Archive for December, 2009

…and Enjoy the Spirit of Giving.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

For many of us, myself absolutely included, being able to give to our loved ones is a large part of living a Champagne Life. And giving on a Beer Budget is easier than you might think.

First, remember the bath products from the launch of this blog? These are as inexpensive to make for your friends as they are to make for yourself. And why not refresh your own supply while you’re mixing?

Another option is to go old school and bake. Cookies, fudge, candies…there are so many recipes out there and available, many of them easy enough that kids of any age can even help. One of my favorites is my mother’s spiced tea recipe, which doesn’t require any more skill than being able to mix powders. Hello? It doesn’t get any easier than that! If you’re really pushed for time, instead of stressing, give dry mixes. Layer the ingredients for cookies, brownies, even soups. Just don’t forget to attach the recipe.

Still too expensive? Find three other friends who are interested in living a Champagne Life on a Beer Budget. Each of you buy the ingredients for one or two goodies, get together and bake, mix and layer. Somebody can even splurge on a bottle of wine and make an evening of it, if you want. Once everything has cooled or set, swap out. A dozen chocolate chip cookies is only so interesting. A tray of four different sweets will make anyone happy. And your gift recipients never need know you didn’t make them all!

Now you’ve got your bath stuff and goodies for your friends (with extra for yourself, of course). The right packaging take a bunch of scented salt and makes it an elegant, Champagne Life present. While plastic tubs are perfectly acceptable, a special tin turns a treat into a gift. Dollar stores, craft stores, even drugstores, have trays and containers and tins galore, in just about every shape and size. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Christmas Tree Shop, you’re near a goldmine.

Clear or ceramic canisters are perfect for dry mixes. Add a label with baking or soaking instructions and sick a bow on it. If you’d be more comfortable, put the mix in a plastic baggie and put the baggie in the canister.  Tins and trays are made for baked goods. A favorite of mine is a large, pre-decorated gift box. I’ve fit two dozen cupcakes in one of those before.

For a surprisingly beautiful look, fill a small, pretty glass bowl with spiced tea or caramelized nuts. Cover the top with plastic wrap and tie it on with a gold ribbon. Both finished recipes have a golden hue to them anyway. When enhanced by the glass and the ribbon, the whole thing nearly sparkles.

Gift giving doesn’t have to break you. It doesn’t have to stress you. It can ~ and should ~ be a part of every Champagne Life. Please accept my mother’s spiced tea recipe as my gift to you, whatever you are celebrating this season. As always, be smart about it and don’t drink it if you’re allergic. Leave a comment or drop me an email, and I’ll send you the caramelized nuts recipe, too! Because yummy treats for yourself and for giving? That’s a Champagne Life on a Beer Budget!

Enjoy ~

~ Pauline

Susan’s Spiced Tea

  • 2 cups Tang
  • 2 scoops instant lemonade
  • 1 cup instant, unsweetened tea (caffeinated or decaf, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add three heaping teaspoons to a mug. Fill mug with boiling water and stir (with cinnamon stick for an added kick).