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BellaOnline's Wine Editor

Holiday Gift Giving for Less - A Lot Less!

I know people this year are looking for ways of gift giving doing the same they have done in past holiday seasons like 2007 or 2006 for less - a lot less. You might be in that category. There is a phrase that goes, "Doing more with less" and at no time in my recent recollection is that more appropriate than it is right now.

In that vein you might want to give gifts this year that are homemade, fun, don't cost a lot to put together and are easy to make. Here is an idea for you.

Give a really nice wine basket. The nice thing about a wine basket is that you can give everyone on your list a wine basket and when people compare what you gave them with other people on your list (like they always do), they will all say they got the same thing. Granted it is not a gift for your twelve year old nephew or your ten year old grandchild, but you could do a variation of the wine basket for this age group by substituting wine for other goods that are suitable for children; chocolate, fancy homemade cookies, dried fruit, fresh fruit, etc. The baskets for young and old can be wrapped or not depending on how you feel and your budget.

The first thing you will need is a basket. Don't limit your focus on what you would consider to be regular baskets made of wicker or straw. Think outside the box. I saw a small wooden box that formerly contained wine, at my wine retailer, that they were putting out in the trash. I asked if I could take it and recycle it and they said yes. They asked if I could recycle more than one wooden box - they had several out in back of the store. What do you suppose I said? They pay more for their trash pickup that contains wood and I was saving them money. I jokingly said I should get a discount on my wine for saving them money and when I checked out, I got a discount. Surprise!!

A more upscale basket idea might be an ice bucket. Depending on the size of the bucket, you might be able to fit only one bottle or maybe two. But this "wine basket" has a life and a purpose after the wine is gone.

Most craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby have baskets of all kinds. If an entire family is going to get gift or wine baskets for each member, consider plastic pails. These can be purchased all in the same color and different sizes for different ages of the family members, and since the pails have a handle, they are easy to carry from the car to the house.

You will also need basket filler, wrap, ribbons and bows, enclosure cards, wrapping paper, decorations and the items you are putting in the basket as gifts.

When considering basket filler be careful of using newspaper as the ink could rub off and might be toxic. Don't forget about fabric as filler since you could put in tea towels or place mats. You could use a set of cloth napkins to line the basket too.

The items being given could follow a theme, like all Italian wine, all Californian white or red. Imported rosé, I think you get the idea. Also consider coasters and cork screws to include and they can be used as filler to cushion the bottles from banging together.

I mentioned a basket for the kids. These baskets could be filled with washable paints and markers, coloring books, small toys, Silly putty, play dough, pencils, pencil toppers, bubbles with bubble wand, fake body tattoos that wash or peel off, etc.

For the "older folks" consider a wicker basket with cheese wedges, specialty crackers, a cheese slicer, small wooden or plastic cheese board, a copy of the latest Wine Spectator magazine, or a gift certificate to local liquor store. It's a nice idea to line the basket with a tea towel with a wine theme.

You do not need to go overboard when filling the basket. You can get two bottles of wine for under $10 for the pair. Canyon Oaks winery has a Cabernet, Zinfandel and a Merlot and cost $4.99 each. I wrote about Canyon Oaks in a previous article Hey Jim, what’s in YOUR cellar? The wooden crate I got was free. My wine retailer downtown has gift baskets all made up starting at $25, so you just do the same and pocket the profit.

Let me know how things are going with you, O.K.? My next article will be out soon.

Share tips, advice, and opinions with fellow wine aficionados on the Bella Online Wine Forum.

Jim Fortune, The BellaOnline Wine Guy

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