I have a theory about cellophane. It makes everything look special, Christmas-ey, present-ey, birthday-ey or celebration-ey.
It’s something about it being crisp, shiny and new, and like a new product from a shop, never before opened, tampered with or tarnished.
Anyway, now we can buy cellophane with great patterns and designs from eBay (just type in “cellophane wrap”) or other outlets, and it’s just a few pounds for 20 metres or so. Alternatively, Ocado sell coloured cellophane bags (red or yellow) with a decorative ribbon tie for 15p each. Or pound shops often stock packs of cellophane bags. These can be filled with a selection of dirt-cheap sweets from Lidl (about £1.30 for a big bag of individually wrapped jelly sweets, fruit-flavoured sucky sweets, chewy toffee sweets etc) and they make great Christmas stocking fillers (if you don’t mind the sugar rush your kids will have at 5am).
I also have a habit of saving scented candle jars, which I have been using as drinking glasses, but my husband has rebelled at the “mishmash of odd glasses” we were drinking out of.
So I have (you’ve guessed it) filled them with sweets, enveloped them in coloured cellophane bags, and they’re going to my kids’ school Christmas Fair at £2 a pop.
The photo (left) shows the result plus the poster the girls designed and printed out on my laptop, plus (photo, top) us “quality testing” the sweets, before packaging them up.
The point is: they had a great time doing it, it was a family activity that didn’t involve the TV, it was for charity, plus it was satisfying, creative and cheap.
Now, obviously, you can make any kind of cookies or homemade fudge/sweets to put in cellophane bags to give as presents (but allow them to cool completely first – otherwise they go soggy and steam up the bag). But here I’m giving you a simple shortbread recipe that works well for Christmas/Hogmanay, and is a favourite of my younger daughter for baking.
Ingredients: (makes 8 wedges)
- 125g butter (I like salted)
- 55g sugar
- 180g plain flour
- Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
- Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth.
- Stir in the flour and work with your hands to get a smooth dough and turn onto a lightly floured work surface.
- Grease a baking tray.
- Press the dough onto the tray and ease out until it’s about 1cm thick, a nice round shape.
- Primp the edges if you like and prick with a fork for the traditional look.
- Sprinkle with a little more sugar.
- Mark into wedges half way through the thickness of the dough.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown.
- Cool for a few minutes then cut all the way through into wedges. leave to cool completely.
This would make a great prezzie for a family or your host, if you’re going to a Christmas celebration or drinks party. Just tie with a festive ribbon or make a gift tag. Homemade is always appreciated.