One of the first kitchen experiences many children have is helping Mom or Grandma make Kool-Aid or some other drink mix. They love to measure, pour (usually not so neatly), stir and watch as water from the tap magically changes into their favorite flavor drink. (If you still have small children and haven’t crossed into the making Kool-Aid stage, let me suggest putting the pitcher in a large pan to capture spilled sugar and water…It will save you quite a bit of clean-up time!)
Home-made drink mixes also make great gifts. Giving them to family members is an excellent way to get kids into the kitchen, and it gives them a personal input into the gifts they give each year. While dry mixes can vary from brownies to soups (I even saw one for dog biscuits!), something about drink mixes is satisfying. It invites a cup of cocoa or spiced tea on a cold winter night, or a mug of Santa’s favorite waiting for his arrival by the fireplace.
Before you begin, ask kids to help decorate mason/canning jar lids to match the intended contents. For spiced apple cider, for example, children may choose to cover the lid with an apple-print fabric, mount a small plastic apple with Gorilla glue or make an apple and worm combo out of clay. Allow them to then write the recipe on a decorated note card. Take the card to the copy shop, or scan and copy on your computer. Cover them with clear Contact paper to preserve. Don’t give away the original – you’ll want that for your own jar.
Notice that not all of the jar recipes are dry ingredients only. For gifts that need to be refrigerated, you’ll need to plan ahead. While these make super gifts for cross-country folk, refrigerated mixes should be given to in-town friends or family members.
There are so many jarred gift recipes online and in publications that finding the right ones to use won’t be a problem. To get started, check out the following:
1. Gifts from Your Kitchen
2. About.com>Busy Cooks
Once you’ve picked the recipe(s) that will be perfect for your family and friends, pull out the mixing bowls and decorated jar. Let the kids measure, mix (and don’t forget taste!), pour into jars and seal. Assist them in attaching recipe tags to each jar.
Alex and Soph love giving these as teacher’s gifts, but they’d make wonderful stocking stuffers or gifts for friends and neighbors, too. Best of all, nothing will top the pride your children feel as they hand-deliver the gift – homemade by them!
Happy Family Cooking Everyone!
Alex, Sophia and Mom