All our Christmas celebrations are finished on this side of the Atlantic. Family dinners, work dinners, groups of friends dinners. Done. On Wednesday we are heading away to Canada for a few weeks of holidays with my side of the family. Obviously, we are all stoked to be heading to my rents house and having some quality time with family & friends (and thrift stores). In the spirit of keeping things simple (along with my growing aversion of shopping centres) we decided to try and make a couple of things in batches to give away as gifts to our family, friends & neighbours - little hampers of sorts. I had a secret pinterest board for a few months with all kinds of elaborate gifts pinned to make and brew with such great intentions (Pinterest should be renamed Unrealistic Pintentions, amiright?) but having resolved to have an un-fussy, present and attentive Christmas (which I write a little bit more on here) I picked 3 things that I knew a) we could pull off b) Levi could easily help with c) would be actually useful to our loved ones. Sure - monogrammed, sharpie-markered gifts are lovely, but it just didn't seem fool-proof enough for my faff-free resolution.
So this year we made a little selection of:
- homemade soaps
- apple & rum punch
Good old fashioned bars of soap are very much coming back around and I reckon they make a really good, gender-neutral gift for anyone. For these, I used Fritha's super-easy method. I bought a melt & pour (literally that simple) all-natural base from Stephenson Personal Care and these cheap and easy moulds. I decided to do 2 versions, adding a couple of scoops of honey & oats for one and a few drops of lavender essential oil and dried lavender for the other.
The shortbread recipe is a staple that I use year-round. I blogged about it here - it's so so easy and it's always good to have a roll in the fridge for people coming over during the holidays.
APPLE & RUM PUNCH
I can't remember where I scribbled this recipe down from but it is SO good and while it was brewing on my cooker it smelled exactly how Christmas should smell. If you don't like cinnamon, this isn't for you and you have no place in my Christmas. Harsh but fair.
- 2 litres of pressed apple juice (we bought supermarket own brand)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 5 star anise
- 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 2-inch piece of peeled ginger
- ½ cup dark rum
Add all ingredients (minus the rum) to a large pot. Boil on medium-high heat for about 20 mins - it will reduce slightly. Wait until you take it off the heat to add the rum and then let it to cool before decanting it into bottles. We had a bunch left over from Dave's last beer brew so we used those. All you have to do is add some little labels to make sure your friends know it has alcohol in it and don't serve it to their kids!
I'm off to pack my cases!