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Bonny H

Home made shortbread is thoughtful, inexpensive and delicious. Look away now if you're into low-fat.

Buy a nice sized glass jar with a screwtop lid from the dollar store or repurpose one.

My granny's old fashioned recipe:

Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius or 300 farenheit. Make sure the rack is nice and centred.

Ingredients:

-11 heaped tablespoons (not dessert spoons, tablespoons are a bit bigger) of plain flour (not self-raising!)

-1 and a half tablespoons of icing sugar

-2 heaped tablespoons cornflour

-1 and a half tablespoons of castor sugar

-Half a pound of soft butter (about 230g). Not rock hard from the fridge.

Method:

Mix icing sugar and castor sugar with the butter. Then add (sifted if possible) flour and cornflour. Mix well. Butter and flour a tin well & pour in your mix (use an averaged sized round or square cake tin - the point is the batter should be about 1cm thick in the floured and buttered pan). Smooth with a knife, prick all over with a fork. Bake in a slow oven (150 degrees celcius or 300 farenheit) for one hour. Be patient.

When cooled somewhat but not completely, cut into pieces with a sharp knife (either slices or squares depending on which baking tin or dish you used) and then when complely cool, take carefully out of tin, eating any broken ones ;) Sprinkle extra castor sugar lightly on top while warm and again when cold. You can also add a tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary BEFORE baking if you like that (thanks Kirstie Allsopp). This tastes a lot better than it sounds.

When completely cold, carefully arrange your pieces in the glass jar. Gift while fresh!! I make a double batch to make the cooking time worth it, and also it disappears really fast.

You can obviously tie a ribbon etc to the jar and make it more festive. Enjoy!

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Bonny H

Another good gift idea is to order some Calla lilly bulbs online in Spring (August or so in Australia). Plant three bulbs in a good-sized pot with a base water tray from the dollar store. Use a good quality potting mix, compost etc if you have it. The bulbs should placed be at least a hand width apart in the pots, so you need a good deep and wide pot.

You could also plant one bulb per smaller pot, they will still look good and should be about 30cm high come Christmas.

Look after your plants, watering daily until Christmas time by when they should be looking good as long as your bulbs were a good size to begin with.

Tie a festive ribbon to the pot and gift in the knowledge that your recipient will have beautiful flowers and more bulbs split off the originals, for years to come.

I've planted white, pink and black this year and one flower so far.

Note if a pet or child eats a calla lilly they could get sick, and contain in pots.

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Anna Rhees
Our family has a round robin so we each give a really nice gift to just one person, rather than small things for everyone. We have a "sign up" list leading up to Christmas so we can pick who we'd like to gift to.
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