Monday, November 17, 2008

Corporate Holiday Gifts

A lot of businesses love to give holiday gifts to their employees as a way of saying thank you. Some corporate holiday gifts include bonus checks, gift baskets with expensive items (such as quality champagne) or a selection of gift certificates from popular restaurants and other establishments. Giving corporate gifts is a way of showing your employees that you appreciate all the hard work they put in to your company each day.

You can give different corporate holiday gifts to different people. You may not know some of your employees as well as others. In this case, giving them a bonus check or a selection of gift certificates may be your best bet. However, someone like your secretary may deserve a more personal gift, because they are the ones who are closest to you. In this case, a more personal gift will be meaningful, because it shows that you truly do appreciate them.

Also, don’t feel as if you need to spend the same amount of money on all your employees. If you decide to give bonus checks for your corporate gift, you can calculate the amount based on how much an employee earns. The same rule applies when you give gift certificates.

What do you do if your holiday gift budget is pretty low? Then something like a gift basket is a great option. You can have some of your employees put them together to save money, or you can just pick inexpensive items to go in the baskets. You can also have an office-wide holiday party and offer drawings for a few expensive items and give everyone a smaller, token gift.
When it comes to giving corporate holiday gifts, the main point is that people like to feel that the company appreciates their hard work. Stay within budget and be as generous as possible. This will help make your corporate holiday gift-giving efforts a success.

Holiday Gifts

Are you tired of giving the same holiday gifts year after year? Do you feel like you are running out of gift ideas? If gift giving has lost its excitement for you, here are some tips that will help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

Do you usually do your shopping in malls? Stores can be crowded any time of the year, but particularly during the holidays. Try finding your holiday gifts online instead. Online shopping is more relaxing, especially if you are looking for a particular item. Start shopping a month or so in advance, so you have plenty of time to scope out the best deals.

Making something from scratch is also a great way to spice up your gift giving. You can make your own homemade chocolates, bake an elaborate cake, create a ginger bread house or make someone an afghan. When you are trying to think of the perfect homemade, holiday gift consider the recipient’s interests. Homemade cookies won’t be meaningful to someone who dislikes chocolate.

Do you have a stash of gifts from last year that you won’t use? If you want to “re-gift,” make sure you keep track of where it came from. If not, this can lead to an embarrassing situation. Instead of recycling an unwanted gift, consider using your creativity to turn it into something different. A boring picture frame turns into a meaningful gift when you put a special photograph in it, for example.

Finally, understand that even though holiday gifts are an important part of the season, spending too much can also be dangerous. Make sure you shop smart and find the best deals. Someone else’s happiness is not worth a large credit card debt. Besides, a gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cookie Gift Basket

Most often, when you hear the word "cookie", the first thing that enters your mind is a food that kids love, right? Although it is true that most kids love eating cookies, this treat is also loved by adults especially those who are into chocolate-chip cookies and ginger snaps. That is why nowadays, cookie gift baskets are one of the famous gift basket ideas that people choose to give for different occasions.

Homemade Cookies and Specialty Cookies
If you know how to make homemade cookies, then you can bake some to include in your gift basket. Chocolate chip-cookies, oatmeal cookies, and thumbprint cookies are just few simple recipes that you can make on your own. Perhaps, the person whom you'll give the basket has already tried and loved your cookies. So, he or she will sure appreciate the effort you will give by baking the cookies and give them as a gift for an important occasion like birthday.
Aside from the homemade cookies, you can also include specialty cookies like lemon bars, chocolate-raspberry bars, hermits, and seven-layer bars. If these are special favorites of the recipient, they will sure love to receive a gift basket full of these goodies.

Cookie Gift Baskets Websites
But if you hardly find time to bake cookies or drop by at a local bakery to buy some, then you should check gift basket websites that offer a vast selection of cookie gift baskets, which are specially designed for important occasions. But because there are so many options, you should spend time comparing products of different websites in order to find the best gift basket available. And once you found one, you can request what cookies you would like to include on your basket and have it shipped right to your home or office for convenience.

So, the next time you look for the perfect gift idea, you should consider a cookie gift basket. This is not only nice to look at but it is also a very delicious treat that the recipient will surely love.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Holiday Cookies from Around the World

The holidays are all about traditions and in every corner of the world, the people mark the season with delectable cookies. Here are just a few of the traditional holiday cookies from around the world.

Scottish Shortbread Cookies - A simple recipe of flour, butter, sugar and cornstarch yields a delightful cookie that the Scots enjoy year round. However, they are particularly popular during New Year celebrations. There are numerous recipes for shortbread, but the Scots seem to know the trick for making them addicting.

Israeli Rugelach - This sweet Jewish treat has become a part of mainstream society in the US and throughout the world. The yeast based dough is cut in circles, covered with something like raisins or nuts, and rolled up to make crescent shapes.

Chinese Almond Cookies - The sweet almond has been cultivated in China since 600 AD making it a long term favorite in Chinese cooking. The Chinese often grind the almonds into a paste and combine it with milk to make sweet desserts such as these cookies that are enjoyed throughout the holidays.

Greek Melomakarona - These delicious morsels are made in a 2 step process. First, the cookies are baked until they have the texture of cake. Then they are liberally soaked in a mixture of honey syrup that is absorbed by the sponge-like cookie, creating a sweet treat like no other. During the Christmas season, these cookies are eaten all over Greece.

