I am normally not a procrastinator.  Well, that is until the holiday season rolls around.  I put off shopping and buying gifts until the last possible minute.  And, lo and behold . . . hark . . . I did the same thing again this year.  But, on the fly, I came up with a fun and delicious solution.

Step #1:  I went to Ollie's to buy brand new baking dishes for my family members.

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Okay, it's no secret.  I am obsessed with Ollie's (Good Stuff Cheap!).  I bought multiple KitchenAid baking dishes.  By the way, these were originally priced over $50 and I got each one for $14.99.  They're ceramic, sturdy, heavy, bright and colorful.  And they make a very useful gift.

Step #2:  I put on my apron and went to work in the kitchen to make a delicious mac and cheese to put in each baking dish.

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Doesn't that look delicious??!  Well, it is.  And that's what I made for my family members.  They all LOVE a good mac and cheese, so I prepared one for each of them in a take-home, ready-to-bake dish.  Literally, all they have to do is go home, preheat the oven and then bake the dish for about a half hour!  It's ready to eat and is guaranteed to spread Christmas cheer.

Total cost of this gift?  About $25 each.  $15 for the baking dish and roughly $10 for the ingredients for each family-size serving of mac and cheese.  It's that easy!  But the gift is thoughtful, practical and, most of all, delicious.

And while you can really cook anything to go into your dish, I highly recommend this mac and cheese recipe.  It's the epitome of comfort food.

MACARONI AND CHEESE

1 16 ounce box elbow macaroni

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded

1 cup Colby cheese shredded

3 tbsp butter (melted)

2 and 3/4 cups of half & half

1 15-ounce can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese condensed soup

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika smoke or plain

Directions:

Cook elbow macaroni according to directions.  Do NOT overcook.  Simply cook al dente.

Combine the half & half with the cheddar cheese soup and mix until smooth.  Next, sprinkle and mix in paprika and black pepper.  Then, add the cooked macaroni, butter, half the shredded cheese and half of the Colby cheese and mix well.

Pour into your baking dish (I always grease mine with butter).  Top dish with the remaining sharp cheddar and Colby cheeses.

Bake at 350 degrees for roughly 30 minutes (or until bubbly).

So, there you have a it.  A quick, easy and delicious last-minute gift idea.  Try it.  I promise.  It will be a hit for the holidays and is guaranteed to create a very Merry Christmas.