Ever since my 16 yr old was little, we have been leaving a little something extra for Santa's helpers....the reindeer that is! All of that flying around is exhausting so they need a little snack, too (especially if Santa's packing it on with cookies at each house!). It started with baby carrots and some celery but we've now moved onto our special concoction that takes a year or more to make ;)
Throughout the year, we save little bits and pieces of pantry items that we don't use. For example, one year we had a huge Chinese dinner so had extra crunchy noodles or I found an old box of rolled oats. This time, I had a bag of TVP (textured vegetable protein) which started as our base and then we tossed in some old crushed walnuts.
To help make it smell extra appetizing, I saved some spices that were not as fresh so normally would toss out- ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. For the extra sparkle and color, we toss in a 1/2 bottle of sprinkles (in this case, an interesting apple flavor). If you buy sprinkles, the bigger the better to make it easier to see.
We then separate the food into small bags. It's a good idea- no matter how many kids- to keep the portion small because if there's too much, the reindeer won't be able to eat it all and there will be leftovers on the lawn in the morning!
Then decorate with a ribbon and a cute tag (if giving as a gift, instructions are helpful so they don't think it's granola of some kind). I've made cuter looking bags before but we were lucky to even do it this year.
On Christmas Eve, right before heading to bed, have the kids go outside and sprinkle the food in the yard- Santa will be impressed with how thoughtful you were!
Chocolate Dipped Licorice and Pretzels
Since we had a shortage of Christmas Cookies this year (see our Cookie Exchange), I was short on giving goodies to friends and neighbors. While shopping at an event this year, we saw a gal selling chocolate dipped licorice. She said that it was so popular, that they hire somebody JUST to dip licorice! Well, as clever as it looked, I couldn't bring myself to pay $5 for a small bag of licorice so we decided to just make it ourself.
Obviously it's very simple, purchase fresh licorice (we bought the variety bag so had thick pieces, rope and black licorice) and melting chocolate.
OK- easy but I'm not that bright! Thought I'd melt it on the stove (vs a double boiler) and -of course- burnt it! Scrapped off the top (sorry folks) and finished melting in the microwave.
Dip (I lightly scrapped off the excess on the licorice twists), and then let cool on a sheet of wax paper.
When dry, put into a baggie, tin or just eat them all quickly yourself!