Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gift Giving

Every year at Christmas we are invited to many events.  Most are friends and family, although a few are organizations that meet at Christmastime, too.  I like to plan a small gift from my kitchen to take as a hostess gift for those who are hosting the party. 

Here are some tips I have gathered over the years.  Give a gift where the container does not have to be returned.  If it is a gift from the kitchen, include the recipe so the recipient can make sure there are no ingredients that they are allergic to.  Take the time to make the wrapping special.  Tie, wrap or box up your gift so that it is fun to receive!  I use holiday tea towels to wrap up jars of homemade jellies and salsa.  Not only is it useful, but it the jar breaks, you have a towel to clean it up with!

My grandmother used to bake cinnamon rolls in a cake pan and give the pan as a gift.  I remember her giving muffins the same way.  Mini loaves of bread were wrapped in fabric remnants cut with pinking shears.  My mother made banana bread in small terra cotta pots one year.  We tied them with red Christmas ribbon.

In the past I have given herb infused vinegar, rum cakes and various breads.  This year we have an abundance of herbs so I am debating about giving pesto.  The canning department at Walmart has the cutest little jars with red gingham tops.  With a cute tag, this would be a nice hostess gift!  My favorite pesto recipe is:  basil, parsley, garlic, almonds or pine nuts, toasted, olive oil, parmesan cheese and pepper.  I process the herbs, garlic and nuts until they are a paste, then add olive oil slowly.  I stir in grated cheese and then salt and pepper to taste.  This is good spread on bread.

Dry mixes are popular, too.  I made a few of the "mix in a jar" while they were so popular.  My favorite was the bean soup!  Bob and I like to make a seasoning mix that is basically paprika, garlic powder, celery salt, onion powder, poultry seasoning and a bit of curry powder mixed together.  We give it in a spice jar with a cute label.

In our younger years we gave some alcohol gifts, namely a homemade amaretto and kahlua.  Simply make a simple syrup (equal amounts of sugar and water, boiled until the sugar is melted).  For kahlua, add come instant coffee.  Then add brandy, vodka and flavoring (almond for amaretto) and vanilla (for kahlua).  These are yummy!  We saved our screw cap wine bottles for this purpose!

As you can see, gifts from the kitchen can be fun and economical when made in large batches.  What will be your hostess gift this year?

A hostess gift to me one year... glass block painted with a Christmas scene with lights tucked into it!

Some of my favorite hostess gifts given to me were a poinsettia plant, Christmas sugar cookies, and a bottle of wine!

My daughter and I own a bath products business called Bath Cocktails and we do give bath salts at Christmas time too!

Friday, October 1, 2010

You know the season is near when... get Christmas seals in the mail!  Woo Hoo!  Exciting!

Do you send in a donation?  We typically send in a small one.  We believe in the work of the American Lung Association.  It is still an unsolicited mailing, however!

 When I was little, I used to take the stickers and plaster them all over the gifts.  Sometimes we used them on the Christmas cards.  Once we thought they were stamps, you can imagine what a mess we made!