Monday, December 12, 2011

Hard-Candy Christmas Craft 'n Ball Swap!

Well it's December and you Spring graduates know what that means! -Your student loan grace period is up and you also have to buy your ungrateful friends and family presents! If you're anything like me, the collision between certain financial disaster and the holiday gift-giving season is enough to make you want to put a gun in your mouth..but ease up there George Bailey, let me show you what it would be like if you had never been born, er I guess iPhones don't have that app yet, which reminds me of the most important gift of Christmas...iPhones. All this putting on of the poor-mouth got me thinking about the various inexpensive ways you can deck your halls and participate in obligatory gift exchanges without feeling like a bum. This Christmas themed edition of Little Dinner Party will focus on crafting giftable ornaments and shareable confectionary balls. Let's pop the cork on our shame wine, crank up the holiday music and maybe we'll even make a prank call to Delilah, 'cause even the 99% is entitled to a Merry Christmas!

Snowball Santa Head Ornaments

Nearly 50 years ago, my dead Grandma and her sister made about a million of these little Santa head ornaments. Everyone on my mom's side of the family has a few of these on their trees, most of which are yellowing with age and crinkled from years of use and pet damage. Last year I was too poor for a Christmas tree but my mom let me help myself to her ornaments anyway.  I specifically searched for one of her two remaining Santas left in good shape. As a gift to my family, who's shabby Santas may not see many more Christmases, I attempted to recreate these. In a tribute to Grandma Jo's memory we drank and smoked heavily during the crafting process, she would have wanted it that way.

You Will Need the Following:
Baseball-sized foam balls, glitter, white glue, cotton balls, red and black construction paper. 

Step 1: Paint your balls with a light coating of white glue. Sprinkle with a light dusting of silver glitter. 

Step 2: Using a mug or bowl, trace a circle onto your red construction paper. After cutting out your circles, trace a line to the exact midpoint of the circle. (How to get this midpoint? Don't ask me I went to art school.) Fold the two corners together to form a cone. 

Step 3: Adhere the cone to the top of your balls by gluing around the inside of the cone's base. 

Step 4: Cut fingernail sized semicircles out of your black construction paper. These will be the eyes. Place on your Santa as you wish. Now take your cotton balls and sculpt them into the beard, whiskers and hat trimming. Place to your liking. 

Results varied. I'm not exactly sure what my grandma used for noses on hers. We improvised with red glitter. Voila! 

Rice Crispy Balls

Okay, I won't really try to take credit for the rice crispy treat recipe, the same recipe that appears on even the lowest of generic marshmallows and cereal boxes. What I offer to the internet is my mom's twist on this classic that I've never seen anywhere else. This was a staple around our house from December 'til early January. I once asked my mom why we made these instead of the ever-ordinary rice crispy square. I expected Les to come up with a clever answer, but instead she told me it was just easier than cleaning out the marshmallowy pyrex pan. Practical right? In any case, everyone who has ever tried these has loved them, even people who claim to dislike rice crispy treats. They're also a blast to make! 

You Will Need the Following: 
6 cups rice crispy cereal, one bag of marshmallows, a stick of butter, holiday colored sugars and a 1/4 t-spoon vanilla. 

Step 1: Make rice crispy treats as per recipe on the box. (My secret is to put vanilla in the melted butter.)

Step 2: Once treat mix is finished, lube up your hands with butter as if it's soap. This is oddly satisfying.

Step 3: Allow mixture to cool for a few minutes and then begin lightly forming balls sized of your choice. Do not try to press the balls together, this will cause them to fall apart. Roll your balls in holiday sugars and set aside. 

Delicious. My sister and I have been known to eat an entire batch in one night, but don't worry, if you let them sit they only get better with age. 

Holly Jolly Jigsaw Wreaths
This idea I stole from one of the many Christmas trees I've been invited to hold hands and sing around this holiday season. I saw it, thought it was cute, decided it needed some improvements and to you I present my better version. Unfortunately I didn't buy enough puzzle pieces, so I ended up sitting this one out while my guests crafted. When hosting a craft party, it's important that your guests don't leave empty handed. This being said, always make sure to send them home with enough treats to share with a roomie.

You Will Need the Following: 
Puzzle pieces, green paint, glue, cardboard, an x-acto blade and ribbon. 

Step 1: Paint the backs of puzzle pieces with green paint. 

Step 2: Using a bowl and teacup, trace a ring onto your cardboard. Cut out with x-acto blade. This does not need to be perfect as it will be covered up with puzzle pieces. 

Step 3: Arrange puzzle pieces onto ring and adhere with glue, covering cardboard completely. Garnish with ribbon. 

Isn't that elegant? Hang them on the tree or your front door, assuming you have a front door. 


No cutesy name necessary for these little gems. When I told my boss I was making truffles for my craft n' ball party, she was impressed by how difficult it would be. This recipe is so easy that it's almost too good to be true, almost. I got the idea for these from an old friend of mine who's family tradition is making truffles. My own spin was to make them even more Christmas-y by rolling them in crushed candy cane. These were as cheap as they were easy, like any good date should be.

You Will Need the Following: 
12 oz bittersweet chocolate (this is all about the chocolate, don't cheap out), 1/3 c heavy cream, 1 t-spoon vanilla, small baking cups, and three crushed candy canes. 

Step 1: Break up chocolate into tiny pieces and melt in a double boiler with cream. Once melted and mixed completely, add vanilla and stir. Refrigerate for two hours or until chocolate is moldable and not runny. 

Step 2: While chocolate is setting up, unwrap candy canes and put them in a ziplock baggie. Smash with a hammer until candy canes are a nice chunky powder. 

Step 3: Once chocolate is desired consistency, begin forming into dime-sized balls with a spoon and roll in toppings. Put finished balls in festive baking cups. 

Step 4: When out of chocolate and toppings, place finished balls back in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Now your balls are ready to eat! We got creative and used shredded coconut on some and a little sea salt on a few others. More fun ideas can include but are not limited to: cayenne pepper, confectioner's sugar or simply cocoa powder. For best results, allow truffles to come to room temperature before serving.

I hope this installment of Little Dinner Party has made your heart grow three sizes! Christmas isn't about how many gifts are under your tree, just how much you spent on them and that includes time and thought, but mostly money. For anyone who gripes about the "commercialism" of American Christmas, refer them to this blog, as it specializes in bringing the gourmet to the poor-met. Coincidentally, I was not sponsored by Arthur Christmas, it's just my poverty that encourages me to take anything free from strangers on the street, which explains the t-shirt, elf hat and secretly the red ribbon too! That about does it for me, I'm going to go finish my gallon of holiday wine and write my cat's name in glitter on a stocking. Happy holidays fellow crafters!


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