three foot long branches in several of those never used vases left behind from other flowers you’ve received.

These vases are normally either clear or green in color and a simple plaid bow tied around the center of each will bring it right in line with Christmas. For understated elegance on your mantle, position 3 of these vases equally spaced on you mantle, 2 to the sides and 1 in the middle. Best of all, you’ve hopefully only had to spend a couple of dollars on a few yards of ribbon.

Perhaps you feel really crafty, in which case you can decorate empty eggshells with glitter, ribbon, and rickrack; in Christmas colors of course. Then just scatter them down the center of your table or mantle and put small groupings of candles here and there along the way.

You don’t have to stop here, there are many other types of branches you can use, as well as other items besides pine cones and egg shells that can be decorated in the same manner.

For more Frugal Decorating ideas along with a free gift giving Christmas eNewsletter visit: With Frugal Home Design you can Save Money and Give More!

Thoughtful, Practical and Inexpensive Gifts

Handmade and practical gifts are once again acceptable as the economy continues to put serious strain on household budgets. It’s not about how big or how expensive your present it, but how much thought and attention you put into it. Truly this is the way gift-giving for any event should be and as households struggle, the focus is once again on what makes a present special, not how much you spent on it.

Not every thoughtful and practical gift requires special skills and talents or a lot of money. Here are just a few ideas:

Microwave Cozies-Microwave cozies are a great way to spread the warmth! Literally! One bag of special cow corn, a few yards of fabric and straight stitch sewing will yield gifts for dozens for less than $30!

Coffee Basket-Give your favorite coffee lovers a gift bag filled with homemade flavored coffees! You can easily make up flavored coffees and maybe even find small, inexpensive jars or containers at a local dollars store to place the coffees in to (thinking ahead on this and watch at flea markets and tag sales for small containers or canning jars and even saving small jars at home that you can wash and hand label will work).

Mixes in a jar-Trying to find a use for those old canning jars? Consider mixes in a jar! You can print up labels and color them in with pencils. Add a bit of ribbon and colorful fabric and you’ve got a beautiful, easy and delicious gift!

The Mason Jar Soup-To-Nuts Cookbook: How to Create Mason Jar Recipe Mixes

Frozen Cookies Logs-Make up batches of your best cookies recipes BUT instead of baking them off, roll them into logs, then wrap in plastic wrap and then place into freezer bags. Keep them frozen and then arrange them in baskets last minute to give as presents. People pay big money at the grocery store for cookie dough in the fridge or freezer section because they’re craving the smell and comfort of home baked cookies. All they have to do with your logs is defrost and bake off. Include a nice handmade recipe card with the cookie logs with baking directions.

Your Best Recipes-Are you the one that always bakes and cooks great dishes and has everyone asking for your recipes? Well, now’s the time to give them; as presents! You can find recipe books at dollar stores and other shops for very little. It will be your time and effort of writing down those recipes and organizing them for friends and family that will be the real gift!

Chores Coupons-Do you have a skill or talent that you think others would love to utilize? Maybe you have a chain saw and you know a friend that has a tree he’d love to take down. How about a coupon for a day’s worth of chainsaw work? Maybe you are a great baker? How about giving friends coupons for a loaf of homemade bread when they present the coupon (with notice of course)? I know my neighbors covet my homemade bread! Perhaps you have a friend who could use an extra hand with housekeeping or grocery shopping? How about a coupon gift for that? You’ll think of something.

The idea is that presents don’t have to be pricey. They can be homemade and from the heart but not be hard to make or require special skills either. With so many people getting back to the basics of life with this economy, your homemade and practical present will be welcomed more than ever before.

This article is by Tammy Paquin, owner and publisher of  It is available for reprint with ALL links active.

Holiday Recipe: Filled Cookies

From the book: Christmas In Dairyland (True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm)

When I was a kid growing up on our dairy farm in Wisconsin 40 years ago, cookies with a date filling were my dad’s favorite kind. Here is the recipe.

• 3/4 cup butter or margarine (softened)
• 3/4 cup shortening
• 2 cups sugar
• 3 eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 5 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• several tablespoons of milk if the dough seems too dry
• Jam: blackberry, black raspberry, strawberry, red raspberry, plum conserve, apple conserve, or date filling (recipes for plum and apple conserve and date filling are included below.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. If the dough is too dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk. If the dough seems too wet, add 1/4 or 1/2 cup of flour.

Roll out dough. Use either a small round cookie cutter or one large round cutter. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet. Put one tea-\spoon of jam (or other filling) in the middle of the smaller rounds or off to one side of the larger rounds. Place another small round on top of the small rounds; fold the larger rounds in half. Use a fork to crimp the edges together and to poke holes in the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until light brown.

This recipe makes about six dozen filled cookies.

The recipe can also be used to make cut-out Christmas cookies frosted with colored icing.

~ Plum Conserve ~

If plum conserve is made specifically for filling cookies, store any that remains in the refrigerator and use on toast or biscuits. The conserve can also be sealed in pint jars. (This recipe makes about three pints.)

• 8 to 10 fresh, large, ripe plums
• 1/2 cup of water
• 4 cups of sugar
• 2 cups of raisins
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Pit the plums and chop into small pieces. Place in a large saucepan and add the sugar and water. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the lemon juice, raisins and walnuts and cook for 10 minutes longer, stirring constantly. (Note: Recipe can also be made using 3 cups of chopped apples instead of plums. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.)

~ Date Filling ~

• 3 cups chopped dates
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 2/3 cups water
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (10 or 15 minutes).

LeAnn R. Ralph is the author of the book: Christmas In Dairyland (True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm). Share the view from Rural Route 2 and celebrate Christmas during a simpler time. Free shipping on autographed copies.