AnnaMouse

Making vanilla wreaths as teacher’s gifts

I like getting my children to give gifts to teachers, etc – and I prefer them to be involved in the gifts somehow. I’m also conscious that most teachers probably get too many candles and soaps as it is.

So last year, my kids make some vanilla wreaths and balls for their teachers – the recipe below made about 30 of each which we shared between 9 paper plates and wrapped in cellophane, tied with red ribbon and given as gifts the next day.

Before you assume 9 teachers is a lot, I included one for each of my children’s class and instrument teachers, plus the lollypop lady, school librarian and the school cleaner (an under appreciated man!)

Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

250g butter, softened

145g smart sugar (or 290g castor sugar)*

2 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1 teaspoon baking powder

600g plain flour

PLUS

About 320g smart icing sugar *

6 – 8 tablespoons fresh orange juice (the bottled stuff is too sweet for my liking)

15 mint leaves (the lolly variety!)

About 90 red smarties or equivalent lolly (useful if you’re used to eating the red ones last! Sorry, old ad jingles stick in my head!)

Packet of 100s and 1000s or mini lollies of some sort

Method

Cream butter and sugar

Add eggs and vanilla; combine well

Add flour and baking powder; mix into a dough

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick – it’s a bit sticky so I use sheets of baking paper on either side. I also do it in batches as there’s a lot of dough!

Cut out large circles – circle biscuit cutter or a mug will do the trick

Cut a smaller circle out of each biscuit – use a smaller circle cutter or a glass

Put the rings (wreaths) and circles (Christmas balls) ont greased or lined biscuit trays

Put full trays into the fridge while you continue rolling and cutting and all dough is used up (rework the scraps back in each time)

Place trays in pre-heated 180° oven for 8 – 10 minutes – biscuits should be a lightly golden-brown on the top

Cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the trays onto a wire rack

When completely cool, decorate as wreaths or Christmas balls.

Vanilla Wreaths

Slice the mint leaves through the middle (so they become thinner but have the same shape as they started with)

Mix the icing sugar and orange juice in batches

Ice the top of the wreaths – I let it drip down the sides but you could ice the sides properly if you wanted to

Stick two leaf halves onto the biscuit to form the holly leaves

Dab some left over icing onto 3 smarties and stick them onto the leaves as holly berries – repeat for the other biscuits!

Christmas balls

Mix the icing sugar with some orange juice and a drop or red or green food colouring. If you have time, it’s really nice to use two colours, but one or none will work fine!

Spread icing onto the smaller circle biscuits – making some half red and half green is fun

Sprinkle 100s and 1000s over the top

 

 

* I tend to use smart sugar for everything now – you need half as much so the food is lower GI and it’s made from Australian cane sugar. If you can’t get it, castor sugar or normal icing sugar works just as well.

Making a child happy!

We have some good friends who have a 2 year old son. His was the first Christmas present we bought this year – we saw it months ago and grabbed it on the spot for him.

On the weekend, we saw our friends and gave their son his gift. It was a little barn (made out of fabric like a small tent) with 8 soft animals (4 pairs of mother and baby). He wasn’t overly excited when it opened and I set up the barn for him, but he then played with his animals happily.

We all left together to go to carols by candlelight – and the barn came with us. One determined two year would not let go of his barn in the car or walking from the car to the park where we had carols, and likewise to go back to the car! He did put it down to run around the park and eat a doughnut, but we got the message that he loved his new barn and animals.

That is the sort of reaction we love when giving a present!

Tiny Christmas puddings

I saw those individual puddings a number of times – they look so impressive and taste yum too.

I didn’t have time to find a cake recipe and cook it up so I found a different way to make them 🙂

So, buy a lovely moist fruit cake.

Cut it into small pieces (like about 2cm by 2cm) – make them round if you have a circle cutter. If you have a little more time, roll the pieces between your fingers to make little balls of cake.

Mix some yoghurt with icing sugar. Dob some of this mix on top of each cake piece.

Chop up some glace cherries or ginger. Add a piece or three on top of each pudding.

Let it set then serve for Santa, unexpected guests or even wrap as Christmas gifts. And you can still call them home made 🙂

Hand made decorations

When I was a kid, we would make a decoration every year for my grandparents. Grandma proudly displayed them every year until she moved to a nursing home.

After she died, we were cleaning out her things and found a box where she had kept all our decorations! Each of us had a shoebox with our name on it that had all the decorations we had made, each in a bag with the year we made them.

These decorations are on my tree and my kids are now enjoying them.

Photos with Santa

Every year I have my kids photos taken with Santa. I buy a nice frame and put them on display when I put up my Christmas decorations. It’s nice to look at them every December and reflect on how much my kids have grown and changed. I only leave the current photo on display for the whole year.

Share your Christmas story
Instagram