Christmas With College and Adult Children: 40 Presentation Ideas for Cash or Gift Cards

Christmas With College and Adult Children: 40 Presentation Ideas for Cash or Gift Cards

This fall we took a family vacation to Florida (all fourteen of us!), so we decided beforehand that due to finances and time to shop (we returned a few days before Thanksgiving), we would give our kids gift cards for Christmas rather than presents (except for our Christmas Eve Plastic Wrap Prize Ball and Grab Bags). As it turns out, my dad was very sick and in the hospital for two weeks, and I was completely tied up between him and working/writing/teaching that I didn’t have a chance to do any Christmas shopping until mid-December, so we were glad we had made that decision early on. (If you’ve read about our plastic wrap prizes and grab bags, you will know that those require some shopping and planning too!)

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Plastic Wrap Christmas: Big Kid Fun

Plastic Wrap Christmas: Big Kid Fun

Plastic wrap prizes! Several have asked how we do this activity, so here is a somewhat-clear description! (The pics are a little grainy in our living room that night!)

One thing that I highly recommend as you prepare for Christmas with teens and adults is that you try to make new memories…that you try to do things that are applicable to their ages. Yes, we definitely continue some of the earlier traditions. But we’ve also added new ones that are more age-appropriate. One of those is plastic wrap prizes.

This activity could be in lieu of stockings, Christmas Eve PJs, piñatas, etc. It is a ton of fun for teens and adults. With younger kids, there’s always a danger of some disappointment if they get Chapstick or antacids (lol!), but with teens and adults, it is all just good fun. Lots of laughs. Lots of usable items. And more family unity than you would think, LOL!

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Christmas With College and Adult Kids: Group Gifts

Christmas With College and Adult Kids: Group Gifts

One of the things that I love about our adult children having such close relationships is when they ask for group gifts (still!).

It is not uncommon for them to ask for things like these:

1. Restaurant gift cards to a place that they all want to go to together but that the college kids couldn’t afford without a gift card.

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The Easiest Homemade Food Gift I’ve Ever Made: Fudges

“The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” Johnny Carson

In earlier posts, I gave ideas and recipes for snack mixes that parents and kids can make with their kids for gifts. Today I would like to share the hands-down easiest food gift I have ever made. (Well, maybe it was so easy because Kara made all 100+ pounds of it that year!) Seriously, if you know how to make simple fudge recipes (i.e. evaporated milk, marshmallows, and marshmallow cream, etc.), you will be surprised how quickly many (dozens!) of food gifts come together in this tip.

I purchased those little six-eight inches or so across plastic holiday tubs (the real inexpensive ones without lids that are about three to five inches deep). (You can use any container really, that you don’t care to get back—but because you do not need lids, you can get them extremely cheaply—I think I got mine like 4/$1 at Dollar Tree or somewhere like that.)

Then we, uhm, Kara, began making fudge (recipes below). She started the butter melting in the huge “saucepan” and spread the containers out on counters. When the fudge was ready, rather than pouring it into 9 x 13 glass baking dishes (like we usually do), she simply filled each little plastic container (200 of them!) with fudge. She continued in this manner with all of the chocolate-walnut, then all the peanut butter. In two to three hours or so, she had like 70-80 containers filled with 50 lbs of fudge! (She was sixteen when she did this and was not all that experienced cooking on her own as she was our chief editor at the time—so she got out of kitchen duty a lot!)

When the fudge was cool and firm, she slid each one into a decorative bag (the little tub sat down in the bag so the top of the bag was twisted and tied (with ribbon) above the little tub—so tub sat upright in the bag) and tied it up. At that point, because we have a small house and little storage, she simply stacked them all in Rubbermaid tubs with lids and placed them in the storage shed (our “other refrigerator”) until we were ready to distribute them!

We have done various gifts for neighbors, students, church friends, family members, librarians, and more, including cookie trays, snack mixes, quick breads, yeast breads, and goodie tins. This is the simplest and fastest, by far. It is easy to clean up (just sauce pan, measuring cups, thermometer, and spoons). Plus, they taste amazing! 

Below are the recipes for all three of the fudges she used for this—chocolate walnut, peanut butter, and chocolate-peanut butter ribbon. Merry Christmas!

