I also believe that crafting gifts together with your children sets an excellent example to them - spending loads of money is not always the way - they will also benefit from the positive time spent with you, learning new skills, using their imagination and having fun.
There is really no limit to your options. I have tried to make this list extensive enough so that even if you have no special skills, there will be something here that is within your capability.
Part One: Cooking and baking. You will need an equipped kitchen, ingredients and storage containers, pretty boxes or some way to present your finished product as a gift. If you are preparing something for an individual you know well, attempt something you know is their favorite. Be considerate of people's dietary requirements if possible. It is depressing to be given something that looks delicious but which you know you can't eat. Consider including a list of ingredients (or even the recipe) with the gift, so that those with allergies are aware of what they're eating. Most of my suggestions can be made in bulk so are a good way to cater to many - to give out to the neighbours at Christmas, for example, or your colleagues at work or as party favors.
- Old fashioned pickles, chutneys, conserves and sauces. Sadly, this process is going out of fashion, but people really enjoy receiving home made jams etc. as they taste better than store-bought equivalents and it's a gift that's a little out of the ordinary. This idea is perfect if you also grow your own produce. Keep in mind, before buying ingredients, that you will need glass jars or bottles to store your products. If you collect them in advance, by washing and keeping empties, there will be no need to go out and buy them. Take care to sterilze them correctly and make sure they seal properly. Remove the product labels and replace with your own hand-written labels. Decorate the jars with ribbons. The great part is, you can make these well in advance, they keep for ages. Try these sites for ideas and recipes : Chutney & Pickles, Jams & Conserves, Sauces, Salsa & Condiments.
- Cakes and slices. There are an endless variety of recipes you could choose. Go with classic favorites or your own specialty (if you have one). If the person you are giving to has a favorite kandy bar, do a net search to find a recipe that includes that ingredient (eg. Mars Bar Slice or Toblerone Cheesecake). Once you know what you'll be making, take some time to think about the presentation of your baked goods. How will you make it an attractive gift? Perhaps try cupcakes with the receiver's name iced on top, or create a selection of slices on a small platter that can be re-used, that way the packaging becomes part of the gift. Remember that cakes have a short life span and will need to be kept in appropriate conditions. Sometimes you can freeze them and then ice them at the last minute. Most slices can be frozen also. Browse some simple cake recipes here.
- Sweet or savoury snacks. Put together a mini care package filled with bite-sized confectionery and snacks, gift boxed or wrapped in colored cellophane with curled ribbon. Think apricot, coconut, chocolate or rum balls. These are some of the easiest recipes and are a lot of fun for kids to make - many of them don't require cooking. Take care with items that involve chocolate or copha - they will melt in warm conditions. Here are some confectionery ideas and recipes. If your recipient isn't a sweet tooth, try a savory alternative, such as nuts & bolts.
- Meals. Preparing a meal can be a huge help and appreciated so much more than a card or flowers, particularly for someone who is bereaved, unwell or has a new baby at home. Make enough for a family meal or single serves for someone who lives alone. Take dietary requirements and preferences into account and forget about trying to retrieve your casserole dish after the fact - give a new dish as part of the gift or use disposable containers to save washing up. Choose recipes that can be frozen and re-heated.
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