Sunday, December 16, 2018

RAMBLINGS & RECIPES - What to Give the Teens for Christmas

Do you struggle with ideas on what to give the teenage kids or grandkids on your Christmas shopping list? An ugly handmade sweater? Pajama's that totally embarrass them? 

Money is generally what they want and money is always a last resort, but that is such a boring gift. 

Over the years, I have come up with some innovative ways of making that money gift rather special. And I love seeing the smiles on my grandkid's faces as they wonder what grandma has come up with each year. 

Here are just a few of the ideas I've used over the years...

Something for a Rainy Day - Take $1 bills and tape them to the underside of an umbrella so that they dangle down. Use as many as you wish. I think I used around 25. Watch their surprise as they open the umbrella and see all the money!

Open a Can of Worms - Buy some cans of soup with the pop top lid but use one of those can openers that open the can under the ridge. Wash out the can thoroughly and put the money in a small plastic bag (you can find these in craft stores) and place it in the bottom of the can. Then fill the can with gummy worms and replace the lid using a bit of super glue. It will look like an unopened can of soup. When they pop the lid they will find the gummy worms and the money surprise in the bottom.

Go Nutty - One year I purchased several bowls of walnuts with nutcrackers. Each evening before Christmas as I sat to watch a Hallmark movie (you know you do the same thing at this time of year), I would take a knife and carefully pry open each walnut, scoop out the nut, insert a folded dollar bill and reseal the walnut using super glue. When the kids opened their gift and cracked open a walnut, they got a bigger surprise!

Cupcakes with an even Sweeter Surprise - They truly enjoyed this one! I baked five or six cupcakes for each child. Before frosting them, I cut a hole in the center and inserted cash which had been put inside one of those little plastic bags I mentioned previously. Then I re-inserted the cutout cake piece and piled frosting on top. Each cupcake in each grandkid's box had a different amount inserted. $1, $5, or $10.

Get Them to Wash their Hands - I felt especially crafty one year and purchased supplies to make my own bars of soap. In the middle of each bar I inserted a rolled up dollar bill (whatever denomination you prefer). The rule was that they could not cut into it. They must wash their hands until the soap diminishes enough to get the money.

Fun Way to Have a Ball - Last year I noticed that Glad Wrap had a sale on rolls of their Christmas colored plastic wrap, so I purchased several rolls. I started out with a cute little tiny box where I had inserted some cash. I wrapped that in the plastic wrap... but I kept wrapping. I wrapped around and around, over and over again, occasionally inserting a piece of candy or small toy. By the time I finished, I had this huge ball that the kids had to peel off piece by piece.

That's all I can remember right now, but if you have any ideas of other creative ways to give cash, comment below or email me. I'm always looking for more ways to torture my grandkids!

Merry Christmas!


As children, this was always a treat for us. It was not only fun pulling the taffy, but great to eat!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons butter plus extra for coating hands

Combine sugar, water, vinegar and butter in a heavy, nonreactive pan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise heat and cook quickly, about 20 minutes, without  stirring until a teaspoon of the mixture dropped into a glass of cold water forms a ball and gets hard. (Grandma didn't own a candy thermometer) Watch the boil carefully so the taffy does not burn.  Turn off heat and add the vanilla extract.

Pour the taffy into a generously buttered platter or cookie sheet with low sides. When it is cool enough to handle, let the kids grease their clean hands with butter, take a lump of taffy, and pull and stretch it until it is light and slightly firm.  The longer they stretch, pull, and twish the candy, the more air it will have and the closer to beach taffy it will get. The lump can then be cut with scissors into bite-size pieces.  When completely cool, wrap each piece in waxed paper. Makes 45 1-inch candies.


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