Guest Author - T. Lynn Adams
Yes, ‘tis the season for sugar. Plates of cookies, candies, sweet rolls and other gooey delights will certainly move between friends this year. We can almost experience sugar overload this time of year! (Why do you think 'lose weight' tops the list of New Year's resolutions!) Instead of giving family and friends a sugary variation of what they gave you next time you run to the grocery store pick up some fun NEW gift ideas. Get your children involved in selecting, preparing and giving these gifts. Even young children can enjoy preparing some of these ideas. Here they are. Change them anyway you want or create your own holiday food gift ideas.
BREAD. The staple of life, is a wonderful break from sugar. Pick up several varieties of bread: from ryes and pumpernickels to whole grain varieties and ethnic loaves. Wrap them in colorful cellophane and give a loaf to each friend; or slice them and fill several plates with an assortment of great, grainy goodness for several friends. Throw in some homemade herbed butters and maybe a nice butter knife and you’ve got a great gift plate!
And don’t discount the impact of fresh, homemade bread! Include some real butter, maybe some homemade jam, put it on a cutting board (if there is a wood worker in your home you can even make your own cutting boards!), wrap it with a ribbon and your friends may devour the entire loaf in a single night!
FRUITS. Who doesn’t love a basket filled with fresh fruit? But stay away from apples, oranges and bananas. Opt for exotic fruits: a whole pineapple, some star fruit, a pomegranate or two. You might want to include instructions for how to peel, seed or prepare the unusual varieties.
VEGETABLES. Don’t buy those expensive vegetables trays. Make your own! Select fresh heads of broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms…anything you think your friends would like. Spend an evening with your family washing, cutting and arranging your gift on gift plates and include some of your favorite vegetable dip along with a recipe.
DRINKS. Who can resist a bottle of chilled fruit juice, cider, hot cocoa mixes, or even seasonal eggnog? Make it extra special by including some beautiful new glasses or mugs to sip from.
SPECIALTY FOOD. Do you make a great homemade salsa or fresh tamales? Do you have an awesome gyro recipe or make a wonderful cheeseburger soup or clam chowder? Try making and giving some of these specialty foods. They will be received with delight.
CRACKERS AND CHEESE. Select some crackers and any fun variety of hard cheese or a cheese ball or cheese dip, either store-bought or homemade. Place it on a small cutting board (again, if there is a wood worker in your home you can even make your own small cutting boards!) and wrap with a ribbon.
CHIPS AND DIPS. What a fun present for some family to receive…pick up several varieties of chips and some different dips along with a board game, gift certificate for a video or DVD rental, or just include a list of family questions for them to ask each other. They’ll gather around for the treat and enjoy an entire evening together.
HOLIDAY SURPRISE. You know the personality of your friends. Do they like to try new things, foreign cuisine, spicy foods, gourmet treats? Walk through the store and find several new ‘surprise’ treats for them to try. Include these in a basket. If you want, add a gourmet recipe book or a travel book filled with beautiful photos.
DINNER AT HOME. The holidays are hectic and who wouldn’t love dinner in a hurry? If you are a fan of once-a-month cooking you know just how to prepare and freeze a great holiday meal or two for family and friends. Deliver these along with cooking instructions. If you’re busy, you can still give them a great dinner gift. Place a package of spaghetti noodles, a jar of spaghetti sauce, some cheese and a nice loaf of bread in a basket or even a new colander for your busy friends. Or surprise them with a pizza crust (mix or pre-made) and all the toppings. They will have fun making and then eating their pizza together.
BREAKFAST AT HOME. You don’t have to order a breakfast kit from a mail-order place. Make your own to give to friends and family. Add some dried fruit to a basic pancake mix, add a bottle of rich maple syrup or homemade fruit syrup and they’ve got a great breakfast waiting for them. If you want to keep it more simple, give a package of English muffins with some homemade honey butter or tie a bright ribbon around some store-bought bagels and a cream cheese spread. Don’t forget to add some hot coco mix (store-bought or homemade) and they have a great way to wake up during the holiday season.
So, the next time you're at the grocery store, do a bit of Christmas shopping!