Family Features Holiday shopping and entertaining don't have to be all about stress and overindulging. Start by getting organized! This year, make a point to create a file of gift recipients. From teachers, mailmen and hairdressers to neighbors, family and friends, file each recipient into a category and add what gift they received this year. Next year, it will facilitate the gift-buying and gift-giving process and offer gift ideas you may have forgotten.
Shop from friends or make it yourself. Buy gifts from friends and family who have small businesses. If you have a cousin who makes jewelry or a friend who does monogram soap, order a variety of gifts from them. You'll feel good about giving them the business and you'll treat your friends and family to a unique gift. Another option is to make gifts yourself. Not only does it show your thoughtfulness, but it highlights your creativity. Try making a gift basket with healthy items such as a set of dumbbells, jump rope, and a workout outfit and DVD.
Selecting Secret Santa gifts. If you're asked to be a Secret Santa to someone this year, give a gift that most everyone enjoys - coffee and chocolates. Buy a creative mug that speaks to the person's taste, a gift card to a local coffee shop and some deliciously chocolate candies. To make it even more special, prepare pretzel rods dipped in chocolate along with caramel-pecan cranberries. Place them in a mug, tie it with a festive bow and attach a recipe card.
Packaging is everything. For a great hostess gift, take two martini glasses, a punch bowl or tray and fill with chocolate candies. Wrap them in cellophane and a bright bow. Attach a tag with a personal favorite recipe and you're all set.
Chocolate Caramel Fondue With Fresh FruitPrep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 3/4 cup fondue
2 (3-ounce) packages Caramel Medallions
1/4 cup fat-free milk
2 1/2 cups mixed sliced fruit (strawberries, banana, apple)
Fill medium pot halfway with water. Cover pot with metal bowl that fits snugly over pot, ensuring that bowl's bottom is not submerged in water. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat.
Add caramels and milk to bowl, stirring to ensure even melting. When caramels are halfway melted, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring. When milk is fully incorporated and caramels are melted, fondue is done. Serve fondue with 1/2 cup sliced fruit per person.
Good idea: You can also dip strawberries or dried apricots into fondue and chill in the refrigerator to make delicious caramel-covered fruits.