115 Ideas for Advent Calendar- and Stocking-Stuffers

Tischibo Advent Calender

Tischibo Advent Calendar

Christmas season is approaching, and here in Switzerland Advent calendars are traditional.  They can be made of anything from a cheap cardboard with fold-out “windows” and nothing but an image hidden, to miniature stockings stuffed to the gills for each day.  Our calendar is made of small cloth bags, similar to the ones pictured.

Sometimes it’s hard to find good ideas for gifts – small things for people who’ve got everything they really need, yet fun and practical.  Below is my personal list from which to draw on each year, and I hope it inspires you too!

Ideas for Advent Calendar Accoutrements:

  • Add a DAIM chocolate, or some kind of small treat, to the advent calendar’s daily contents.
  • Add a coupon for activities to be done together (see ideas below).

 

Stocking & Advent Calendar Stuffers

Coupons, Gift Cards

  1. Gift card
  2. Gift card for a home pedicure
  3. Coffee shop gift card
  4. Coupon to “watch a Christmas movie” attached to a bag of microwavable popcorn
  5. Time / activity coupons
  6. Coupon for a Christmas picnic
  7. Coupon to go bowling, play miniature golf, etc.
  8. Car wash gift card
  9. Couple time coupon
  10. An activity ticket book – activities to do together
  11. A lipstick kiss:  It costs nothing to give a lipstick kiss to the man you adore.  Find a nice piece of paper and add a cute message, too.
  12. Love letter
  13. Game night – his choice
  14. Coupon for a home-massage or pedicure

Crafts, DIY

  1. Embroidery thread for friendship bracelets
  2. Fancy scissors
  3. Scrapbook paper (rolled up in a paper towel tube)
  4. Scrapbooking ribbons, tags, embellishments, etc
  5. Package of decorative buttons (for crafting)
  6. Knitting needles or crochet hooks
  7. Crochet or knitting pattern book
  8. Beads and elastic
  9. Stickers
  10. Rubber craft stamps
  11. Drill bits
  12. Tool keyring
  13. A jar of essential oils
  14. Tape measure
  15. Nails & screws
  16. 3M hooks

Electronics

  1. Disposable camera for silly photos
  2. Ear buds
  3. Book light
  4. Calculator
  5. USB stick or memory card
  6. ITunes gift card
  7. Cell phone cover
  8. Camera memory card
  9. Car charger for cell phone
  10. Mini torch (flashlight)

Foods

  1. Holiday baking
  2. Beef jerky
  3. Gourmet coffee
  4. Specialty tea
  5. Cookie cutters
  6. Mini bar sized alcohol
  7. Festive nuts
  8. Favorite candy bar
  9. Snack packages (cheese crackers, cookies, etc)
  10. Gum
  11. Hot chocolate packets

Just For Fun

  1. Small plastic toy figures
  2. Fun foam keychains
  3. Pocket Farkle
  4. “Pass the Pigs” game
  5. Dice with cards for individual dice games
  6. Playing cards with rule book for new games
  7. Party popper
  8. Mini Rubik’s cube
  9. Wooden puzzle
  10. Mistletoe – hint, hint
  11. Small bouncy ball
  12. Temporary tattoos
  13. Trading cards
  14. Glow sticks

Practical

  1. Kitchen magnet
  2. Earrings or jewelry
  3. Votive candles
  4. Keychain or keyring
  5. Beaded bookmark
  6. Wallet
  7. Small framed photo
  8. A Christmas ornament
  9. Seed packets
  10. Sport paraphernalia: golf tees, golf balls, fishing hooks, sport-related keychains or pens, etc.
  11. Mini flashlight
  12. Money in a creative way: origami, treasure hunt, coin hunt, etc.
  13. Slipper socks

Stationery

  1. Pencil sharpener
  2. Erasers
  3. A bookmark
  4. Stamps for mailing cards
  5. Mini notepad
  6. Hand written note
  7. Joke or a seasonal quote
  8. Make holiday cards
  9. Stretchy book covers
  10. Diary or pocket calendar
  11. Diary with invisible ink pen
  12. Funky pens
  13. Gel pens and black paper
  14. Box of dollar store note cards
  15. Erasers
  16. Mini office set (tape, stapler, etc.)
  17. Sudoku book

Toiletries

  1. Barrettes / pony tail holders
  2. Comb
  3. New toothbrush
  4. Makeup
  5. Lip balm
  6. Perfume
  7. Nail polish in funky colors
  8. Manicure set
  9. Pedicure egg or pumice stone
  10. Scented hand lotion
  11. Scented hand sanitizer or soap
  12. Facial masque
  13. Fancy hand soaps
  14. Hair accessories
  15. Deodorant
  16. Toothbrush
  17. Dental floss
  18. Underwear
  19. New tie
  20. Tester sized perfume bottles
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Go-To Bisquick Apple Pie

Groaning Bisquick Apple PieI made this pie tonight by combining two recipes and tweaking – as one does.  It’s delicious, and I think I can stop looking for a go-to recipe for apple pies!  The crumbly crust of Bisquick contrasts with the creamy smooth filling and texture of the baked apple slices to make it a sensuous experience in the mouth.

