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Merry Christmas from Collective Purchasing!

Christmas Is Almost Here, Have You Done Your Shopping? Planned the Day and Made Sure You Are Ready for the Celebrations?

Here at Collective, we hope you all have a lovely Christmas time. Here are some tips that we have thought of in order to prepare yourself even more:

Merry Christmas

Perfect Christmas Gifts for Care Home Residents:

Giving presents at Christmas is one of the best things about the holidays. Watching someone open the gift wrapping and seeing their gift with a smile! Care homes have an even more difficult job around Christmas time, making sure their residents are in the spirit and aren’t left behind of the celebrations.

Here are some perfect stocking fillers for our golden oldies:

Merry Christmas

Bedroom accessories:

Care homes can sometimes have rules about what residents are able to keep in their rooms. However, a few finishing touches can make residents feel so much more at home. Making their room more personal will always make the person much happier.

  • Scanning in some old photos and popping them in frames for display will not only create a more homely environment but also trigger happy memories.
  • A small plant or cactus will also brighten up the space – this will also give the resident a chore each day to water it.
  • Animal lovers would appreciate a sponsorship being set up in their name. They would then receive photos and monthly updates on how the animal is getting on throughout the year – so the present wouldn’t just be at Christmas, it would be all year around!
  • How about a new duvet and pillow cover set? In their favourite colour/pattern to add more personality to their room. A blanket may come handy with that too and perfect for the cold winter months!
  • This could be a long shot, but how about posters/pictures or bunting? Depending on the resident and their tastes – catering for an individual that you know well will be much easier once you see trigger words for present ideas, (you could even make the bunting yourself = saving money!).
Merry Christmas
Credit: House to Home

Personal care items:

Everyone always uses body care lotions, fragrances, soaps and creams all throughout the year! A perfect time to help a resident stock up is at Christmas time as you know it will be something they will definitely use!

  • How about a hamper of personal care goodies? Body wash, lotion, perfume, body sprays… lots can go in here that will make someones Christmas!
  • A new fluffy dressing gown will go down a treat in a care home – saves the resident a lot of hassle on a lazy day for sure.
  • New PJ’s and slippers will also be the perfect gift in order to keep warm and cosy in the winter months.
  • This one is a D.I.Y gift – create a hand made personal voucher that would get the resident access to one beauty treatment. Such as, a proper shave, a hair cut, nail treatment or a hair cut. This will help the resident feel like them self and is practical present.

Merry Christmas

 

Craft kits, games, and activities:

Lots of care homes have very full activity schedules, but it’s still nice for residents to receive items they can enjoy on their own or to discover new hobbies.

  • A year subscription to a magazine could be a brilliant present idea in order to help with a residents interests to keep them in the loop.
  • A notelet set complete with stamps so that they can write to you is a great way to keep the residents handwriting up to scratch.
  • Film fans might appreciate a ‘night in’ package, complete with a DVD of a film they love, their favourite sweets and perhaps a miniature of their favourite tipple.
  • Board games that keep the mind active are often well received too; why not choose a new game that’s new to the market or a traditional jigsaw puzzle?

Merry Christmas

 

 

Or… some yummy personalised treats?

 

Merry Christmas
Credit: Pinterest 

What do I need?

2 stick softened unsalted butter, 1 cup of sugar, 3 large eggs, 1½ tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp salt, 3¼ cups all-purpose flour.

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, using a mixer set on medium-high, beat together softened unsalted butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add all-purpose flour, beating until ingredients are combined. (Dough will be slightly sticky.)
  2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions and cover each in plastic wrap, patting into 1/2-inch-thick squares. Chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll out dough, a square at a time, to 1/3 inch thick. Cut out cookies using ornament- or tag-shaped cutters. Transfer cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for 10 minutes.
  4. Bake until lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on pan or wire rack before decorating.
  5. Use your creative skills to decorate as you please! Names, messages, pretty pictures – we will leave that up to you.

Top tip: Royal icing creates a firm surface that’s perfect for writing on with food-safe markers. To make, blend 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons meringue powder, and 3 tablespoons water using a mixer set on low speed for 12 minutes.

Do you have a real Christmas tree this year? Check out this advice from Collective to make the most out of them!

 

Merry Christmas
Credit: Flickr user, Tom Simpson

 

Do you know where the tradition came from?

