DIY Projects

Exquisite Christmas Gifts for under Five Dollars – Mmmm Apples

The holiday season is upon us.  Thanksgiving is two weeks away and that makes Christmas just around the corner.  It is the most wonderful time of the year, but it also can be very stressful.  Gifts become expensive as lists grow between children, friends, and work while cortisol levels rise thinking about what’s left to do.  Effortless and Exquisite’s holiday gift series gives ideas to help alleviate some of the burden through simple and creative gift ideas for you to do yourself – all for under $10!  No gift idea in the series will cost more than $10 in materials and some as low as $2!  So Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas and roll up those sleeves!

I am calling these apples Mmmm Apples because they are yummy.  I will give slight variations depending on your taste preferences.  Each apple costs between $1.75 and $3.00 so they are great gifts to teachers, classmates, friends at work, church members, etc without breaking the proverbial bank.
Option #1 is caramel apples covered in M&M Candies.  There are two ways to make the handle.  One is a festive candy cane (adult friendly but fragile for children) or the second is a tongue depressor or ice cream stick.  I prefer the tongue depressor because it is a bit wider than the ice cream stick, but either will do.

Materials needed are in the photo.  I prefer a bit smaller apples for children.  The apples cost $3.00 but were not on sale (thumbs down), the M & M’s cost $2, and the caramel candy cost $2.00.  I had enough material to make 5-6 making the final cost – let’s round up to $1.75. 

Start by using a table knife to make a cut into the apple in which to place the stick or candy cane.  Wave the knife back and forth gently but don’t slice through, just open up a bit of space.  Place either the wooden sticks or (gently) the candy canes into the apple holes.

Over low heat, begin to melt the caramels.  Stir the pot constantly.  I added a couple of spoonfuls of water to make it easier to stir.  Roll out a sheet of parchment or wax paper to set the apples on later.  Also pour your M & M’s into a small bowl for easy reach. 


Once the caramel is melted, I dip the apple quickly into the pot using a circular motion.  Spoon extra caramel on any open spaces on the apple.  Place it upright onto the parchment paper.  Let the apple briefly sit for the caramel to set, just a minute or so.  With M&M’s in each hand, gently press them into the sides of the apple until the entire apple is covered with the candies.


Repeat until the caramel mixture is gone. BUT WAIT, I have a secret ingredient as an alternative to caramel….Any guesses?


 I also like to use NUTELLA!  The nutella is the no bake alternative to sticky caramel.  I smear nutella onto the apple following the same apple preparation steps above.


Your hands will be sticky by this point so be prepared with towels or a sturdy apron.  Cover the apple with nutella.  Again, using two handfuls of M&M’s, gently press the candies into the side of the apple until it is completely covered in candy.

Once the apples are made, they need to sit for a few hours to overnight in a cool place or the refrigerator.  Wrap them in a clear plastic cellophane or decorative bag and tie a ribbon a few inches from the apple on the stick.  This makes a delicious and thoughtful gift for someone very special in your life.  It will be the most exciting apple a teacher could receive during the school year!  No one will ever know how economical the gift is because it is so festive and novel. 

Good Luck!  Please post comments if you try this recipe!

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Julie, The Effortless Girl, is from a small (teeny tiny) community in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. The Effortless Girl was born out of a desire to challenge herself to find accessible, unique lifestyle ideas with cost savings in mind. LEARN MORE >

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