Thursday, November 20, 2008

5 Budget Friendly GIfts for giving

This year will be really tough for many people to get everyone gifts. Working retail for 10 years has helped me figure out budget friendly gifts. Each year I would try to do a simple gift for everyone (staff of about 20-30). Some more elaborate than others but everyone received something from me. So here is a list of small things Ive done over the years. All can be altered however you want. Most edible items can be bought in bulk to save money.
1. Warm Belly Delight-1 coffee cup filled with cocoa mix or coffee mix with a candy cane and handmade tag. Coffee mugs you can find in many stores for only $1. (Michael's, $1 store,etc). Here's a vanilla coffee mix
1 1/2 cups vanilla powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup instant coffee granules
Combine all ingredients;store in airtight container.
Instructions:Use 3 tbsp mix for every one cup boiling water.
$1 coffee mug, cocoa packet (zip lock bag), instructions on back of handmade tag, one candy cane.

2. Tasty Herb Mix-Clear glass sugar shakers or old fashioned salt shakers are clever containers that are sure to please. You can find these in thrift shops everywhere. Just add ribbon. Put mix in these.
Herb Mix
1/3 cup powdered milk 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt 1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika 1 tsp dill weed
2 tsp dry mustard 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried oregano 1/4 tsp pepper

Add all ingredients together in a one cup jar or shaker. Mix well. Makes 2/3 cup mix. Attach recipe.
Suggestion:Herb chicken. Combine 4 tbsp of herb mix with 6 tbsp of flour. Coat 2-3 pounds of chicken. Brown chicken in 2 tbsp of oil for 15 minutes on each side or untill juice's are clear when pierced with a fork. Or do the same and bake chicken instead.

3. Noodle Soup Mix. Fill a basket or jar with this noodle mix with a loaf of bread or your favorite crackers. This one is super cheap to make and give.
Noodle Mix
4-5 oz of egg noodles salt and pepper to taste
3 tsp chicken bouillon granules (or 3 cubes) 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp celery seed 3 bay leaves

Mix all ingredients and put in a bag with these instructions.
Combine noodle mix and 6 cups of water in a pot. Add carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Makes 2 qrts.

4. Brownie's-Use small jars, vintage cook bowls, etc from thrift stores. Add mix, maybe throw in a wooden spoon (found at $1 store 4 ct). Super easy and budget friendly. Mix makes enough for 2 batches of brownies.
Brownie Mix
4 cups flour 4 tsp baking powder
6 cups sugar 3 tsp salt
3 cups baking cocoa 2 cups shortening

Combine first 5 ingredients;mix well. Cut in shortening. Store in air tight container or use wrap.
Combine 2 cups of mix, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of optional nuts; store until moistened. Spread in a lightly greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until set in center. Cut in 2 inch squares. Makes 16.

5. Snowy Morning Waffle Mix. Again try to find vintage kitchen bowls or vintage Tupperware containers at thrift stores. Also throw in a wooden spoon ($1 store)This one is sure to please everyone. Can be made as waffles or pancakes. Super yummy!

Waffle Mix
2 tsp brown sugar 3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder 1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking soda

Mix and put into container. Makes 4 cups of mix. Attach these instructions to the mix with a handmade tag(or bought from $1 store)
Instructions: Separate 4 eggs. Beat yolks with 1/3 cup oil and 3 cups of milk; add waffle mix, blending till smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff;fold into waffle batter. Pour onto greased waffle iron (or griddle)and bake until steam stops.

6. Bean soup-MAKES 10 GIFTS! I just love this one. Put into small containers of your choice found at thrift stores. Can be stored for years if wanted.
Bean Mix
1 lb pearl barley 1 lb dried black beans
1 lb dried red beans 1 lb dried pinto beans
2 lb dried white beans 1 lb dried lentils
1 lb dried split pea 1 lb dried black-eyed peas

Mix together into large bowl and divide into 10 containers. Tie recipe card with the directions.
Directions:Put beans into bowl and add water up to top of containers;soak over night. Next day drain water and replace with new water; enough water to cover beans. Add 1/2 lb of ham or bacon chunks.(optional). Throw in 1 clove minced garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or till beans are tender. Add 16 oz can of undrained tomatoes. Simmer 30 minutes longer. Makes 8-10 servings.
Not only does this make a lot of gifts for around $1 each, but they will bring it home and it will serve 8-10 other people. Its the gift that gives so much.

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