Ten Holiday Helps from the PBW Archives
1. Easy Appetizer: One no-cook appetizer that appeals to everyone, even kids, is sometimes tough to manage; the most popular at any gathering we have are my fruit and cheese skewers. Make them by placing chunks of cheese and fruit on bamboo or plastic skewers (cheddar, grapes and pineapple chunks are a popular combo, as are strawberries, raspberries and swiss.) You can shape the cheese by using small cookie cutters to cut them from a block. A dessert spin on this is to replace the cheese with marshmallows or brownie bites. Here's a recipe with an accompanying dip.
2. Cookies Done Light: In past years I've linked many times to Cooking Light magazine's holiday recipes; here's their Christmas Cookie recipes for 2017.
3. PBW's Famous No-Brainer Fudge:
3 cups Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 can 14 oz. sweet condensed milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
dash of salt
[optional add-ins: chopped nuts, mini marshmallows, raisins, M&Ms etc.]
Put morsels, milk, extract and salt in a sauce pan and melt over low heat. Stir frequently to blend. When it looks like fudge -- after about 5 to 10 minutes -- remove from heat, stir in your favorite chopped nuts, marshmallows, M&Ms or whatever. Pour into pan (I use an 8" pie pan), spread out, cover with foil or plastic wrap and put in refrigerator. Chill for two hours, take out, cut into squares, enjoy.
Note on fancy toppings: Before you put in the fridge, you can also top the fudge with coconut, maraschino cherries, pecan halves etc.
4. Photo Op: Another great (and easy to make) last-minute gift is to print out your favorite photo of your recipient (or someone they love) and place it in a pretty frame.
5. Practical Party: Invite friends to bring over their unwrapped gifts and wrapping supplies, and have a gift-wrapping party (Moms, great to do while the kids are in school.) Make up goodie bags with scotch tape, adhesive gift tags and rolls of ribbon. Ask everyone to bring two jumbo rolls of gift paper; one to use and one to pass around. Serve coffee, tea, and a non-sticky treat like cookies or muffins.
6. Quilted Coaster Tags: Here are directions and photos to make my easy quilted coaster, which doubles as a gift tag.
7. Strawberry Santas: One of my neighbors made us a plate of cookies and these adorable Strawberry Santas, which are so easy to make I can whip up a plate of them in minutes (and if I don't have the ingredients to make the cheese filling, I substitute bottled whipped cream.)
8. Superquick ice cream sandwiches: Let your ice cream or frozen yogurt soften until it's spreadable, then spread between two graham crackers, two big chocolate chip cookies or two toasted mini-waffles. Roll the sides through mini chocolate chips or mini M&Ms. Put back in the freezer on a tray to harden.
9. A Timely Gift: If you can't afford a gift, offer your services instead. You can clean house or mow the lawn for an elderly person, babysit for busy parents, be a beta reader for a writer pal, take your friend's pup to the dog park, etc. For a really good friend, make up a stack of 12 coupons redeemable for various services over the next year.
10. Yum: My Favorite homemade Hot Chocolate recipe