Are you giving away homemade preserves for the holidays? Joel and Dana over at Well Preserved blog have a great contest going called Pimp That Preserve. The rules are simple: submit pictures of your preserves, dressed up for the holidays, for gift-giving, for whimsy. They have some great inspiration posts with various jars wearing sweater remnants and reindeer, buttons & custom labels, cowhide and twine. In addition to some wonderful inspiration for jazzing up your holiday jars, the contest includes a fabulous prize: a signed copy of Ashely English’s Canning & Preserving book (one that is at the top of my Christmas list this year!). To give you even more inspiration, I’m sharing some of my own pimped-out jars below. Scope out the contest, dress up your jars, and try your luck! The contest deadline is 06 December 2010. Good luck!
Often I like to embelish my gifts with a decorative element that is also a gift: an ornament, a kitchen tool, a small toy. Cheese knives are nice for a chutney, condiment spoons for a jam or preserve, and small knives or spreaders for a mustard. Here, Concord grape jam is dressed up with a bell-shaped cookie cutter and a Local Kitchen tag that includes a recipe for jam sandwich cookies.
This jar of watermelon jelly includes a handmade abaca angel ornament with a festive green organdy ribbon. Local church craft fairs are a great place to find inexpensive handmade ornaments. Serrv International has a large selection of handmade, Fair Trade holiday ornaments made by artisans and craftspeople all over the world, many for very reasonable prices.
My extra-spicy 9-chile salsa is dressed up with all natural raffia ribbon, dried pequin chiles from my CSA, and a radioactive label, warning that the salsa is “nuclear hot!” Of course, jazzy handmade labels add a nice touch.
When I lived in Manhattan, I would often dress gifts up with little tchotchkes: glass or wooden beads from Soho street markets, funny little toys from Chelsea or Tribeca shops, tiny bowls or porcelin spoons from Chinatown. Now that I’m up in the boonies, I use a lot of natural elements in my wrapping, because, well – I live in the woods. There are plenty of bittersweet, juniper, pinecones, dried flowers and plants to choose from in my backyard.
These spicy garlic cucumber pickles are simply dressed for Hanukkah with a wide blue velvet ribbon (I purchased several large remnant rolls last January at my local nursery; yards & yards of gorgeous fabric ribbon going for $1 and $2 a roll), silver cord and a couple of spare buttons. Quick & easy, yet still special.
Lastly, I’m all about the Simple Pimp. I do give a lot of gifts, and while I love to wrap, and would love to be able to lavish hours on each one, there simply isn’t enough time in the day. This jar of Indian-Spiced Apple Butter is appropriately attired in a small Indian bag, that I received as a gift bag for some jewelry years ago. I especially like this type of simple, but still lovely, bag: it can be re-used multiple times, passed along from friend to friend, and eliminates the need for disposable, and likely-to-be-disposed-of, paper, bows or ribbons. I also like the idea of stacking two jelly jars on top of each other and wrapping them in a fancy wine bag: not only is it a clever surprise for the recipient, who is expecting a bottle of wine, but it would be quite appropos for my boozier preserves.
What do you do to dress up your preserves for gifting? I’m always on the lookout for clever new ideas: shout ’em out in comments below!