No body is really 100% certain on where the idea to put up a fir tree in the middle of your house, shop, care home or restaurant came from! But we do know that at the beginning people use to hang their trees from the ceiling using chains and chandeliers! Imagine that, walking into a Christmas party and seeing a huge tree hanging from a ceiling — weird.

Christmas lights came around in 1895, when an American telephonist Ralph Morris decided that candles were causing too many fires, as people were placing candles on the tree (crazy, right?!).

Merry Christmas
Credit: Pinterest

Use the space you have wisely — do you have a perfect spot fore the tree you have chosen to fit in nicely? 

If you are going to spend a lot of money in making sure you have the best looking tree and decorate it to it’s highest potential, why not make sure it’s in the best place to show off? We don’t know about anyone else, but we associate Christmas with being a small child and having the smell of the Christmas tree pines making the house smell like Christmas.

Sawing an inch off the end of the Christmas tree trunk when purchased is a great way to prepare it for being planted in a bucket and it also means it will last at its best for longer.

Here are some of Collective’s favourite Christmas foodie recipes:

Holiday Tree Brownies:

Now these look yummy!

Merry Christmas
Credit: Betty Crocker

What do I need?

1 box Betty Crocker Supreme original brownie mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box, 2 or 3 drops green food colour, 2/3 cup Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting, Betty Crocker Decorating Decors red and green candy sprinkles or miniature candy-coated chocolate baking bits, Miniature candy canes (2 inch), unwrapped.

Method:

1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Line 9-inch square pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over sides of pan. Grease bottom only of foil with shortening or cooking spray.

2. Make brownie mix as directed on box for 9-inch square pan. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from pan by lifting foil; peel foil away. To cut brownie into triangles, cut into 3 rows. Cut each row into 5 triangles (See diagram below in Expert Tips). Save smaller pieces for snacking.

3.  Stir food color into frosting. Spoon frosting into small resealable food-storage plastic bag; partially seal bag. Cut off tiny bottom corner of bag. Squeeze bag to pipe frosting over brownies. Sprinkle with decors.

4. Break off curved end of candy cane; insert straight piece into bottoms of triangles to make tree trunks.

Sugar charms:

Perfect for decoration, as well as eating!

Merry Christmas
Credit: BBC Good Food 

These would be great to spend an afternoon making with your residents and could hang them on the Christmas tree! 

What ingredients do you need?

Sunflower oil (for greasing), 7-8 fruit-flavoured boiled sweets (unwrapped and sorted by colour), 400g bag clear mint sweets  (Fox’s glacier mints if you are going by this recipe), 2 metres of coloured thread or thin ribbon (for hanging).

Method:

  1. Grease two large baking trays with the oil. Crush the fruit-flavoured sweets by colour and put into separate bowls. Arrange small clumps of coloured sweets onto the trays.
  2. Put the mints in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook gently until melted, stirring occasionally with a metal spoon. Once melted completely, remove from the heat immediately, otherwise the mixture will burn and discolour.
  3. Working quickly, design your charm shapes (making sure they have a hole for threading the ribbon) by drizzling spoonfuls of the melted mints over the clumps of coloured sweets on the trays – they will melt into your shape and add interest to your design.
  4. If the mixture hardens while you are working, return it to a low heat to soften, but try to make as many as you can in one go – the more you heat the mixture, the less clear the final charms will be. Leave to set for about 10 mins until hard and cool enough to handle, then remove from the tray by hand – be careful as they will be quite brittle. Tie a length of ribbon through each charm for hanging on the tree. Pack in a box between sheets of baking parchment so they don’t stick together. Eat within 3-4 days, or keep as a decoration for up to 4 weeks.

Christmas tree crispy pops:

Merry Christmas
Credit: BBC Good Food

What ingredients do you need?

200g marshmallow, 3 tbsp golden syrup, 100g Rice Krispies, 6 ice-cream cones, 500g icing sugar, ½ tsp green food colouring, sweets and sprinkles of your choice (to decorate).

Method:Melt the marshmallows and golden syrup in a pan, then stir in Rice Krispies. Working quickly, pack the mixture into ice cream cones and push a lolly stick into the middle of each one. Chill the cones for 1 hr until completely firm. Mix icing sugar with green food colouring and enough water to make a thick icing. Dip the cones into the icing and decorate with sweets and sprinkles. Prop up on a wire cooling rack to set.

Reindeer cake pops:

These cuties are great to get the residents in the Christmas spirit or hand out to visiting guests.

