Jars of Candy Cane Cocoa Mix DIY Gift Idea

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This post is for letter “J” in the 2016 ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series, click here to see all posts.

It is hard to stick to the lesson plan when the holidays are in full swing. Sometimes I’m so preoccupied with Christmas planning that days come up where I suddenly realized that it’s 11 o’clock and we haven’t done any school yet. And has anyone even eaten breakfast? Christmas cookies? Those have eggs in them, right? Sometimes?

On those frazzled days, it’s nice to throw lesson plans out the window and do a fun activity with the kids instead. Especially if that activity results in beautiful gifts to share with friends and can be documented in the homeschool agenda as a lesson. Like making a delicious hot chocolate mix from scratch, as an example. It’s the perfect Christmas gift to make with your kids.


Making mixes is so easy and SO tasty. And so homeschooly, too, because I make my kids double and half the recipe, based on the size of the mason jars that we find. Math lesson? Done.

Math Activity #1: What size are your mason jars?

Grab a few random jars from your cupboard and tell your kids that you need to know how much they hold. The recipe below is for a 500 ml jar — are yours bigger or smaller? Have them fill each jar with water from a measuring glass to find out and then record it on a piece of paper.

Our Results:
Smallest: one cup (250ml)
Medium: two cups (500ml)
Large: four cups (1000ml)

Math Activity #2: How many candy canes are in one cup?

If you have extra candy canes lying around, try this! Put a cup of water in a large measuring glass and then add candy canes, one at a time, until the water level reaches two cups. Then pour your water out and count how many candy canes it took. You might need to add something to weigh them down if they float up, or maybe push them down under the water with the tip of your finger. Be sure that the wrappers are well-sealed before starting!

Math Activity #3: Doubling and Dividing

This is a great chance to practice doubling a recipe or dividing it in half. The recipe below gives the measurements that worked in a 500 ml jar — can your kids figure out how much of each ingredient you would need to fill a 1000 ml jar? How about a 250 ml jar? You can also try giving your kids smaller measuring cups than they need so they can practice doubling as they go.

I did a similar gift, a pancake mix, about seven or eight years ago when my oldest child was just a toddler. Those was pre-Pinterest times, so I didn’t think so much about presentation. We simply mixed the ingredients in a large bowl and then I let her scoop the powder into jars until they were filled. I took a picture of her busy at work and then printed the image out to put on the lid. Finally, we tied the jars with a ribbon. My daughter was so proud as she handed out her hard work to friends and family. I was happy to have found the world’s easiest gift.

Of course, the world of “gifts in a jar” has exploded since then, but it’s still unbelievably easy to create something beautiful. Simply have your kids scoop the ingredients into a jar, one at a time, then add a lid and a ribbon and you’re done. You could even have an older child write out the ingredients and instructions for the labels while another child draws a picture or copies a poem on the other side. “What’s that? You’re right, sweetheart, this is just like copywork! Now keep going.” 😉

Candy Cane Cocoa Mix: To Fill a 500 ml Jar
(using this recipe)

  • 1/2 cup of powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (I used a fine sugar)
  • 1/4 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup of crushed candy cane

To make a cup of hot chocolate:

Stir the mix and then add 2-3 tbsp to a cup of boiling water. Top with extra milk if desired (I used cold milk to cool it down faster). Stir until the chocolate chips and candy cane crumbs dissolve, then enjoy!

At first we put candy canes chunks in the jars because they just looked so pretty sitting at the top of the jar. However, I worried a bit about my kids choking on little pieces if they drank the hot chocolate before the candy cane chunks were fully dissolved. After visions of spending Christmas practicing the Heimlich Maneuver, I picked all the chunks back out of the jars and pulverized them in our food processor. It’s okay though — crushed candy cane crumbs look pretty too. Like pepperminty glitter.

And the final drink? Honestly, I can’t believe how delicious it is. Far better than any mix I’ve had before. I’m excited to make other blends — salted caramel? A chocolate chai? I should let my kids experiment and create their own. Maybe they’ll find some magic combination and next year their marshmallow-and-fishy-cracker-surprise will be the next big thing at Starbucks. What’s your favourite hot chocolate combination? Tell me in a comment below, because I have the feeling we’ll be making a lot more hot chocolate mix this year!

Jars of Candy Cane Cocoa Mix DIY Gift Idea

BIO: Tamara Watson is a wife and a homeschooling mother of three. Her interests include blogging at www.unhurriedhome.com, starting-but-never-finishing new knitting projects, and lying on the couch in a daze, wondering how the house could be so messy when all she does is clean 47 hours a day. It’s good to have hobbies, right?


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