Go-To Bisquick Apple Pie

CRUST

2 C. Bisquick Mix

½ C. Softened butter

5-6 Tbs. Hot water

Whisk together with a fork until smooth and a ball is formed.  Pat into a buttered pie dish, smoothing it up the edges.  Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling:

FILLING

400 gr. apple juice

2 Tbs. cornstarch

2 Tbs. butter

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 medium cooking apples (peeled, cored & sliced)

Combine apple juice & cornstarch in a medium saucepan, stirring well. Cook over medium heat until thickened & bubbly. Stir in butter, cinnamon, & vanilla. Add apples; toss well to coat.

Pour into the pie crust, spreading evenly.  Bake at 180°C 35-40 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Let it rest ~10 minutes; the liquid will firm up.

Add a dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy!

Apple & Date Chicken Curry

This is a lovely dish with vibrant colours and a great combination of sweet and savoury.  You can either make this the traditional way – cooking on the stove, or as I did, in the crockpot / slow cooker; this latter method allows me to throw it together and get on with the appetizer and dessert, then take a break from the kitchen and get to work on my next novel.  The side dish of rice is made just before serving, and the whole meal will be hot and ready by the time the guests arrive.

As a complete menu idea, I served this dish with the following:  As the appetizer, Salted Stuffed Dates with Feta Cheese; as the side dish, smoked (or normal) Basmati rice; for dessert, the Apple Tiramisu.  The latter is a “multi-culti” jump; if you prefer to stay Middle Eastern / Indian, you could perhaps serve it with the Moroccan Pineapple and Banana Pudding or the East African Sweet Potato Pudding, though I tried to stay with the date and apple theme of the meal, so it worked very well together!

Apple & Date Chicken CurryApple & Date Chicken Curry

800g Chicken Meat, diced

3 Apples, peeled, cored & diced

Lemon Juice, to taste

~100 gr. white raisins

~ 200g Dates, pitted & halved

1 bundle Spring Onions, finely chopped

A dash of Garlic Oil

Curry Sauce:

In a bowl, mix together:

½ tsp. Cumin

½ tsp. Turmeric

½ tsp. Paprika

½ tsp. Salt

½ tsp. Ground Pepper

½ tsp. Ground Coriander

¼ tsp. Ground Mace

½ tsp. Ginger, finely diced

2 Cloves Garlic, smashed & finely diced

1 Tbs. Curry Powder

1 can Coconut Milk

1-2 C. Chicken Broth

Stove-Top Method:

Sauté onion, ginger, garlic & spices together.  Add meat, cook until no longer pink; add in apples, cook til almost soft, then throw in the dates.  Pour in the liquids and simmer until warm through. Spice t.t.

Crockpot Method:

Stir all ingredients together thoroughly to combine; make sure that the meat is covered by the liquid (pressed down into the coconut milk & broth).  Cook on Low for 4-6 hours.

Serve with Basmati rice.

Serves 4-6

Salted Dates Stuffed with Feta Cheese

Dates with FetaThe combination of coarse sea salt and the sweet dates with the tangy taste of Feta is truly addictive!  These wee appetizers are quick, easy, and will likely make you groan with the great taste as it explodes on your taste buds.

Serve them warm; you can either heat up the oven to 190°C (375°F) and bake for 5 or 6 minutes, or zap them in the microwave; I prefer the latter as it is far more energy-efficient, quick, and literally last-minute before guests sit down at the table, or couch, or wherever you’re serving your appetizers / starters / hors d’oeuvres.

I served this appetizer along with a recipe for Apple & Date Chicken Curry (coming soon!), and smoked Basmati rice, with Apple Tiramisu for dessert.

Plan for 6-8 per person, more or less.

Salted Dates Stuffed with Feta Cheese

Dates – de-stemmed and pitted

100-200 gr. Feta Cheese, sliced into date-slit-sized wedges

Coarse sea salt

TIP:  Dates are much easier to handle if your hands are wet – they won’t stick as much.

To prepare the dates, slice a knife along the length; pry the opening open with your fingers, and slip the seed out of the centre, being careful to leave the ends of the dates intact if possible.

Stuff each date with a wedge of Feta (or any goat cheese), and then sprinkle all of them with coarse sea salt (table salt is not recommended, as you don’t want them uniformly salty – just accented with it).

Just before serving, either bake (as above) or zap in the microwave less than a minute (mine took about 30-40 seconds); you just want the dates warm and the cheese soft, not melted out of the fruit!