I enjoy giving two types of gifts and often I can find at least some of the items necessary to give these types of gifts on discount during post-Christmas sales. The first is the personal gift, which is often representational of the shared history between the recipient and myself. These are the gifts I’ll eventually give to my closest friends and relatives, so I hunt for these items all year long, irrespective of the sale season.
The second type of gift, which I give far more often, are homemade food goodies. These treats are individually wrapped up in bags or boxes then decorated with little touches of festive color to create visual interest. Over the years I’ve made cookies, fudge, chocolate covered pretzels, peppermint bark, and spiced nuts in both salty and sweet varieties. Some of these are shipped to family members in other states, which is why most of my creations are slow-to-perish.
Sending these types of gifts is also cost effective and versatile. I primarily buy my containers cheaply after Christmas and in large quantities — I’ll browse places like The Container Store for any specialty jars I might need in the coming year. Finding recipients for these gifts never seems to be a problem for me. Who would turn down tasty treats in pretty wrapping? This makes them incredibly handy for spreading extra cheer when I unexpectedly want to give a gift.
When the times comes to use the jars or bags or whatever supplies I found on discount after Christmas, I’ll use them throughout they year on one of these treats:
- I’m a fan of the highly addictive Spiced Nuts. Recipes like these are great for adaptation as well, so feel free to make your own substitutions. (And, obviously, don’t give them to anyone who is allergic to nuts.)
- You can also use Martha Stewart’s Spiced Nuts recipe as a base for other flavors. You can mix up the spices to suit your taste, producing nearly infinite variations. You could also grab the biggest mixing bowl you own and whip up a double batch of just the nuts, salt, sugar, and egg whites to create a base-mixture for further seasoning after individually dividing it into additional bowls. This year I have been using almonds with smoked paprika, cumin, and allspice.
- Gingerbread Cookies, Brigadeiros, Golden Rugalach — I like to keep my cookies as small as possible since larger cookies are harder to package. Bigger cookies also break easier than small ones when shipped.
- Vanilla Sugar — This sugar recipe is so simple you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it yet. In my opinion vanilla sugar is best used as a wonderfully easy way to add sweetness and depth to a morning cup of black tea.
- Holiday Pretzel Treats — For the younger gift recipients, these little pretzel treats get devoured thanks to lots of gorgeous color from the M&M candy centers.
I prefer to keep everything handmade when it comes to my non-edible gifts as well. This great list from getrichslowly.org is bursting with inspirational gift ideas to help come up with the perfect personalized present. The craft section on marthastewart.com has a wealth of great ideas too.
What kind of gift giver are you? Is your kitchen a bustling factory of edible treats? I’d love to hear what gift package experiences you’ve had and where you find deals to stock up on gift-giving supplies.