Create: Sugar Spun Gifts

We’ve been baking, roasting and stirring at our house in a mad dash to get treats off to friends and family. The common ingredient among the cookies, nuts and body scrubs I made is sugar. So if you need some sweet, last minute gifts here are three easy ideas.

Soren made his very first batch of Christmas cookies this year by following my new favorite holiday recipe for Chocolate Thumbprints. We started with a double batch of dough–half which was used to form the chocolate thumbprints (tip: baby spoons make the perfect dent), and the other half we rolled out to make shortbread shapes with our mini cookie cutters. A classic sugar cookie dough would have been better for shaping and sprinkle adherence, but as a last minute baker with a two-year-old pastry chef I only had time (and the patience) to follow one recipe.  The buttery mixture mimicked play-dough, so Soren had fun re-rolling and manipulating it. And chocolate thumbprint or not, they were still incredibly delicious.


A big hit from last year was the spiced nut recipe which Adam Miller shared on GHG. I roasted a batch of his family’s savory/sweet traditional gift and packed them up in decorative cones I found at Ikea. You can’t go wrong with these any time of the year.


I also made a sugary body scrub concoction based on an easy tutorial from Prudent Baby. The lavender and grapefruit essential oils I picked up seemed a bit weak, so I just kept adding aromatic drops to the jars. I’ll have to await feedback on this one to find out if I went overboard on the fragrance.

Gift: Make it Personal

Table display at Shutterfly Home for the Holidays event. Photos by Trey Hill.

Growing up I wore many a sweater embroidered with my initials, as a result the latent preppy in me is still drawn to monograms. A soft baby blanket with the initials of a brand new little one. Lovely stationery all your own. And jewelry, like the timeless art-deco charm my parents gave me in high school or this silhouette charm that I currently covet  from Love&Victory. My mom ordered monogrammed shortalls for my son and nephew for Christmas, and I can’t wait to dress the boys up in their matching outfits just like my sisters and I were dressed. It appears that I’ve become sentimental (or just plain regressed) as a parent.

So I was intrigued when invited to a Shutterfly event in New York about personalizing spaces for the holidays. In a light-filled loft they staged a whole home experience from nursery to kitchen with a range of ways to incorporate photos, cards and photos displays into every room.

My thought is that photos and personalized items should be sprinkled about with restraint, so choose a few meaningful photos or personalized things for your home. There’s no need to be plastering initials on everything to mark it as if it were going off to camp. As with most things, a little goes a long way.  So, with that in mind following are a few thoughtful customized gift-giving ideas sparked by the event.

Another surprising thing happened when I became a parent: the urge to start an ornament collection for Soren like I had growing up. Who knew? My tree tells the story of hobbies, family vacations, favorite characters (I have two Annie ornaments) and yes, there are engraved and hand-painted ornaments with my name too. I’m a nostalgist when it comes to these things, which is why I think this classic ceramic photo ornament would make the perfect gift for grandparents or as a keepsake for your child.

Another more useful idea for those who still put pen to paper, is stationery or a notepad. Having it personalized is an extra thoughtful touch. I really liked this idea of custom cards doubling as elegant place cards and a sweet gift too. And it’s something that could work for so many occasions from showers to a milestone birthday party. In this instance, it’s ok to make it personal.