Gifts From Your Kitchen

When you take the time to give a gift created in your kitchen, you give a piece of your heart.

By FamilyTime


Before you get caught up in the shopping frenzy, think about making gifts this year. These are especially nice for teachers, neighbors, shut-ins, and those friends who "have everything."

You can bake Christmas cookies, coffee cakes, quick breads, or pound cake, or make several batches of fudge or another easy candy. Jams, jellies, chutneys, and sauces are also good ideas. Flavored vinegars and olive oils work well, too.

Everyone will appreciate your thoughtfulness and you will enjoy the time you spend in the warm, fragrant kitchen.

Decide What to Make
Make what you like to eat and feel confident making. Stay away from complicated candies or elaborate cakes unless you feel sure you can master them.

Creating gifts in your kitchen should be a pleasant experience for you. Know your time limitations and abilities to avoid frustration.

Stock Up!
Once you decide on what to make, think about how you will present it. Do you need glass bottles, jars, cardboard boxes, or festive tins? If so, buy these before buying anything else.

This way, if you can't find the right containers, you can change the idea. That's a lot easier than making a batch of cranberry chutney or chocolate truffles and then not having the right-sized jars or boxes.

Buy a few extras if you can. This way, if you think of someone to add to your list, you have the supplies. It's also a good idea to make a more than you need for last-minute presents.

Buy ribbon, colorful plastic wrap, tissue paper, and anything else you think you will need to make the gifts pretty and festive. These supplies never go out of style, so if you have extra, you will use it eventually.

Grocery Shop
Make a comprehensive list. If you are baking, don't assume you have baking powder or soda, vanilla extract, or eggs. Make note of your staples before you go shopping.

Stock up on flour, sugar, brown sugar, nuts, chocolate (buy the right kind!), and other items. If you're making jams and jellies, make sure you have pectin or wax, if needed.

Check the pan sizes required. If you must, supplement them with disposable bakeware.

Buy parchment and wax paper, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap. Don't forget cooking spray, if you will need it for greasing pans.

Take the list with you to the market. Allow yourself plenty of time to shop. You may have to visit more than one store or poke around in specialty shops. Buying ingredients and other supplies should be a pleasurable experience for you.

Presentation Counts
Half the fun of giving gifts from our kitchens is making them pretty. Begin with decorative tins and boxes, cellophane bags, or other gift containers. Stationery stores and party shops are filled with wonderful ideas.

Line these with white, blue, red, green, gold, or silver tissue paper. Tie them with curling ribbon or wide satin ribbon. Top with bows and other package decorations such as gold or silver stars or snowflakes, happy Santas, snowmen, or pinecones.

Put candy in colorful foil cups or wrap it with plastic wrap. Twist the plastic wrap into strands and then fluff the ends to dress up a package.

Think about other ways to present gifts. Mound chocolate truffles in coffee mugs, give a coffee cake on a holiday serving plate that is part of the gift, tie wooden salad tossers to a bottle of herbed olive oil, or include a cookie cutter with a batch of cookies.

If the food you give has storing or heating instructions, be sure to write them clearly on a gift card and attach it.

A Gift of Love
Remember, when you make gifts from the kitchen you are giving your time, affection, and thoughtfulness. The amount of money you spend is far less important than the effort you make.

Truly, these are gifts where it's the "thought that counts." And the satisfaction you get is hard to measure.

Happy holidays!