Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mix It Up Christmas Gifts

It's here, that gluttonous time of year that everyone enjoys but regrets come January. It would be fine if it just meant a big Christmas dinner (or even three). But it's not. It's a month of food laden parties, baked goods at work, and the one that keeps on going long after you've had your Christmas fill- token gifts.

Token gifts are the ones you ones you give and receive with people you like but don't know extremely well. Teachers, neighbors, extended family, casual friends. It's a way of saying 'Hi, I think you're nice. Merry Christmas!' And while the feeling is there, the problem is these gifts can't be all that personal. That's why they usually end up being edible. Either boxed chocolates or baked goods.

Everybody loves chocolates and baked goods. But the timing is just so WRONG. Anyone who gets a box of chocolates or a plate of cookies randomly in say... May, would be overjoyed. But in December when you've spent the entire month stuffing your face with high calorie foods and cooped up indoors, sometimes MORE sweets make you feel a little green. It also doesn't help that in reciprocating you're usually baking something yourself- which involves a bit of taste testing- both batter and finished products.

This year I decided to do away with holiday baking. I am going to give something that is impersonal, edible, yet more PRACTICAL than the rice crispee squares of last year and the cookies of the year before. This year I'm mixing it up!!!!

Because the first 'exchange' is in less than a week, I decided to get myself started today. I ventured to the dollar store and stocked up on some pretty glass jars.

I have decided to make salsa mix for people this year because it's one of my favorite mixes and is perfect for holiday entertaining.

This one cup glass jar fit exactly one 'big batch' recipe of salsa mix, which is enough to make a 2 cup batch of fresh salsa six times.

Depending on how 'big' the mix is you can use different sized jars or containers. A seasoning mix might only require a regular sized spice jar, while a baking mix might fill up a bigger plastic container used to store flour or sugar. Pick your mixes depending on personal taste- a diabetic isn't going to want something sugar laden, while someone with an ulcer isn't going to want something spicy. The best thing about mix gifts is you can somewhat personalize the impersonal gifts.

Some mix ideas....

Beverage Mixes

Hot chocolate mix
Chai tea mix
Italian mocha espresso mix
Mint hot chocolate mix

Snacking mixes

Dill pickle popcorn seasoning
BBQ popcorn seasoning
Ranch popcorn seasoning
Nut free trail mix
Falafel Mix
Brushetta mix

Dip Mixes

Lemon dill dip
Pesto bread dipping oil
Herb and garlic bread dipping oil
Herb and garlic cream cheese
Spinach dip
Crab dip
Bacon chili cheese dip

Meal mixes

Fajita seasoning
Teriyaki seasoning
Taco seasoning
Lemon chicken sauce

Later on I'm going to either buy some sticky labels or cardboard tags to attach with ribbons. These will give the name of the mix and any instructions for preparation (for instance you use 3 tablespoons of salsa mix for every 2 cups of chopped tomatoes). The good thing about these mixes is you can also give instructions on refills. Just give them a link to my blog where they can find the mix recipes :)

If you're tired of the calories consumed from eating batter and broken cookies from holiday baking, or the green half smiles from your recipients, try mixing it up instead this Christmas. Be unique, give a tasty mix.

(ps... to the neighbors who bake us cookies- we don't mean yours! WE STILL WANT THEM! YOUR COOKIES ARE LEGENDARY!)

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