 

Merry Christmas
Credit: BBC Good Food 

What do you need?

150g chocolate cake, 25g soft butter, 50g icing sugar, 25g plain chocolate, 100g milk chocolate, small pretzels (broken into large ‘antler’ shape pieces),  8 small jelly sweets (red chocolate beans or Smarties), 2 tbsp royal icing coloured black or purchased black writing icing.

Equipment: 8 cake pop sticks and a polystyrene block to stand up the cake pops.

Method:

  1. Crumble the cake into fine crumbs using your hands or in a food processor. Put into a bowl. In another bowl, beat together the butter and icing sugar until creamy.
  2. Melt the plain chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture and combine well. Add this to the cake crumbs and mix thoroughly using your hands, until it sticks together. Divide the mixture into eight and shape each one into a smooth ball. Insert a cake pop stick, place on a tray lined with baking parchment and chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Take a cake pop and dip in the chocolate. Shake gently until the excess has drained off. Push into a polystyrene block.
  4. Make two holes in the top of the head and insert a pretzel ‘antler’ in each one. Press a sweetie nose onto the front and hold for a few seconds until attached. Repeat with all the other cake pops. Leave to set for about 20 mins and then using black icing, pipe on eyes and a mouth.

Perky penguins:

Need stocking ideas for residents? Or maybe an afternoon activity? 

Merry Christmas
Credit: BBC Good Food 

What do you need? (To make 3):

3 jumbo chocolate buttons, 150g icing made from royal icing sugar, 3 walnut whips, 100g chocolate flavour ready-to-roll fondant icing, 3 red fruit pastilles (we used Tesco as they look like woolly hats), 1 orange fruit pastille, black writing icing.

Method:

  1. Cut the jumbo chocolate buttons in half and place together in pairs, rounded sides touching, to make feet. Snap the walnut off the top of the walnut whip and discard. Put a little royal icing on each pair of feet and stick a walnut whip on top.
  2. Divide the fondant icing in three. Take one piece and roll out into a sausage that is fat in the middle and thin at both ends. Flatten the ends to make flippers. Place the sausage on top of the walnut whip and shape the fat middle section into a head. Leave the flippers to hang free at the sides.
  3. To decorate, put the remaining royal icing into a piping or plastic bag and snip a tiny bit off the end. Pipe a circle on the front of each penguin. Pipe two dots for eyes. Pipe a circle on top of each head and stick on a fruit pastille. Pipe a blob on top for a bobble.
  4. Carefully cut three triangular pieces from the orange fruit pastille and stick on the face. Using the black writing icing pipe black dots in the centre of each eye. Leave to set.

Do you have special dietary requirements? Don’t worry, you can still eat yummy foods this Christmas:

Dairy-free mince pies with  gluten-free almond pastry:

Merry Christmas
Credit: The Guardian

What do I need? (Makes 12)

For the mincemeat: 4 dried apricots, 2 tbsp dried cranberries, 2 tbsp walnut pieces, 1 apple (peeled, cored and roughly grated), 50g soft brown sugar, 50g sultanas, 25g sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp brandy, 1 tbsp treacle, 1 tbsp marmalade, 1 tbsp rice flour, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp vegetable oil.

For the pastry: 60g dairy-free margarine (plus extra for greasing), 25g soft brown sugar, 75g ground almonds, 50g gram (chickpea) flour, 50g rice flour, A pinch of salt.

Method:

1. To make the mincemeat, finely chop the dried apricots, cranberries and walnut pieces. Place with all the other ingredients in a bowl. Stir, cover and place in the fridge overnight (or for up to a week before use).

2. To make the pies, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Lightly grease the hollows of a 12-piece tart tin/fairy cake tin (muffin tins are too big) with margarine.

3. Cream together the margarine and sugar, then add all the dry ingredients and mix well to form a dough. Roll out a portion of it thinly and cut 12 small star shapes for the lids.

4. Cut the remaining pastry into 12 equal lumps. Gluten-free pastry is delicate, so it is easiest to make the pie bases by taking a lump and then squidging the pastry evenly around the hollow with your thumb.

5. Spoon 1 tbsp mincemeat into each pie. Put a star on top of each one.

6. Bake for 17-20 minutes until the pastry has browned. Leave the pies in the tin until cool. Ease a butter knife around the edge of each pie before tipping out. Dust with icing sugar.

Watch this space, as next week we will be publishing lots of Christmas leftover recipe ideas!