I give a lot of gifts. It’s hard to say that without sounding “Yay, me!” but, honestly, I enjoy it; I’m one of those people who never shows up at your house without something in hand, who (usually) remembers birthdays & anniversarys, and who lives for Christmas. Before my canning days (when I also had a steady income) my gifts were more traditional: wine, truffles or dessert as a hostess gift; adorable baby clothes for a new baby or a shower; books, CDs, or movies for random celebratory moments. Now that I have a garage full of canned goods (and not very much money), I give away a lot of preserves. Sometimes this is as simple as handing over a jar of jam; at other times, I like to dress it up a bit. Especially as the holidays approach, I decided to chronicle some of my gift ideas here, so I could share ideas, design tips, good sites for supplies & accessories, and hopefully pick up some great ideas from you, the community of awesome readers.
I should note that homemade gifts are not for everyone: prevailing wisdom states that homemade gifts are always more special, and “who doesn’t love a jar of homemade jam?” While I do believe that this is true, for the most part, there is always the exception that proves the rule. I’ve handed over quite a few jars over the past few years, and have seen that blank look, with the resulting “Um, jam. Wow. Thanks.” (It reminds me of a great scene between Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in the old classic Holiday Inn. Bing comes back to visit the old show-biz gang after quitting to ‘relax’ on a farm in the Connecticut countryside. He brings his homemade peach put-ups as a gift. Fred Astaire says “Wow. Peaches. I love these with…uh…er… well, most anything!” The jars then promptly explode, spraying peaches everywhere. Classic.) Not everyone gets how much time, effort and love went into that little jar in your hands. For those people who do get it, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better gift.
The gift pictured above was in celebration of the newest member of the Molitoris clan: Tai’s boss at Alpine Endeavors and his wife just had their second child, a boy they named Miles. While I love adorable onesies as much as the next girl, I sometimes feel for the parents: sleep-deprived, physically & emotionally exhausted, they are buried in an avalanche of onesies & stuffed animals, when what they could kill for is 10 minutes of free time to take a shower and a really good cup of coffee. So, I’ve offered up the next best thing (I hope): delicious (if I do say so myself) homemade food that is quick and easy to eat, yet satisfying and nutritious. Packed into a handwoven grass tray (which can later hold a plethora of adorable onesies!) are:
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Apple Rhubarb Chutney with Fennel & Cardamom
- Mini Zucchini Bread
- Pumpkin Granola
Each of these is shelf-stable for several days, with the exception of the soup, which I froze (and included instructions to freeze or refrigerate upon receipt). I played upon the autumn theme with the colors of the jar labels and tags, packed the granola into a clear cellophane favor bag, wrapped the bread in a strip of beautiful handmade lotka paper and liberally festooned everything with raffia. Although there are nuts in the granola, I swapped walnuts in the zucchini bread for dried apples and chocolate, as many pregnant or breast-feeding moms will avoid nuts, in an attempt to avoid a nut allergy in the child later on. It’s also a good idea to make the soup with vegetable stock in case anyone in the family is a vegetarian. I always include a full list of the ingredients as people do have allergies and food rules that they live by (and, as we all know: I’m all about the data.).
So what about you? Do you give food gifts? Enjoy receiving them (or not so much)? For those of you who have gotten not-so-exciting food gifts in the past, any suggestions for those of us who do like to give gifts of food? I’d love to hear your ideas.