Archive for the ‘Gift Baskets’ Category

Gift Basket Goodies

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Gift baskets are a traditional holiday gift in our home, and each year you’ll find us decorating boxes and filling them with all sorts of tasty goodies. 

We usually start with the more traditional homemade food gifts of Christmas cookies like these yummy Sugar Crusted Ginger Chewies at Joy the Baker, and seasonal quick breads like this Spiced Pumpkin Bread at momadvice. We include only two of these ‘eat now’ foods because we’ve found that many people already have lots of food around the holidays and appreciate foods that can be saved for another time.   Although if you know someone who doesn’t have the opportunity to bake, then certainly load them up with treats they can use right away.

So what types of foods will last till after the holidays? 

Food mixes that you put together in a jar are very popular.  You can find mixes for brownies, cookies, soups and even main course meals by searching on the web for ‘gifts in a jar’.  Our friend’s favorite food is always Beef Stroganoff mix in a jar.  Our family and friends look forward to just that each year.  It’s such a hit that we keep some on hand to give throughout the year for people who may be ill or just had a baby and need a simple, good meal that they can make quickly.  And after all that tasty food everyone will be thirsty, so add in drink mixes like hot cocoa  and chai tea  that can be packaged prettily and put in your basket.

 Jams, jellies and any home canned items like applesauce or peaches make a nice addition to your basket and can be eaten anytime during the year.  Also you can make herb blends and put them in a nice container, there’s salt substitute seasoning blends, as well as a seasoning blends for chicken, fish or barbeque depending on what the recipient likes to eat. You can find some great mixes at simplemom  or google on spice blends or seasoning blends to find even more great ideas.

So now you’ve got your mix ideas ready to go, but you’re thinking great mixes but how do I put them in a jar and make them look pretty enough for gift giving then look no further than budget101 for some creative ideas on dressing up your jars.

Need more food for your basket?  Sure!  Nothing is more appreciated then food.  (or is that just me.)  Homemade snack mixes packaged in small decorated boxes or bags.  Homemade candies that are wrapped and made oh so special, like these super simple cake balls and chocolate covered marshmallows.

Next we personalize each basket with a few bought goodies that we know the gift getter would like. Watch for great sales on items like tea bags, and get a favorite flavor like blueberry or orange, or  find hot cocoa or coffee in gourmet flavors onsale.  Pringles chips or goldfish crackers come in lots of flavors are great on sale and keep well.  You get the idea.



Finally we add a personal touch by buying or making a small something or two that we know the person really likes and may not treat themselves to very often. A favorite specialty candy bar, or unique hot sauce, a luxurious bubble bath or body lotion for the tired mom or some homemade stationery for a grandma who writes a lot of notes to family.
One final tip.  We’ve found that with all the fun of digging through a gift basket to see what goodies lay inside, everyone still likes the mystery of an item wrapped.  To meet this ‘need’ we wrap one or two of the specialty items and have them peeking out the top. 

Just think outside the box (and put it in the box) and personalize the ‘baskets’ to each individual or family and watch the excitement as they see what goodie they find next in their own special Homemade Gift ‘Basket’.

Homemade Gift Baskets

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

If you’re trying to save money this gift giving season then start thinking gift baskets.   They’re a great gift for a family, a couple or an individual and can be made very personal and inexpensive too. 


We’ve been doing this every year for about 10 years for the relatives who already have everything they need (or we just don’t know what to get them) so we’ve come to discover what is most appreciated.

Since gift baskets can be so unique and filled with many different things (we try to stick to mostly homemade items), I’ll just cover the basics of preparing the boxes for the goodies today and go into details of some items you can put in them in future posts.

First, to save money we skip the baskets and dress up a few cardboard boxes in the sizes we’ll need.  The boxes can be decorated in lots of different ways and can become the best dressed gift under the tree.  We’ve decorated our boxes a number of different ways over the years, depending on what I had on hand, and how much time I had to work with. Here’s a few you can try.

Use white or brown craft  paper and then hot glue on holiday embellishments like pinecones, and real pine branches and small ornaments and stuff. They always look homey and festive.

Have some old white sheets or old worn Christmas table cloths.  Cut them up and line the boxes with them and allow the fabric to flow over the edge.  Add a ribbon bow and you’re done with the ‘basket’.

Have bored kids?  Then here are two great ideas.  They’ll have fun and be so proud.

Give them some acrylic paints and let them paint solid colors or designs on the boxes.  A blue box with white paper snowflakes glued on is pretty, or try basic red and green.  (just be sure to let the green dry before you start the red….red and green mixed make brown).

Or, give them modge podge.  Or mix elmers glue and water to a thin consistency.  Then they can apply wrapping paper scraps, construction paper or tissue paper to make very colorful boxes.

For the goodies, we have put in everything from quick breads and cookies to homemade candies, jams, food mixes and a few bought packaged food items (flavored teas, coffees, hot cocoas, etc.) we got on sale. 


Just think outside the box and personalize the box to each individual or family and watch as everyone digs through your gifts excited to see what they find next in their special Homemade Gift ‘Basket’. 


Check back next week for details on some goodies to include in your baskets.