Festive treats and parties on a budget

Need a few gift ideas for the impending festive season? Chef Caro can help!

03 Nov 2011

The silly season has hit us right between the eyeballs and the world it speeding up to crazy.

I love the fact that the hols are within reach and I can’t wait to go overboard with my boys this year. I recently decided to suck the marrow out of life (a bit more) and so I’m going to go bonkers with Christmas and all things festive.

This is all going to cost a bit isn’t it? And there’s no money is there? …. Nope.

SO, in the spirit of festivity and happiness, I have put together a list of great gifts and party ideas that are cost-effective,  simple and pretty darn gorgeous.

Homemade foodie gifts:

Gingerbread men – they’re super easy to make and delight young and old. Wrap them in cellophane bags with some colourful sweets and a bright festive ribbon.

Chocolate – make truffles or brownies and place them in little boxes with colourful paper, truly indulgent gifts.

Jams – this onion, chilli and ginger jam is seriously delicious and is great with cheese and meat platters. Buy a gold marker, write a note on the bottle and tie with a gold ribbon – beautiful.

Party ideas:

Have an outdoor party – everyone brings a platter of goodies and a bottle. Throw some sand into brown paper bags and place a cheap long candle into it, you’ve got instant lanterns. Lay out some cushions and a couple of throws and you’ve got an awesome instant evening picnic party.

Mexican theme – this always goes down well and is really festive and fun. Get people to dress up (bright colours and big hats) and you can make huge jugs of Mojitos, which is a refreshing and tasty budget cocktail as rum is very cheap.

Mexican-style food is also very easy on the pocket, try these great cheesy bean and sweetcorn nachos and these tasty Mexican sausages that you could pop in a wrap. This caramelised pinapple and chilli dessert is also fantastic, serve it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream in a sugar cone. Hey, you don’t even need to dirty any plates, it’s hand-held all the way.

Pizza parties – this is a great one for a long lazy lunch party with kids. Make homemade bases (much cheaper and very simple to make) and get each family to bring a different topping (check out our top 10 pizza toppings for inspiration). The pizzas get made over time and the kids have a ball with their own creations.

Here's to a corker of a festive season!

- Caro de Waal



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