Party Favors: Handmade and Homemade

The words "party favor" make me think of fond memories of decorated paper bags from elementary birthday parties, filled with plastic trinkets, cough-syrup-flavored hard candy, and Tootsie Rolls. I remember being excited that I got to go to the party and get a gift! My idea of a "party favor" has since changed. Now I enjoy being on the giving end of party favors because I get to unleash my creativity (and my inner Martha) and figure out how to leave a lingering impression of the event with my guests. For our wedding, we put together a CD we called "Music for the Ride Home" full of our favorite songs for guests to listen to as they made their way back to their homes over the following days. Favors are a great way to "complete" the look and feel and experience of your event. (Admittedly, I get a little giddy at the sight of well-packaged, personal favors at various events!)

For a recent Texas-themed get-together, I made homemade granola to give to guests for their "trail ride home." I found small canning jars and printed labels from my inkjet printer onto adhesive paper, and appropriately named it "Tex Mix."

I found the granola recipe in Texas Monthly (even more appropriate). It was my first time to make homemade granola, and it blows the boxed stuff out of the, uh, milk. The recipe is below, of course.

Tex Mix Granola
adapted from Texas Monthly

1 cup pure maple syrup (not maple-flavored)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
4 ounces (about 1 cup) pecan halves
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels)
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) raw unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
4 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) chopped dried peaches or nectarines
4 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) dried cherries or golden raisins

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Combine maple syrup, brown sugar, oil, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown sugar is dissolved, and stir in vanilla. In a large bowl, combine oats, pecans, pepitas, sunflower seeds, flour, milk powder, and flaxseed meal. Pour warm syrup mixture over dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the moistened oats evenly between the sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, then stir with a metal spatula and switch sheets to opposite racks to ensure even cooking. Bake another 20 minutes, then stir and switch pans again. Continue baking until mixture has a fragrant, toasty aroma, about another 10 to 15 minutes.

Cool the granola in the pans, breaking up any unwieldy clumps with a spatula. When completely cool, mix in dried peaches and cherries. May be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Makes 11 to 12 cups.

Monique "Nenita  – (June 24, 2010 at 11:45 AM)  

I love your design. My question is did you vacuum seal the jars or closed them regularly?

Leslie  – (June 25, 2010 at 4:11 PM)  

Hi Monique- I closed the jars regularly with the screw-top. I figured guests would eat them quite quickly as opposed to a jelly that would keep for a few months.

Anonymous –   – (July 14, 2010 at 8:37 AM)  

This is great! How many ounces fit into this jar -- and where did you buy them? We are thinking of doing this for wedding favors!

Leslie  – (July 15, 2010 at 7:18 AM)  

I bought the jars at Smart & Final, they are the smallest size. You can probably find them at your local grocery store since it's Summer and that means canning season. I'm not sure the exact amount that fits in the jar, maybe 4 or 6 oz (?), but it's just enough for a bowl of cereal or a couple of handfuls of snack. Good luck!

Julie  – (July 29, 2010 at 7:37 PM)  

Thanks for the wonderful recipe - I'll be making it this weekend for an upcoming joint house warming-baby shower party. It's personal, nutritious, useful - perfect!

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