Holiday Candy Cups and Saving Money with DIY Gifting

It’s Christmas Eve, and I don’t know about you, but by now I’ve read about 793 different blog posts with titles like “Top 10 Gifts for Vegans” or “25 DIY Gift Ideas” or “100 Best Cookie Recipes of All Time.”  There’s even been a whole book written about edible vegan gifts!

I live for stuff like this, and I get a lot of inspiration from others.  This year I had kind of a sensory overload though, from the sheer volume of beautiful and thoughtful ideas I came across.  In the end, I decided to just keep it utterly simple when it came to my own gifting.

That is how these Holiday Candy Cups were born.  The flavor variations are endless, but the pictures below show my Toasted Almond, Mint Chocolate Cookie, Sweet and Salty, and Coconut varieties.

Holiday Candy Cups 006

I first made these candies for our holiday party last weekend, and then made some more to pack into adorable little tins to give to coworkers.

If you would like to read more about how I made the Holiday Candy Cups pictured above, please click over to Chic Vegan and check out my guest post there today 🙂

As I mentioned yesterday, I also decided to create some more chocolatey goodness in the form of Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods with assorted toppings.

Pretzel Mug 002Chocolate covered pretzels with crushed candy canes

You can obviously be as creative as you like with the toppings on these.  I ended up going with half toasted coconut and half crushed candy canes.  I wanted to do some with a peanut butter drizzle but ended up being a bit too pinched for time.   Maybe next year!

I am gifting these in holiday mugs like so:
Pretzel Mug 006

The pretzels are really yummy (I know because I had, um, the broken ones), and I think the gift came out looking pretty and festive too!

Pretzel Mug 007

One other thought on the subject of DIY gifting…
Like most people my age that I know, I don’t have a ton of cash to throw around on gifts.   It can be hard enough to buy for your immediate family and closest friends, but I find the difficulty is compounded when trying to factor in people from work, extended family, neighbors, etc.  Often times these are people you don’t even know that well.

In those situations, edible and other handmade gifts really are an economical way to spread holiday cheer a little further beyond your immediate circle!

Case in point: the mugs in which I packed the pretzels cost 80 cents apiece at my craft store.  EIGHTY CENTS ya’ll.   And they were not junky; they were clean, sturdy, and dare I say attractive.  At a price like that, I can afford to give a gift to all of my coworkers, our mail carrier, and my favorite bartender rabbi too!  Plus, it’s a pretty safe bet that each of those people (assuming of course that he or she is a human) likes candies and cookies.

Oh also, the chocolate that I used for the pretzels came from Trader Joe’s.  It is good quality, vegan dark chocolate, and it comes in a 1-lb. bar that costs $4.99.  You really can’t do better than that.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I am sending each and every one of you my warmest wishes at this festive time of year.  Happy Holidays!

So Much Christmas

My weekend in a nutshell: so much incredible vegan food, and SO MUCH CHRISTMAS!

H and I kicked it off Friday night with a quiet evening in, with a nice bottle of wine and the movie White Christmas.
Christmas Observed 001

And I had takeout from the Walnut Grille:
Christmas 2 002This was the Nutty Tofu and it was SO GOOD.  The texture of the tofu was absolutely spot-on and the contrast with the nutty crust just made it so much fun to eat.  I really, really enjoyed this.

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that on Saturday morning I treated myself to a very indulgent holiday-themed breakfast!
Christmas Observed 002

Later in the day we finished up some holiday decorating:
Christmas Observed 003
Yup, we’re those people.

I also got a start on the treats we’re going to be giving to our neighbors:
Christmas Observed 004
Chocolate-covered pretzel rods with toasted coconut sprinkled over them.  I’m going to do some with crushed candy canes and some with crushed pistachios too!  I’ll post a picture of the final product when it’s ready for gifting.

While Stewie kept things weird:
Christmas Observed 005I think he just really loves the expression about letting the cat out of the bag and never tires of it.

Then on Sunday, H and I celebrated Christmas with his family.  We did it early this year because not all of us will be able to be together on Wednesday.

Christmas Observed 010Wasn’t it a beautiful holiday table?

It really felt like Christmas Day!  We did breakfast and presents in the morning, then family dinner in the evening.

For appetizers, it was requested that I bring my homemade hummus and I was happy to oblige!  I even dressed this one up in festive red, green, and white (smoked paprika, za’atar, and pine nuts!).
Christmas Observed 008

My mother-in-law had also picked up these veggie pakoras with sweet and sour dipping sauce for an appetizer.  They were great!
Christmas Observed 009

Then for the main course, I enjoyed roasted portabellos, maple sweet potatoes, asparagus, and roasted carrots.
Christmas Observed 012

And after dinner, I got the gift I wanted most–a Patriots victory over the Ravens.  Sidenote: I loathe and despise the Ravens.

Our “fake” Christmas felt really real, so it’s kind of funny to think that tomorrow and Wednesday are the actual holiday.  I still need to put in a little more time in the kitchen (finishing the neighbor gifts mostly, but also I want to bake something fun [maybe cinnamon rolls??] for Christmas morning).  Overall I am ready to just unplug, relax, and enjoy the day!

How was your weekend?