Mexican Wedding Cookies - These delectable cookies that are chock full of nuts and rolled in powdered sugar are known by many names in various countries throughout the world. They are usually shaped as crescents or round balls. The recipe may vary a bit from country to country, but the main ingredients are essentially the same. For instance, the people of Greece call them Kourambiethes and in the US, they are often known as butter balls or snowballs. In Mexico, these nutty delights are put in fancy paper holders and given out as guest favors at weddings. Whatever the name, they are delicious all the same!

Polish Thumbprint Cookies - These delightful little cookies literally have a thumbprint in the middle that is filled with apricot or other jam/preserves. Made with honey and almonds, these Christmas cookies capture the usual flavor of this region of the world.

German Chocolate Pretzel Cookies - These pretzel-shaped, chocolate shortbread cookies are a favorite in Germany at Christmas time. To make them look like authentic pretzels, they put on a light egg glaze and sprinkle the cookies with coarse sugar.

Swedish Pepparkakor - Also known as Swedish Ginger Thins, the Swedes often use cookie cutters to make these thin cookies into fun shapes like animals, people and stars during the holidays. It is a great family Christmas tradition much like making rolled and cut-out sugar cookies in the US.

Almond Cheesecake

"Wow" your guests with this fabulous cheesecake. Takes a little work, but the results are worth it. I haven't tasted an almond cheesecake like this before!

Graham Nut Crust

  • 2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened Sugar
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup ground blanched almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dairy sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Praline topping
  • Oven: 350 degrees

Graham Nut Crust
Combine 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine, 1/4 cup ground almonds and three teaspoons of sugar. Press on the bottom and one inch up the sides of an eight or nine inch springform pan.

Cake
Prepare crust and chill. Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in 2/3 cup sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each, then beat until smooth. Stir in almonds, almond extract, and salt. Pour into chilled crust and bake 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand on rack twenty minutes. Combine sour cream, 3 tablespoons sugar, and the vanilla extract. Spread on the cake. Return cake to oven and bake ten minutes longer. Cool on rack, then refrigerate. Run spatula around edge of cake to loosen, then remove sides of pan. Sprinkle with praline topping. Serves eight to ten (better make it ten; this is a rich cake).

Praline Topping
Melt 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When amber in color, stir in 1/3 cup whole blanched or unblanched almonds, coating well. Carefully pour onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and cool. Break praline into pieces, put into a towel, and crush coarsely with a rolling pin.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sugarless Almond Meringue Cookies

By: Jean Jitomir

Almond Cookies - Sugar Free

I developed the following recipe for mother's day when my mom was on a low-carb diet. Though I am not an advocate of the particular diet she chose, I wanted to appease her sweet tooth, which had been neglected for nearly a month. I found that I needed about double the Splenda sugar equivalent to get an acceptable taste; the texture of these meringues is more delicate that the traditional version, due to the lack of sugar in the recipe.

The following recipe will require making an egg white foam and a hand mixer.

Pre-heat oven to 275 F
Ingredients:
4 egg whites (fresh, room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1½ cups Splenda

Directions:
1. Beat egg whites and extracts at a medium speed until thick and foamy.
2. Add the cream of tartar.
3. Slowly add the Splenda about ¼ cup at a time until stiff peaks form (turn mixer on high about after all Splenda is added).
4. Place large spoonful of the mixture on a large cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden and completely dry*
6. Turn the oven off and allow cookies to cool in the oven for one hour.
Nutrition: Variable based on the size of the cookies, but the only nutrition in the recipe is from the egg whites (about 12g protein total) and some starch mixed with the sucralose sweetener in Splenda.

* Meringues cookies do not fair well in humid environments; do not set out on a plate. Will keep for a week or two in an air tight container.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cookie Bouquets

With so many different gift ideas and gift companies on the Internet, it can be a daunting task to pick one that is safe yet unique and one that is appealing and expressive of what you want to convey. Cookie bouquets are the perfect gifts to send to that special someone or group of people for all occasions and holidays.

Cookies are an all time favorite for anyone at any age. Cookie bouquets are ever increasing in popularity. Instead of the same old flowers and chocolates, try sending a cookie bouquet. They are the perfect gift for any occasion, conveying a message of warmth, love, and appreciation.
In addition to the holidays, cookie bouquets are the perfect corporate gift. Everyone at the office would love to share cookies compliments of you, of course. They leave a great lasting impression.
Another great time to send cookies bouquets is when you want to say sorry or offer condolences. The possibilities are endless and just about anyone "can" receive them unlike chocolates or flowers. Some online cookie companies now have pet gift baskets so your friend and their furry pal can both enjoy a nice treat!

Cookie companies are innovating new and unique designs to help you express your appreciation through sending cookie bouquets. Often, the bouquets will include keepsake items ranging from cups and mugs to more elaborate toys and goodies. Personalization is also included so you can send a custom message along with the special gift.

A great idea is to sign up for the cookie company's mailing list. You can opt out of their list anytime. This is a great way to be updated of specials, sales, offers, and new gift ideas. This way you don't have to go searching for a gift every time! Not only that, but they'll help remind you of upcoming holidays and occasions.