Sometimes the most stressful part of Christmas can be getting gifts for people….who don’t need anything…or really want anything. You know who I’m referring to. In my family, this would be most of the older relatives: parents, grandma, and aunts. At one point I leapt at big ticket items, such as a cappuccino machine, but they could never figure out how to use it. So they re-gifted it to me as a housewarming gift. Now it just sits unused on my shelf. Then, a couple years ago I struck gold with a wrought iron wine rack for my parents and proceeded to purchase nice bottles of wine to fill it for the next few years. Until that got old.
So instead of objects I started gifting experiences. Tickets to the Grand Rapids Symphony (Lord of the Rings night, Picnic Pops package), tickets to a Red Wings game, restaurant gift certificates. But now even that well is running dry.
So here is my new Martha-esque kick: holiday baskets. I completed my first one last Easter and am shifting themes to create a Christmas holiday one for all of the relatives to whom I can gift nothing else.
We started the Easter basket creation by selecting a list of four tasty treats to attempt making: 2 kinds of truffles (sweet and spicy), chocolate dipped pretzels with toffee, and the big hit–lemon basil shortbread.
The truffles were a little…er….messy to say the least. They gave us quite a bit of trouble in maintaining the consistency of the chocolate on the stove and then when it came time to form. We went with your typical semi-sweet version (for a slight bitterness instead of overwhelming milk chocolate) and then used a specialty habanero mango chocolate for the other set. Both were equally well-received; neither were really rave-worthy. And they were supposed to be shaped into little Easter eggs…but came out more along the lines of lumpy clumps. So appetizing! We rolled the spicy ones in powdered sugar to tell them apart.
The shortbread turned out a a bit thin (more like a light wafer version) with a bright pop of citrus. Sooo delicious!
After creating and tasting all of the treats, we wrapped them in cellophane party bags from the wrapping section at Meijer. Then we sealed the bags by twisting the topsand wrapping with pastel colored ribbons. Finally, I added handmade labels to each bag. Basically, I cut tagboard paper down to small rectangles and punched a hole in the upper corner. I easily made a different design for each treat using colored Sharpie markers and basic patterns–lots of dots. That’s my niche in design. Dots. Very creative. Then, you just attach the labels to the ribbons and voila!
I finished the baskets off with a bottle of wine and some gourmet coffee, and the gifts were ready to go! The whole process took just over three hours-mostly fun kitchen time with my girlfriend, then I watched a movie while making the labels. Really not a big deal at all, but family sure thought they were cute and clever. So this week I will be narrowing down a holiday list of items for Christmas baskets and hopefully I can get a few more miles out of this idea…..