As the only females working in a predominately male office (yes, it’s mostly men here at the Weekender), we knew we’d have a big “obligation” chocolate gift-giving duty this Valentine’s Day.
By Sami Kawahara
If you’re not already familiar with this tradition in Japan, it may seem odd that women are not only the ones giving the chocolate this holiday, but they are also expected to give chocolate to men whom they’re in entirely platonic relationships with, including co-workers, bosses and male friends. This “obligation” chocolate is called Giri Choco (chocolate given to your significant other is called Honmei Choco.)
Preferring not to break the bank to supply these hungry men with their Giri Choco, yet feeling like they deserved a little more than a fami-ma conbini gift, we decided to get creative. Here are a few budget-friendly, healthier, DIY options that will surely say “I appreciate you,” while also communicating that you are thoroughly looking forward to White Day next month.
A quick trip to the 100-yen shop and the Loft in Shibuya brought in these supplies:
Loft has an overwhelming supply of Valentine’s Day craft material, which could easily add up if you tend to get carried away like we do. So we advise to go with a list in hand so you can get in and out without temporarily feeling the need to buy everything.
Heart-Shaped Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
With strawberries in season and in abundance around town, this seemed like the perfect creative and economical choice.
First, cut the tops off the strawberries, cut them in half, then bind them together with kebab sticks.
Melt the chocolate…
Meanwhile, create the ties for your gift wrap by combining vinyl ties with washi tape on both sides.
Then dip the strawberries in the melted chocolate, cover with sprinkles, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Once the chocolate has hardened, carefully pull the sticks out, and there you have your heart-shaped strawberries!
You can wrap them in the plastic bags tied with the washi tape ties.
Chocolate Chip Muffins
The next option is healthy chocolate chip muffins packed in jars. Use any muffin recipe, but we decided to go Paleo to help keep our boys in shape!
We used this recipe and needed these ingredients: Butter, almond flour, 1 egg, vanilla, baking soda, chocolate chips, coconut sugar, honey.
First, we started by decorating the gift tags with hearts and washi tape. We know how excited they will be about this part…
Then tie the gift tags with baker’s string.
Here are our ingredients for the muffins. Almond flour, coconut sugar, and coconut flour can be found at certain stores around Tokyo, but we find it easier to order most of the products on iherb.com
Three kinds of chocolate to fill the jars with:
Fill up the jars with the chocolate mix and a couple mini muffins, and your giri choco is complete!
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
Use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but we decided to continue with the Paleo theme with a recipe you can find here.
Using 1 egg, coconut flour, almond flour, chocolate chips, vanilla, baking soda, salt, coconut sugar, maple syrup. Once you’ve mixed the ingredients together, refrigerate for 20 mins to keep the dough firm.
Roll the dough into a ball, flatten it, and use the cookie cutter to create a heart-shaped cookie.
Paleo cookies complete in 12 minutes!
For the gift tags, we created our own design and printed them on sticker paper that we stuck onto the cut paper.
We wrapped the cookies in the paper bags, finished with the baker’s string and gift tags.
3 Giri Choco Options
With a national holiday a few days before Valentine’s Day, it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative and score a few extra points with the men of the office. And also pay it forward before our day on March 14th!