When I grew up, neighborhood Christmas gifts were the bomb diggity. My mom would work for days, preparing baskets full of carefully cooked treats: cookies and bars and cookie bars. She’d wrap them all in plastic wrap and tie them with a bow. We’d deliver them up and down the street, singing carols until our noses turned pink and our fingers blue.
So, I was sorta stunned this year when a pal mentioned that she doesn’t do neighbor gifts at all. In all 30-something years of my life, I thought not-giving neighbor gifts was eqivalent to some sort of social horcrux. The highest degree of friendship felony. The ultimate naughty no-no. It’s like the year I learned other people didn’t buy enough Girl Scout cookies to tide them over through Armageddon. My mother had always purchased enough boxes to feed a small country. How was it that not everyone else did such a clearly delightsome thing?
Coming to the realization that neighborhood gifting could fall to the wayside of my holiday to-do list was a revelation. It would free up hours!days! I was liberated. Until last Friday, when the thought of not toddling shiny gifts up and down the street began to truly dawn on my soul. Try as I might to forego the giving, I caved. Spent the weekend stirring and mixing and tying bows to little containers. After all, it’s Christmas for pete’s sake. There’s just something perfectly magical about offering unexpected treats to nice people. So, we did.
Which worked out quite nicely for our pantry. Now that we’ve given all these Christmas goodies away, there’s even more room for the annual Girl Scout cookie stash.
Happy Sugar Feasting!
It's not too late to pull together homemade gifts for neighbors and friends. This homemade vanilla sugar is so pretty, with it's little black freckles and slices of vanilla beans. Better yet, it's tremendously simple to make. I purchased four vanilla beans from Sunflower Market for less than $6, stirred them into 6 cups of organic sugar, and filled 8 of these spice jars (from World Market, $3.99 for 4 jars). Simple, affordable, and adorable. How's that for a happy holiday?!
6 cups organic sugar
4 vanilla beans
Pour sugar into a large bowl. Slice vanilla pods in half lengthwise. Scrape the caviar from the bean and stir the seeds into the sugar. Cut the beans into several long strips and place the beans into the sugar, as well. Use the back of a spoon to stir & press the beans throughout the sugar. Spoon sugar into small containers.
Print the labels below & tie them onto each container.
Share & enjoy! The sugar stores well in a cool, dry place for 1-2 months.