Christmas-time can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, and a big reason for this is simply the huge volume of “stuff” that comes along with it. Tacky decorations, piles of discarded wrapping paper, packaging galore, un-wanted gifts... While we love this time of year, we do find that Christmas always come with lots of stuff that we don't necessarily want or need – Kiwis spend over $6 billion on gifts at this time of year, and lots of it end up on the landfill. This got us inspired us to research some ways to aim for a clutter-free and minimalist Christmas, so we've bought together some of our favourite ideas here to share with you too...
Clutter-Free Gift Ideas
Here are some of what we think are the best clutter-free or minimalist gift ideas for this time of year. These gifts are also great for that "person who has everything". Best of all, lots of these gifts can be ordered last-minute this week.
Low-waste and clutter-free holiday season ideas
Make sure you choose recyclable wrapping paper (you can't recycle shiny foil wrapping) – classic brown paper with twine looks really clean and modern. Or why not use fabric wrapping they can re-use, in the Japanese style called “Furoshiki” - click here for a tutorial we found online. Remember to save un-crinkled wrapping paper to use next year!
Hand-make as many gifts as you can, to avoid unnecessary packaging and waste. Check out our post on DIY gifts here for some inspiraiton.
Get a real Christmas tree – they smell and look great, plus they can be planted to be re-used next year or taken to the green-waste tip. Better than having more plastic in the house!
Make your own decorations (glitter isn't good for the environment) - paper decorations, tied bows, or baked cookies look great on a tree (check out our Gingerbread cookie post for a great recipe for this!).
Reduce leftover food waste by looking up recipe ideas to use leftovers (we found some good ideas here).
Re-gift, donate to charity, or sell un-wanted gifts. Why not have a gifting box tucked away, where you store excess presents you know you won't use, so you can re-gift them throughout the year.
Ask people for a wish-list of what they want, to avoid getting unwanted gifts.
Christmas time and school holidays are a great excuse to get baking, especially with the kids - and we think there's no more festive treat than gingerbread. We dug out our favourite classic gingerbread biscuit recipe to share with you today, for you to make yourself at home.
This is a great reliable base-recipe to have tucked away, and then you can put your own spin on it with different shapes and designs. Gingerbread is a nice simple mix, that's really fun to make at home with the kids or grandkids, and they can let their personality and creativity shine with the decoration.
Don't be afraid to get creative with your cookies - why not...
* Add holes and thread through ribbon to hang them on the Christmas tree - snowflakes are perfect for this.
* Cut out gingerbread men shapes and turn them upside down, to make super cute reindeer shapes (Google search this for a photo guide - it's very clever!).
* Use letter and number cutters to spell out family members names and ages - a great gift idea.
* Buy an embossed rolling pin to make intricate designs super easy.
* Head to Spotlight to get small gift boxes and ribbon to package your creations into beautiful gifts.
If life's a little too busy to bake at this time of year, just easily order online an Angel Delivery Sweet Treats hamper (click here) - perfect to have in ready for the holiday season and Christmas Day. Too easy!
Here's the recipe... Enjoy!
125g butter, softened
175g brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
350g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Cream together the butter and sugar until it's pale and fluffy. You can do this in a standing mixer, with a hand mixer, in a food processor or by hand (a bit of an arm workout, but a great option for baking with kids). Add the egg and golden syrup, and mix again to combine everything.
Add the flour, soda, ginger and cinnamon and give it all a final mix until it starts to come together into a dough.
Lightly flour the bench and tip out your dough. Use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball (you'll need to knead it a bit to combine, it can get a little messy so roll up those sleeves!). Put the dough ball into the fridge and chill for around half an hour.
Once chilled, lightly flour your bench again and roll out the dough with your rolling pin, aiming for an even layer around half a centimetre thick.
Cut out your shapes. We just did cute hearts but don't feel you can't get creative! You can even hand cut or shape with a knife or your hands - go freestyle! If you want your decorations to hang on your tree, this is the time to poke a small hole on top - using a skewer or a straw can work well.
Place your cookies on a lined baking tray. Leave a little room between them for growth, but these cookies don't tend to spread too much.
Bake in your oven at 180 degrees fan bake, for 12 minutes, or until the edges are starting to go golden brown.
Leave to cool fully before you decorate your cookies. Decorating can be really fun and you can get ready-to-go icing packs at the supermarket - but don't feel you have to decorate then as plain gingerbread is delicious too!
Home-made gifts can be the perfect solution for secret santa's, teacher gifts, hostess gifts, grand-parent presents, and stocking stuffers. Not only do they keep the budget down, but they can be truly personalised and show thoughtfulness and care.
We've rounded up 5 of our favourite home-made gift ideas to share with you below - just in time for you to get creative this weekend!
If getting crafty is the last thing on your "to do" list this Christmas, Angel Delivery is here to help. Our fudge slab is released for a super limited time at Christmas - this giant 1.8kg slab cuts into over 120 pieces of fudge.
