The countdown’s on. One week ’til Christmas. Kids are on holidays, social engagements are mounting and we’re all trying to work out how to finish the last of the Christmas shopping without having to endure the Christmas rush.
Even though Christmas exhausts me, I have been delighted by some of my kids’ quirky Christmas rituals. One that’s now in its second (or third?) year is a very thrifty idea for gift-giving to family members. If you’re needing to save a few dollars, or lamenting about the sheer volume of stuff that finds its way into your home at this time of year, you may like this one.
My kids sneakily confiscate their siblings’ belongings and gift-wrap them. The gift wrapping turns into a bit of a craft project, with presents piling up under the tree. They just like the thought that all those pressies are for them. I was a little concerned this year when I caught my eldest daughter gift wrapping my favourite lipstick, but she assured me that I had another in the same shade. It’s all a bit of fun, although last year the whole scheme nearly came unstuck when my other daughter took my husband’s credit card and wrapped it. It was a good thing we caught it in time!
This idea came from my brother who, one year when we were kids, had no money to buy presents. So he individually gift-wrapped bananas for each family member. It was a thriftily clever idea, as it remains the most talked-about Christmas that we’ve ever celebrated together and the story is now family legend.
We had a lot of gifts to give to teachers and other significant people this year. I had plenty of preserves in stock, but I also wanted to do something a little different. So we made scented candles in recycled glass jars. The kids then decorated each candle with stickers, hand-written labels and drawings. I made about six candles for the same price as one good store-bought scented candle, and each person who received one was touched by the lovely gift. I’m going to keep that idea up my sleeve for next year, and I think I may also branch out into making my own flavoured tea blends. I’ve heard that they’re really cheap and easy. If you’re interested, here’s a guide to get you started.
This is my last post for a few weeks. I’ll be taking time off to recharge the batteries over Christmas and New Year, and to fine-tune the new developments for this blog. I’m really looking forward to sharing the news with you.
In the meantime, if you’re feeling the effects of pre-Christmas indulgence, you may want to give this recipe a try. Heck, you could even make it for your next function or gathering. I love the Christmassy combination of chocolate and cranberry, but with cacao powder, you get the chocolate taste without the hefty side-serving of sugar and fat. These balls are gluten-free, dairy-free, table sugar-free, egg-free, nut-free and vegan…. but I promise you they’re not free of taste! I developed this recipe for the November 2014 issue of Nourish Magazine.
Thanks so much for supporting this blog in 2014. I’m delighted with the way it has grown and the online community that comes with it. I wish you and your loved ones a joyous and peaceful festive season and a very happy New Year. I’m looking forward to catching you again next year.
200 g dates
150 g desiccated coconut
20 g raw cacao powder
150 g dried unsweetened cranberries, roughly chopped or processed
20 g coconut flour
50 g coconut oil, melted
50 g desiccated coconut, extra, for rolling
Place dates in a large bowl and add water until dates are fully submerged. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Drain dates in a sieve and then transfer them back to the bowl. Using a handheld stab mixer, blender or food processor, purée the dates until smooth. Allow to cool a little.
Put 150 g desiccated coconut, cacao powder, cranberries and coconut flour into the bowl. Add coconut oil. Stir to combine. The mixture will be quite firm.
Roll dessert-spoonfuls of the mixture into balls. Roll balls in the 50 g desiccated coconut. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
Makes 26 -28 balls.