December 1, 2014

Pretty Little Gifts #DIY

This is a sponsored post. I was given products from Simply Bridal in exchange for writing, but all opinions are my own.
It can be hard to find a way to give a special, personal gift to everyone in your life. I've never been a big fan of gift cards, but there are so many people I want to show appreciation or affection for at this time of year, it can feel like options are seriously limited.

For example, the four women who teach my children during the day. I adore them, but I certainly can't stretch my holiday budget enough to get them something really nice.

Or my neighbors. They're wonderful people, but I'm not rushing off to get them all the newest releases on Blu-Ray.

No, the best option is often to make something. Something small, but personal and friendly and lovely. But who has time? With three little kids around, I hardly have time to shower, let alone put together the lovely tins of cookies I once baked.

It might sound a little strange, but a bridal shop is a PERFECT place to pick up the tools to make ridiculously gorgeous (and easy) gifts!

To show you what I mean, Simply Bridal sells a box of a dozen mini milk jars for only $15. That works out to $1.25 per jar.

Add to that a few bags of m&ms, and a bit of ribbon- and POOF! A beautiful little holiday gift!

I like using a gold cloth ribbon with wired sides. The wires keep your bows looking fresh, and the allow you to crimp the tails with your fingers. And the gold compliments all the color schemes of Channukah, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.

The result is something that shows you care enough to put some work into it, although not so difficult to add stress to your busy holiday schedule.

Best part of m&ms- the regular, every-day colors come in Channukah (blue and yellow), Christmas (red and green), and Thanksgiving (brown and orange). It's like somebody knows me.

If you want to get fancy with your candies, you can slide a piece of card stock into the middle of the jar, to put the colors side by side rather than on top of each other. Plus, if you switch the sides of your colors halfway up, you get a lovely checker pattern!

You can use almost any small candies, of course. For a Christmas themed gift, peppermints are an excellent choice. And if you happen to know the favorite candy of the person you plan to give a jar to, it's always best to show you actually know and care about them with their favorites. If I was sticking one of these jars in my husband's stocking, for example, I'd be sure to fill it with mini peanut butter cups.
But if candies aren't your style, don't fret. What I really love to do with these jars is make single serving hot cocoas.

These are so easy. They are so unfathomably easy. And people love them.

The simple hot cocoa jar is a serving of hot cocoa powder, with mini marshmallows topping it off. This is great especially for people you might want to gift who you know spend a lot of time in the cold. Your mail woman, the garbage men, your dog walker, the lady at the crosswalk by the school. For less than two dollars a gift, it's cheaper and more personal than a card. And when they head home and out of the bitter cold, they will be truly grateful for the thoughtfulness.

But what if you're on a really tight budget? What if you only have a few dollars to spend on almost EVERYONE on your list? Times are tough, and I know the poor economy has hit just about all of us. And along with the tighter budgets, more and more of the people I know are living with dietary restrictions that would make giving them any of the above jars insensitive.

If you're in a situation like that, this is the solution you've been looking for. Gourmet, food-restriction friendly, reusable cocoa jars. Beautiful reusable jars of spectacular hot cocoa.

You can personalize your flavors with crushed peppermints or ginger hard candies or instant coffee. You can be certain to avoid dairy, gluten, or even sugar. When you invest a little bit in the ingredients, you can divvy the costs into your dozen of presents, and give a truly thoughtful gift to somebody for half the cost of a fancy Starbuck's flavored frappaccino.

And when they see the jar? My favorite moment of the holidays is when somebody sees their gift for the first time, and you know you've nailed it, and made their day and their winter a brighter, happier place.

Two teaspoons of powdered sugar. Five teaspoons of cocoa powder. Half a teaspoon of powdered vanilla extract. One and a half teaspoons of cinnamon sugar. Fill the jar the rest of the way with vegan marshmallows (I like Dandies, but there are other options!), and stick a cinnamon stick through the bow.

Thirty dollars for all your ingredients and jars, and that's gifts for absolutely everyone in your office.

Simply Bridal has a wonderful selection of other jar options for similar prices. For another $5, your jars can come with chalkboard labels (and you know how much I love those chalkboard labels).

And the best part?

This is THE TIME OF YEAR to buy supplies from a bridal shop. Wedding season is over, and that means you can get much better deals on things like wedding favors.

Head to Simply Bridal and check out their selection of bridal favor options, and keep in mind how grateful people are when they can repurpose a present. A little jar, even empty, is useful. And a little jar filled beautifully with something sweet or meaningful?

That's a present nearly anyone would be happy to receive.

Get thee hence to Simply Bridal! Buy some beautiful jars and spend an easy hour making gifts for everyone! Save yourself some hassle, and make people think you're Martha Stewart.

That can be your gift to yourself. And to your bank account.

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