At home, simply cut it up into small squares, pop between 5 - 10 pieces in a cellophane bag, and tie with a ribbon. You'll have 10 - 20 home-made gift-bags to share this Christmas - and so easy!
Buy your fudge slab now! You can even pretend you made it yourself - it can be our little secret.
1. White Choc Peppermint Blondies - If you're keen in the kitchen, these festive blondies (brownie's white chocolate cousin!) look really delicious and come with gorgeous packaging ideas.
2. Hot Chocolate Mix - This recipe makes gorgeous jars to gift, full of mix for the recipients to make perfect hot chocolates at home - complete with mini marshmallows!
3. Paint Chip Bookmarks - A fun and simple little gift idea, that we think would be perfect to try with the kids.
4. Mason Jar Sewing Kit - A really cute and thoughtful way to pop together a special gift for someone who loves to sew, or is wanting to learn.
5. Christmas Tea Trees - If you have a tea-lover in your life, these Christmas Tea Trees are a really special and fun way to present a tea-gift (and healthy too!).
*Note these are not our recipes and we haven't tested all of them, this post just intended a source of inspiration for you to try yourself at home.
With Christmas Day racing around, now is the time to start preparing your Christmas Cake! If you decide to 'feed' your cake with alcohol, you need to prepare it a good time in advance, to give you plenty of time to mature it deliciously with alcohol over the coming weeks.
We were lucky to chat with our founder Rebecca's lovely mum Sue, who has shared her very own special family Christmas Cake recipe with us - for your own baking adventures for you to make yourself at home.
No time to bake? Or you're not a baker? Our Christmas Sweet Treats hampers are perfect to stock the pantry for sweet tooths on Christmas day, or to send to family and friends if you can't be there. Click here to check them out.
Christmas Fruit Cake
227g caster sugar
450g plain flour
1.5kg mixed dried fruit
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon essence
1 tsp almond essence
1 cup milk
Pre-heat your oven to 140 degrees celsius, and prepare a medium-sized cake tin, lined with baking paper.
In a big mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour. Then add all other the dry ingredients and essences. Cover the bowl and leave that mixture to stand, ideally overnight or at least for a few hours.
Once that mix is done resting, heat the milk in a pan, until nearly boiling. Lightly beat the eggs together, then add the eggs to the nearly boiling milk in the pan and keep mixing (you're aiming to make a light custard).
Leave the egg/milk custard mix to cool fully. Once cool, mix it into the prepared ingredients, until it's all well mixed. Pour the finished mix into your cake tin.
Bake for 3 - 4 hrs at 140 degrees celsius. It'll be done when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Once done, remove the cake from the oven and leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
Feeding / Maturing Your Cake
You might decide you want to 'mature' or 'feed' your Christmas cake with your chosen alcohol in advance (this is optional). To do so, when the cake first comes out of the oven, poke holes in it on top with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol (rum, brandy or whisky). Then, once the cake is totally cool, wrap the cake well in cling-film and store it un-iced in a cool dark place. Every week until Christmas, unwrap the cake, poke holes in it on top with a skewer, and spoon over the 2 tbsp of alcohol again. Don't feed the cake during the final week before Christmas, so that the edges can dry out in time for icing.
Brandy Butter Icing
This delicious recipe from the Edmonds Cookery Book is the perfect topping for your Christmas Cake creation.
175g butter, softened
500g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Beat the butter until it's light, smooth and fluffy.
Add in the icing sugar, brandy and vanilla, then continue to beat until light and creamy.
Once the cake has fully cooled, ice the cake with the brandy butter icing. You can put store-bought almond icing underneath if you like.
Last week was World Kindness Day (13 November) - a day that focusses on good deeds, community and the positive power of kindness. Kindness is at the heart of everything we do here at Angel Delivery, so of course we had to mark the occasion!
On the day, we made what we call Kindness Cookies. These (relatively!) healthy little morsels are packed with oats, seeds and fruit (and a sneaky bit of choccie of course!).
They make the perfect gift to drop off to a friend, neighbour or family member who might need a little pick-me-up, or just a nice reason to sit down with a cup of tea and a chat. Best of all - they are super easy to make!
Here's the recipe below, so you can make some of your own Kindness Cookies at home.
No time to bake, or can't be there in person? Our High Tea hamper comes with French Macarons and Belgian Biscuits, with lots of other treats - a perfect fill-in for Kindness Cookies any time!
Makes 20-24 medium biscuits.
2 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries or goji berries
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp boiling water
1 cup choccie chips
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Put the butter and golden syrup in a bowl, and microwave until melted.
In a big mixing bowl, add: sugar, oats, coconut, flour, seeds and berries.
Stir the baking soda into the boiling water, then add that to the melted butter & golden syrup bowl.
Add the liquid into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix well.
Roll the mix into small balls and put them on the tray, leaving room for them to grow a little. Press the biscuits down with the back of a fork.
Bake for 12-15mins, until biscuits are golden.
(*Recipe adapted from Pams)