Make Your Own...

Since I pride myself on being an honorary Christmas Elf, one of the things I love to do is make toys.

Just kidding.

Well, sort of...I do make many of the gifts I give to people. And, it isn't nearly as difficult, or time consuming, as you might be thinking. In fact, I think it is much faster than driving around to different stores, searching for that elusive perfect gift, not to mention a place to park!

I promise it's easy, and I promise you can do it!

I am not sure when exactly I started, but I do remember my grandmother baking little breads and cookies when I was growing up. She used to decorate them with ribbons and bows, and make me take them to all the neighbors. It was just a thoughtful thing she used to do.

My own version of this has evolved somewhat over the years, and yours can as well. To give you an example, the very first Christmas I spent with my in-laws, I made a gift basket for my mother-in-law. Since we were also meeting for the first time, I had absolutely no clue what her likes/dislikes were or what kind of taste she had. I suppose I could have deferred to my then boyfriend's advice, but to be honest I didn't really trust him all that much. And, even though now we are married, I still don't. In fact, I think I might trust him a little less now that I know him so well. I'M KIDDING!!!

But back to my story...

I decided I could at least make her gift a personal and thoughtful one. And, since I didn't know her, that would have to mean letting her know about me. I am from New England, and they live in Florida. So, the I got a cranberry colored basket and filled it with all things New England - Vermont maple syrup, Maine blueberry pancake mix, maple sugar candy, salt water taffy, apple butter, preserves, Boston baked beans (the candy kind), etc etc.

It turned out so well...that I started doing it every year for at least 1 person on my list. And, I think its especially good for "couples" gifts since you may not know one as well as the other, and its so much more personal than gift cards.

A breakfast basket is one of my favorites! You can fill it with lots regular and inexpensive things, like...pancake mix, syrup, English muffins, jams, a spatula, etc. Just arrange everything in a pretty mixing bowl, wrap it up with cellophane and ribbon, and Christmas morning it taken care of!

And, why stop at breakfast? Any cuisine can theme a "basket" check out a bargain book section for cookbooks and run with it! Last year I gave 2 people a "soup and sanwhich basket" with soup and sandwhich cookbooks, some cute Christmas soup bowls, and a couple of cans of Campbell's Soup. Perfect for a chilly day lunch!

Another thing to keep in mind is that is doesn't have to be limited to Christmas.

My grandmother's friend Beverly had a heart attack over the summer, and was down for several weeks. My grandmother mentioned to me that she was going to send flowers, which is always a nice gesture, but why not something a tad more useful? I gave my grandmother the idea of making up a basket with some teabags, crossword puzzle books, magazines, books, cookies. After all, they sell clear cellophane too! She decorated it up with bright colored ribbons and bows, added a get well card, and spent a whole lot less than some flowers would have cost!
And, I know it was appreciated while Bev was recouperateing!

So, get creative! And keep in mind that literally any theme can be made into a little basket!

Let me know if you need any help!

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