  Chocolate Walnut Fudge 6 pounds

8 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Butter 1 cup = 2 sticks

2 Each marshmellow cream 7 oz jars (2 of them)

2 Cup Walnuts, chopped Or more!

2 Each Evaporated Milk 12 oz cans (2 of them)

2 Package Chocolate Chips 12 oz pkgs (2 of

them=4 cups)

Instructions

1. Melt butter in large heavy sauce pan.

2. Stir in milk and sugar.

3. Bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching (on

medium to medium high heat).

4. Bring to softball stage (235′).

5. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted.

6. Add marshmellow cream and nuts, stirring until well blended.

7. Pour into 2 9 x 13 baking dishes.

8. Cool at room temp.

9. Makes approximately 6 lbs.

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                     Chocolate Walnut Fudge — Double 12 pounds

16 Cup Sugar

2 Cup Butter 1 cup = 2 sticks

4 Each marshmellow cream 7 oz jars (2 of them)

4 Cup Walnuts, chopped Or more!

4 Each Evaporated Milk 12 oz cans (2 of them)

4 Package Chocolate Chips 12 oz pkgs (2 of

them=4 cups)

Instructions

1. Melt butter in large heavy sauce pan.

2. Stir in milk and sugar.

3. Bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching (on

medium to medium high heat).

4. Bring to softball stage (235′).

5. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted.

6. Add marshmellow cream and nuts, stirring until well blended.

7. Pour into 4 9 x 13 baking dishes.

8. Cool at room temp.

9. Makes approximately 6 lbs.

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                               Peanut Butter Fudge 5-6 pounds

4 Cup Brown Sugar

4 Cup Marshmallows, miniature

4 Cup Sugar

4 Cup Peanut Butter, creamy

2 Cup Evaporated Milk

4 Tablespoon Vanilla

1/2 Cup Butter 1/2 cup = 1 stick

Instructions

1. Combine sugars, evaporated milk, and butter in heavy saucepan.

2. Cook until softball stage on medium (235′), stirring often.

3. Remove from stove.

4. Stir in marshmellows, peanut butter, and vanilla.

5. Stir until all is melted and begins to thicken.

6. Pour into 2 13 x 9 greased (PAM) baking dishes.

7. Cool, cut, and serve.

8. Makes approximately 5-6 pounds.

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                    Peanut Butter Fudge — Double 10-12 pounds

8 Cup Brown Sugar

8 Cup Marshmallows, miniature

8 Cup Sugar

8 Cup Peanut Butter, creamy

4 Cup Evaporated Milk

8 Tablespoon Vanilla

1 Cup Butter 1/2 cup = 1 stick

Instructions

————————————————————

1. Combine sugars, evaporated milk, and butter in heavy saucepan.

2. Cook until softball stage on medium (235′), stirring often.

3. Remove from stove.

4. Stir in marshmellows, peanut butter, and vanilla.

5. Stir until all is melted and begins to thicken.

6. Pour into 4 13 x 9 greased (PAM) baking dishes.

7. Cool, cut, and serve.

8. Makes approximately 10-12 pounds.

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                    Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ribbon Fudge 12 pounds

Ingredients for Both Layers

4 Cup Brown Sugar

4 Cup marshmellows miniature

12 Cup Sugar

4 Cup peanut butter, creamy

2 Cup Evaporated Milk

2 Each Evaporated Milk 12 oz cans

4 Tablespoon Vanilla

1 1/2 Cup Butter 1 stick=1/2 cup

2 Each marshmellow cream each jar=7 oz

2 Each Chocolate Chips each=12 oz package

Instructions for Chocolate Fudge “Ribbon”

1. For the chocolate fudge, melt 1 cup butter in large heavy sauce pan.

2. Stir in 2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk and 8 cups sugar.

3. Bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching (on

medium to medium high heat).

4. Bring to softball stage (235′).

5. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted.

6. Add marshmellow cream, stirring until well blended.

7. Pour chocolate fudge mixture into 4 9 x 13 baking dishes.

8. While chocolate layer is cooling, make peanut butter fudge according to

instructions below.

Instructions for Peanut Butter Fudge “Ribbon”

1. Combine 4 cups brown sugar, 4 cups white sugar, 1 cups evaporated milk,

and 1/2 cup butter in heavy saucepan.

2. Cook until softball stage on medium (235′), stirring often.

3. Remove from stove.

4. Stir in marshmellows, peanut butter, and vanilla.

5. Stir until all is melted and begins to thicken.

6. Pour over the four pans of chocolate fudge once it is cooled somewhat.

7. Let all cool before cutting; may put in fridge or cool garage, etc. to

cool quicker.

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