Joyful Giving: Baskets full of homemade goodies make the perfect gifts!
Christmas gifts can be stressful! Especially if you find yourself running out of time. I have been asked several times in the past week what I enjoy doing for Christmas gifts, and I’m here to tell you I love putting together food baskets.
Many people would guess that since I cook for a living, it’s obvious why I enjoy giving food as gifts. That is definitely one of the reasons, but it’s certainly not the only reason.
Here are several reasons I enjoy the gift of food:
GRANDMOTHER ALWAYS GAVE FOOD AND LOVE.
I was blessed to grow up with a grandmother who believed taking care of other people was one of life’s great pleasures. She thrived on being helpful, brightening someone’s day, and putting a smile on a stranger or loved one’s face. It was her mission in life.
My grandmother went to our local nursing homes at least three times a week with her “goodie bags.” She would spend days baking bread, making snack mixes, candies, etc. She loved visiting, and she loved taking her grandkids with her. I’ve often told people that I always connect with older people more than children. Well…I was raised around older people. I can still see her today walking into someone’s room, patting them on their hand, and saying, “How are you today?” She genuinely cared and would worry with them, read with them, laugh with them, and cry with them. Of course, at Christmas time, she went all out and made sure that everyone received special treats for the holidays.
My grandmother was named volunteer of the year for the entire state of Kentucky, and when she passed, she was referred to as the “Mother Teresa” of our hometown. She was a very special lady, and I’m forever proud to be her granddaughter. Watching her spend hours in her kitchen, just to make food to give away, had a profound effect on me. Little did I know that later in life, I would grow up to make a living creating recipes and preparing food. Trust me….it took me a while to get here, but I DID GET HERE! Knowing how much joy her goodies brought to people is definitely a reason that I love to give food for the holidays.
MOM MADE SURE THAT FOOD HELD MEMORIES FOR US.
Growing up, Mom made sure that she created memories around food. I’m forever grateful that the traditions she grew up with as a child, she continued with Anne and me. Whether it was our Christmas Jam Cake tradition or my Nannie’s fried bologna sandwich….the nostalgia wrapped up in those moments will stay with me forever. The wonderful thing about creating memories with food is that you can experience them anytime you want. Every time Anne makes our grandmother’s barley casserole, it immediately takes me back to her kitchen. It’s heartwarming. Just like every time I have a fried bologna sandwich, I think of Nannie, and every time I have a BLT, I think of my father. Food memories are so important, and if you haven’t had them in your life, you can start right now!
It’s so easy to create food memories around the holidays. Just start with a favorite cookie or dinner dish. Prepare a new dessert this year. When you serve it, go around the table and let everyone share their favorite Christmas movie or song and why. I guarantee you remember that dessert and moment, and right there…you’ve created a special memory.
Giving the Gift of Food
So, giving food baskets helps create food memories for other people! How special is that? I just love being able to do that for other people…..IT’S EASY! I’ve done several homemade food gift baskets this year, so I thought I would share what I added to them.
You can use any basket, tin, plastic container…..anything that will hold your goodies! I used a round plastic container and just put a few sheets of tissue paper on the bottom. Then I sprinkled a few festive Hershey Kisses around. Can’t forget the coffee mugs or, in this case, “hot chocolate mugs.”
HOT CHOCOLATE GIFT BASKETS
I got these cute little treat baggies at the Dollar Store. I filled one with marshmallows and tucked it in the coffee mug. You can also fill one with peppermint sticks. Peppermint is perfect with hot chocolate. As for the hot chocolate, I included our homemade mix and just put the directions for a “cup of hot chocolate” in the basket.
EASY TIPS FOR MAKING MULTIPLE FOOD BASKETS
You want to make a few recipes that make a lot of goodies, so you can easily just divide them up.
A few recipes I always enjoy adding:
- Rolo Pretzel Turtles (use gluten-free pretzels if you need a GF option)
- Cool Whip Cookies*
- Tea Cakes
- Candied Walnuts/Pecans
- Avalanche Cookies
*If you chose to include the Cool Whip cookies or any cookie rolled in powdered sugar…I highly recommend getting a little cookie container to place them in. The powdered sugar will get all over the treat bags and is not a good look.
I added our magazine to my homemade food gift baskets because it’s the perfect reading material while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate! I always like to include something personal in each basket. For example, for one friend, I included a cute small Christmas cactus because I know she loves plants. Now, every time she sees that cactus, she remembers it was a gift! It certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. I included these cute little ornaments in this basket because I gave it to a friend who is starting a Christmas tree farm.
EASY PERSONAL TOUCHES TO INCLUDE IN YOUR GIFT BASKET:
- Cute vintage candy dish from a thrift store. Tie a ribbon around it and use it to hold homemade bourbon balls!
- Frame an old-timey Christmas card to give the basket an old-fashioned look, and then they get to keep the frame and card for their home.
- Include homemade vanilla for the baker in your life. Lauren from Brownings Homestead recently gave me this gift, and I LOVE IT! She came over, and we made this cake with it…it was fantastic, AND we created a beautiful memory I hope to repeat for many years to come.
- I love to give books that I have read. I always write a cute inscription on the inside cover of the book for the new owner. My grandmother always did this, and I love to see the ones from her collection that were given to her.
Well, I hope this gave you some fun ideas for the next time you decide to give a food basket as a gift. Giving the gift of homemade food is creative, and I’ve always found that people love it!
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