Becka Wall – @beckawall

‘Tis the season… for gifting, cookies, holiday parties and blowing half your paycheck on holiday gifts for all your friends and family.

The holiday season can be rough if you’re on a tight budget. Here are a few ideas of things you can make to share en masse with family and friends this holiday season.

Cookie/Candy Care Packages

Nothing says “I care about you” like supplying your loved ones with sweets. Stock up on the baking essentials – flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, oil, eggs, vanilla, oats, brown sugar, etc – and pick a few recipes with cheap mix-ins like chocolate chips, nuts and seeds from the bulk aisle of your grocery store, or all that leftover Halloween candy.

Chocolate Candy Buttons – These are so quick and easy to make!

Image result for christmas pretzel buttons

Ingredients:

  • Square grid pretzels
  • Hershey’s hugs
  • M&Ms

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  • Lay parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet (or two, if you’re ambitious).
  • Place square pretzels on the cookie sheet, and put a hug on top of each pretzel.
  • Place the cookie sheet(s) in the oven, and heat for 2-6 minutes (I like to check every 2 minutes) until slightly softened.
  • Take out of oven, and quickly place an M&M on top of each melted hug (If the pointy tip gets a bit burnt, snap it off before placing the M&M).
  • Let cool overnight, then put in bags or boxes!

(We also love) Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies – This recipe, from Bon Appetit, is my all-time favorite. They are the perfect balance of sweet and salty, with an added bonus of and warm and gooey on the inside.

(Oh oh and one more) Brownie Cookies – These cookies are a mix of the best two baked goods: brownies and cookies. Find the recipe here.

DIY Baking Mixes

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Look up the dry ingredients and mix-ins for a brownie or cake recipe. Mix the dry ingredients together, and then put them in a jar (you can buy them in bulk here, or simply wash out and reuse the ones leftover from pasta sauce or jam). Get some ribbon from your nearest dollar store, and wrap it around the jars. Write up what’s involved to finish the recipe, print it out, and BOOM – you have yourself a cake mix to gift to all your friends!

Handwritten Holiday Cards

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Sometimes, the most meaningful gift you can give your friends and family is the gift of telling them exactly how much they mean to you. Buy some cheap holiday cards (you can buy 16 holiday cards for $3 at Target in the dollar/”Spot” section), and don’t hold back – pour your heart out on the paper.

The Gift of Time

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We all live incredibly busy lives, and often forget to spend time with the people who matter most to us. Home for the week? Make a plan to spend the whole day with your parents, grandparents or siblings. Have young nieces/nephews/cousins? Book a day to spend just with them, going to the park or making cookies. How do you gift that? Design some cute coupons to wrap in really big boxes.

What are your affordable holiday season hacks? Tell us below!