Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Last Minute Handmade Gifts: Food!

I know that the idea of giving food as a holiday gift may seem a bit anti-climactic after spending weeks talking about knitting and sewing and glass-engraving projects, but never underestimate the value of appealing to the stomach.  My husband, for instance, maintains every year that his favorite gift is a Honey Baked Ham and some summer sausage.  And apart from the dreaded fruit cake, holiday treats are universally well-received, quick to make, and fun to package--all qualities for perfect last-minute gifting.

So whip up some of your favorite childhood cookies and pass on the memories to another family.  Mine, of course, are the peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies (I've already made a batch this year), and these fabulous chocolate-butterscotch hard candies my dad is famous for (well, famous at least in our family).  See this article from Country Living for more great ideas!

Or, consider making some of those nifty "cookie in a jar" gifts that are so popular in the stores these days.  All layered in glass, the ingredients make a nice display, and if you make them yourself you'll save your friends from those artificial preservatives found in the store-bought varieties.  Just don't forget to include the baking instructions!

Or maybe you know some moms with infants this year, and want to give them something they'll really use: a nice dinner and a night off from cooking!  Make your favorite casserole or soup, put it in a nice ceramic dish or bowl, and gift the whole thing.  note: go the extra mile and present the gift frozen with thawing/reheating instructions for extra flexibility.

Concerned that these gift ideas all seem to add on the pounds?  Try gifting nuts and dried fruit as a healthy alternative.  I love to see decorative canisters filled with lots of color from handmade trail mixes and mixed nuts.  In fact, I have three sitting on my kitchen counter now, and they look so pretty all lined up in a row!  Plus they've been keeping me contentedly away from the Dutch butter cookies in my pantry (okay, so maybe not entirely...damn those buttery delights!).

Of course, the key to a good food gift is the packaging.  I liked December's Real Simple suggestions for dressing up nut canisters (beware of nut allergies, though!), cookie tins (ahem...I suppose I'll be coming into one of those soon), and Mason jars into stylish wrapping.  Or hit the local thrift store and wander through the housewares aisles--they are sure to be full of cast-away canisters.  If you're really motivated, you could craft some fabric sleeves or imprint designs on them (like the ideas from ReMake. ReStyle. ReUse), but no pressure.

Well, all of this writing about food is making me hungry, so I'm off.  Join me tomorrow for more on Handmade Holidays!
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