We’ve got this year’s gift giving beautifully covered, with unique, useful and delightful presents to make for the lucky people on your list. Each one is a hands-down winner.
IT’S A WRAP!
For an extra-special presentation, take plain paper, which you can buy in bulk, and make smaller pieces super-pretty with a little paint and an unexpected tag or bow.
Thin some acrylic paint with water, then splatter gold dots on the paper with a narrow brush. Or use gold acrylic paint and a brush to dab dashes or make stripes across the paper. You can even spray-paint lines across each sheet, or go over some bands again for an ombre effect.
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The best hostess gifts make life both easier and sweeter. Case in point: These homemade toppings turn a pint of vanilla ice cream into a gourmet dessert.
A touch of molasses and holiday spices lend the gingerbread caramel a freshly baked cookie flavor, especially when garnished with slivers of candied ginger. The mandarin-lime curd is aromatic and mouthwatering. Stir up a batch and pack them in airtight 7-ounce Mason or jam jars (tied with a spoon).
For a downloadable label template, go to marthastewart.com/sauce-labels.
Sources: The Container Store Le Parfait French hermetic-glass terrines, 7 ounces, $6.50 each, containerstore.com. Teak coffee-spoon set, $25 for 4, abchome.com. Studio Carta tight-weave cotton ribbon, 1/4 inch, $9 for 5 yard, shopangelaliguori.com.
FRINGED COCKTAIL NAPKINS
These no-sew hand-fringed cocktail napkins are already a fun upgrade on the paper variety.
Add a stamped monogram in the corner for extra credit, box up four and you’ve got an A+ present. To create them, cut a lightweight, loose-weave linen fabric into 10 1⁄2-inch squares, then use a pin to pull out several threads for a fringed border.
Personalize them with a rubber stamp and a fabric ink pad. For a subtle monogram, use ink in a darker shade of the napkin color.
Sources: Paper Presentation gift boxes, from $6 each, paperpresentation.com. Assorted fabrics, graylinelinen.com.
Melt hearts with a gift that’s pretty and practical: a set of powder-room soaps that mimics a box of petit fours.
Whip them up with glycerin and goat’s-milk soap-making kits, glycerin soap color, flexible silicone molds and some imagination. Dress up the pale bars with pink sea salt and the orange ones with exfoliating dry oatmeal. Once the bars are ready to be released from the forms (which takes only about an hour), stack them in cupcake wrappers and pack three sets in a clear gold-topped box worthy of the treasures inside.
Sources: Artminds clear glycerin soap-making kit, $11; goat’s-milk glycerin soap-making kit, $11; and glycerin soap color, $5, michaels.com. The Container Store clear boxes with brushed copper lids, $8 each, containerstore.com.
Remember how proud you felt handing Mom macaroni jewelry back in the day? These two-tone necklaces are made with the same amount of love but produce a more refined result — and they might be even easier to craft.
Buy two strands of stones or glass beads, a package of crimp beads and two tassels on rings. Thread the strands through a crimp bead, one tassel ring and then back through the crimp bead. Flatten with pliers to secure. Repeat on the other end with the second tassel.
For stylish wrapping, snip two slits near one side of a square of felt. Thread a suede cord through them and through the necklace, roll it up and tie it in a knot.
Sources: Assorted beads, firemountaingems.com. Tassels and suede ribbons, beadcenterny.com. Precut felt, 18 inches by 18 inches, $9.50 each, purlsoho.com.
Address questions to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. Or go to www.marthastewart.com/contact-us-form. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number.
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate
Makes about 5 cups
- 3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1. Combine molasses, 1⁄2 cup water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high, gently stirring until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil; cook until foaming reduces and bubbles begin to slow, 4 to 5 minutes (about 250 degrees on a thermometer).
2. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in cream, butter, salt and spices (mixture will splatter), stirring until butter is melted and combined. Let cool completely.
3. Transfer to six 7-ounce jars. Sauce can be refrigerated in jars up to 2 weeks; gently re-heat before serving.
Makes 6 cups
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely grated mandarin-orange zest (from 9 oranges), plus 1 1⁄2 cups fresh juice (from 13 oranges)
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest (from 2 limes), plus 3⁄4 cup fresh juice (from 5 limes)
- 18 large egg yolks
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 3/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, both zests and egg yolks; whisk in citrus juices and salt. Add butter; place pan over medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until butter has melted, mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and bubbles form around edge of pan, about 11 minutes (do not let the mixture boil).
2. Remove pan from heat immediately. Pour curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass bowl. Press plastic wrap against surface of curd; refrigerate until cool.
3. Transfer to six 7-ounce jars; curd can be refrigerated in jars up to 2 weeks.