Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Melinda's Homemade Gifts

If you follow me on instagram (and you should!), you may have seen some pictures from the Christmas brunch I hosted this past Sunday and the treats I made for my guests.  We have some really close friends that we give small gifts to (like Mr. 3's best friend and his wife) and also some really good friends that I would love to give gifts to, but we just can't afford to do it (I'm a big gift giver...I love the whole practice of shopping, searching, and wrapping up gifts in beautiful packaging).  Since we were hosting the brunch, I decided that what we could afford to do was pass out homemade gifts as a favor for the party.  

I really enjoy trying new recipes so I found a recipe for making homemade toffee in a cast iron skillet  (the skillet is amazingly easy to clean out and heats the toffee evenly).  I have had one failed attempt at making candy before (didn't use a thermometer...which is when I learned the lesson that one can't "eyeball" the cooking temperature of candy), so I was a bit apprehensive about how it would all turn out.  Over the summer, Briana and I also found a Southern Living recipe for different types of fudge sauces that looked relatively simple.  I started by tracking down the supplies for both recipes and wound up buying the ingredients from Walmart and Safeway.  The packaging supplies came from Amazon and Michael's.

Both recipes were super easy to follow, but the biggest issue was that it's not like throwing a cake in the oven, with these treats you can't leave the stove because they require constant stirring. Check out the links above to find the recipes, but I wanted to give the cost break down for each treat.  I made two batches of toffee (which made about 15 treat bags) one with nuts and one without and two batches of bourbon hot fudge sauce (which made 10 jars).

Skillet Toffee Cost Breakdown
Butter - $5.92 for 2 lbs.
Sugar - $3.18 for a small bag (which I also used in the fudge sauce)
Pecans - $0 (Mr. 3's mom gave me a few small bags at Christmas for snacks.  I toasted them with some cinnamon by tossing them in a small cast iron skillet and putting them on low heat.  Make sure to stir frequently so they don't burn.)
Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips - $5.92 for two bags
Vanilla Extract - $0 (already had)
Salt - $0 (already had)
Total: $15.02 or about $1 a bag

If you don't have the nuts or vanilla extract, I would imagine your total would be closer to $25.

Here's my really off center pre-packaging shot!

Bourbon Fudge Sauce Cost Breakdown
Unsweetened Ghiradelli Chocolate Baking Squares - $10.06 for 16 oz.
Butter - $1.46 for two sticks
Sugar - $0 (used left over from skillet toffee)
Bourbon - $0 (already had)
Vanilla Extract - $0 (already had)
Salt - $0 (already had)
Total: $11.52 or about $1.15 each

If you don't have bourbon on hand, run to the liquor store and buy a mini-bottle from behind the cash register.  That should cost between $2-4.  You only need a little, so one bottle should do it.

As for packaging costs, I bought most of my items from Amazon.  I used these jars for the fudge sauce:

Ball Jar Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands, Quilted
$7.19 for 12 jars
Image Source: Amazon

I liked them because they are quilted, a good size, and a great price.  Make sure to wash them before you use them, they had a funny smell when I opened them up.  I also bought cellophane bags to put the toffee into for $2.99.  I also bought some silver bag twisties for 99 cents to tie off the bags.  Finally, I bought a set of gift tags from Michael's for $1.49 and I ordered this red baker's twine to add a festive touch to both treats.  I hand wrote "Merry Christmas!" on all the toffee and I also labeled the fudge sauce and wrote reheating instructions on the back of the tag.

Bakers Twine by Hemptique
Image Source: Amazon
Packaging Cost Breakdown:
Cellophane Bags - $2.99
Jelly Jars - $7.19
Baker's Twine - $4.49
Tags - $1.49 
Twisties - $0.99
Green Pen - $0 (already had)
Total Packaging Cost: $17.15

Here is a picture of how the toffee turned out.  I think it looked super cute!  I don't have a picture of the fudge sauce as I spent the first 15 mins. of my brunch party tying on the tags and didn't get a chance to snag a picture of the finished product.  Whoopsies.

Final Product!
 Total Cost Breakdown for my Homemade Gifts: $43.69

I gave a bag of toffee and jar of fudge sauce to every couple and single person which was about 19 people total.  I also gave an extra bag of toffee to my unmarried friends who don't live with their significant other and I had one bag of toffee left that I slipped into a friend's present that I shipped out this morning.  I also have two leftover jelly jars and a good sized roll of baker's twine...which may come in handy for Valentine's Day presents for Mr. 3.  Timewise, not counting shopping, I spent about 3.5 hours making and packaging the gifts, mostly because I didn't have pans big enough to do both batches of toffee at the same time.

Overall, I really like how the gifts turned out and it wasn't expensive or too difficult to make.  Our guests also seemed really excited to get treats to go too!  Are you making any gifts this Christmas?  What treats are easy to make and fun to give out?  Let us know in the comments section!