Christmas Baskets: A Personal Gift
Over the years I have been seeking out alternatives to Christmas shopping in the jam-packed malls. I find the hoards of people annoying, the pushing and shoving unnecessary and trying to find a parking spot. Adding to the annoyances is the fact I often have to try to buy all these gifts after having worked a long day, or worse on a Saturday when everybody is doing the same. All these hassles can inevitably make us forget the true meaning of Christmas: friendship, peace, and joy. So after one year too many of experiencing this ritual I decided to do things quite a bit differently.
The plan came to me when I was out looking for a thoughtful gift for a family member one day. It seemed on every aisle I strolled through the store had gift box ideas, which got me to thinking, "Why not take a box and personalize it to my needs?" For example, I had a friend who simply loved to read, so I bought her a novel by her favorite author, put a mug inside with a gourmet jot chocolate tucked in the cup and an aromatic candle by its side. When the costs of each item were added up it only came out to about eleven dollars, and I knew she would be thrilled with the thoughtfulness of my choices. Not only did the items suit her interests, but she also knew I cared enough to spend the time to make her gift just perfect.
It's not uncommon for me to also create "goody baskets" for many of my family members. If you are familiar with making jellies or canning food products then you probably already realize that there are hundreds of recipes that are easy to prepare. Not only is preparing your own food-oriented gifts easy and convenient, but they are also far more delightful to receive than the traditional tie and/or sweater.
Some unique food-oriented gift ideas that you could consider are zucchini pineapple preserves, jalapeño jelly, lavender sugar, chocolate coffee or even something a little more mainstream like spiced tea. Or how about making your own gourmet instant soups? All of these products are extremely original ideas that your loved one wouldn't expect, yet they are also indulgent treats for the tongue. An added benefit is the fact they are extremely easy to make, take very little time to do so, and can even be made months in advance of the busy Christmas season!
If you have a green thumb consider using some fresh vegetables in your backyard garden to create some gourmet treats; the sky is the limit in the direction you can take. You can prepare sauces and condiments such as spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, pickles or relishes.
Vegetables can also make additions to dried herbs; why not try creating some dehydrated tomatoes, bell peppers, squash or onions? Creating these dehydrated treats is as simple as chopping up some finely diced herbs or thinly sliced fruits and/or vegetables, drying them via a store-bought dehydrator, and placing them into zip lock bags once dried. Once bagged, you can place the dehydrated goods into the freezer and store them there until it's time to pack your gift basket.
Dried herbs aren't quite what you had in mind? Every discriminating cook loves fresh herbs, and the great thing about this gift idea is fresh herbs can be grown in virtually any home! Just plant some seeds a couple of months ahead of time in small planting pots, place them under easily-available growing lights, and feed and water them as needed. Chives, parsley, rosemary, and mint are chef favorites, though you'll find there's quite a variety to choose from. Including fresh herbs in your Christmas gift basket will make your basket stand out because no generic store-sold gift baskets can afford to offer fresh herbs. The herbs would shrivel up while sitting in warehouses or store shelves for months! Keeping this gardening theme in mind for just a bit longer, consider stuffing a gift basket with a variety of flower and/or vegetable seeds, bulbs, gardening tools, gloves or even a snazzy garden ornament.
Any gardening fan would be delighted to receive items such as these. For the last ten years, I have been making gift baskets for my siblings and immediate family members, and I can tell you without a doubt they have been a huge hit. Each year they never know exactly what to expect within their "goody basket," which builds their anticipation and makes the Christmas gift tradition extra festive and delightful. The beautiful part of it all is that these gift baskets are not only perfect gifts; they can be packed and prepared as early as August or September! If you are scratching your head wondering what would make the perfect gift for your loved ones this year, or you are dreading fighting the Christmas shopping crowd, then I hope this article has given you some food for thought.