Gift thy neighbor this holiday season

It’s the season to spread the love. Whether you live on a block or in an apartment building, sharing a little holiday spirit to your neighbors will bring smiles to their faces. Plus, the next time you need to borrow an egg, you’ll be happy you gave them something. Here are a few ideas of small gifts or treats to deliver to their front doors.

Candied nuts

Placed in a small, cute tin, these delightful and delicious candied peanuts and walnuts are a sweet way to show some love. They also could not be easier to make in less than 10 minutes. 

Chocolate covered peanuts: Melt one bag of semisweet chocolate chips and one bag of butterscotch chips together in the microwave. Melt in 30-45 second intervals, being careful not to burn. Mix the peanuts into the melted mixture and scoop small clumps onto a wax-lined cookie sheet. Place in freezer to harden.

Sugared walnuts: In a large saucepan, combine one cup sugar, five tbsp water, one tsp salt, one tsp cinnamon and one tsp vanilla extract. Bring to a boil. Then stir in two pounds of walnuts until completely coated. Spread small clumps of walnuts on wax-lined cookie sheet to cool.

Holiday potpourri

Who doesn’t want their home to smell amazing during the holidays? Make your own jar or bag filled with potpourri ingredients and include easy instructions for your neighbor to quickly get their home smelling like heaven. In a gift bag or mason jar, put ½ cup fresh cranberries, one small orange, four cinnamon sticks, one tablespoon cloves and ⅛ tsp nutmeg. The cloves and nutmeg can be put into a small baggie to keep them together. Include these instructions for your neighbors on a cute card attached to the ingredients: “Slice the orange and then bring three cups of water along with the contents of the jar or bag to a simmer over low heat. Refill with water as needed.”

Cranberry-orange soap

Hand soap is something every household can use, especially around the holidays. With a few simple ingredients, you’ll have soap bars for the whole block. Slice about a pound of shea butter soap base into chunks in a microwave-safe Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted. Add 10-15 drops of cranberry fragrance oil and/or cranberry essential oil. Pour the soap mixture into silicone molds of any shape and make sure to leave room at the top for the orange layer. Wait 30 minutes for soap to set. With another batch of melted soap base, add 8-10 drops of orange essential oil or fragrance oil, and then pour orange layer on top of the hardened cranberry layer. If you want to add color to your soap, you can use soap colorant or mica powder colorant during the mixing phase. The soap should be hard within two hours. Wrap with a pretty ribbon and deliver door-to-door.

Seasonal succulent garden

House plants can bring a little life to a home during the dreary winter months. Places like Home Depot or garden stores carry affordable succulent plants year-round. Buy a few succulents in a plain pot, then let your kids get out the acrylic paints and paintbrushes to decorate the pot.  Once dried, give the plants a little water, tie a ribbon around the pot and deliver to your favorite neighbors.

Homemade hot cocoa

A small mason jar filled with contents to make your own quick hot cocoa is a treat will make any neighbor giddy and warm. In a small bowl, combine two cups unsweetened cocoa powder, ¾ cup sugar and eight ounces chopped semisweet chocolate. Transfer and fill the cocoa mix into an airtight mason jar or container. Make a tag or note with the following instructions: “In a small saucepan, whisk ¼ cup cocoa mix with ¾ cup milk. Bring to a low simmer. Serves one.” Tie a ribbon around the jar and if you can, loop through a measuring scoop attached to the jar.

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