Help! I Need a Gift Fast!


Christmas/Hanukkah/Holidays/Festivus is quickly approaching and here on THE BEACH we have some ideas about how to keep your sanity.

Diana Layne, who has six children (9-31) and 3 grandchildren, (not to mention several Romantic Suspense Bestsellers!) has learned a thing about how to make gift giving easier!

Take it away Diana. . .


The days are quickly passing and Christmas will soon be here. Are you ready? If not, I have some links to last minute do-it-yourself projects!

I’m not much of a do-it-yourselfer except when I’ve been forced into it; times of too many kids and not enough money. More often than not, my projects never turn out as planned. One year, I had the bright idea to make candles . . . not too hard, right? Let me just say if the grid ever goes out and we no longer have electricity and have to go back to the candle days . . . I’ll be in the dark. #disaster

One project that did turn out well was a potpourri hanger made out of an embroidery hoop. Likely that turned out well because it was a church project and I had someone helping me step-by-step. I don’t have a picture but I did find one on the internet with instructions. Really, if I can do it, it’s pretty easy. The article suggests making them for Mother’s Day, but they do work for Christmas too. (Actually, I bet a lot of these projects work for any special occasion.)

Finally, though, my go-to homemade gift was cookies. I baked all kinds, but became most well-known throughout the family for my Russian teacakes. They look festive inside a small holiday tin and most everyone loves them. I’ll include the recipe at the end of the post.

Below are some links to pages with a bunch of other links—hopefully you’ll find something perfect to make for that last minute gift!

Really big list of Homemade Stocking Stuffers: Click here

Gifts you can make in under an hour: Click here!

Stocking Stuffer Candy Sleighs: Click here (I plan to make these for the grandkids)

Want the house to smell Christmas-y while you’re working? Click here.

And as promised, the Russian teacake recipe:

(The picture was taken with my iPod. I don’t have a camera; I pretty much flunk in the photography department, too. But trust me, they’re cute inside a little tin. Or big one, just depends on how much of a baking mood you’re in.)

Russian Teacakes

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
¾ cup finely chopped nuts
¼ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

Heat oven to 400ºF.

Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.

Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. When thoroughly cool, roll in powdered sugar again. (I just put the sugar in a big bowl)

TIPS: Margarine or butter works equally well, but I prefer the taste of butter. I also use salted butter for this particular recipe, it tastes too bland without it, even though there is a bit of salt in the recipe itself. Do NOT use reduced fat butter, the cookies will turn out tough and rubbery (said from experience).

I always use a Bosch to mix them. If you mix by hand and find it’s not mixing well, the butter is not soft enough. If you use a food processor or kitchen machine and the dough is crumbly and not sticking together, again, the butter is not soft enough. The perfect dough should clean the sides of the bowls as it’s mixing.

I always divide the dough and leave part of it in the fridge while I’m rolling; otherwise if it gets too warm the balls won’t hold their shape. Also, if you find your balls flatten while baking, the dough needs to be chilled a bit. I do the first rolling of sugar when the cookies are just barely cool enough to touch-they need to be warm to melt the sugar.

Hope my ideas help. If you have your own foolproof last minute DIY gift, or if you’ve tried one of the ones listed, please feel free to share in the comments.

Best wishes for a fantastic holiday!
Diana Layne,

Check out Diana's Bestselling Amazon Series THE VISTA SECURITY SERIES. Just visit her Beach Read Authors page by clicking here.