The holidays are a perfect time for cooking and gift making. Since I like to bake and make candies and snacks at Christmas, I often combine them into gift baskets or bags for friends and family. Creating a homemade Christmas basket is an inexpensive way to wish someone a Merry Christmas. It also allows you to express your own unique personality, as the decor of the basket will represent your individual artistic taste. You can tailor each basket to the likes and dislikes of the recipient so that each person who receives a gift gets something customized to his/her tastes.
Several years ago I received a cookbook of traditional English tea cakes. This inspired me to make an assortment of cakes and to combine those into baskets filled with other tea-related items such as candy coated spoons, holiday mugs and of course different types of holiday teas. These items are easy to find and can also be had inexpensively. I picked up the baskets you see below at a "Christmas in July" sale. It's easy to make the gift look impressive, but what everyone really wants is the homemade baked goods inside.
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Over the years I've done a wide variety of gift baskets and other creations like gift towers (stacked boxes tied together with ribbon) and gift bags. I enjoy making them as much as I hope the recipients enjoy receiving them. I have a friend that has even made gift baskets for the pets of his friends and family (lucky dogs!) I was amazed to learn that you can bake dog treats of various kinds in your own kitchen. If you have a fisherman in the family, you can drop by the local sports shop and pick up some lures, hooks, bobbers and other items to add to your own homemade jams, snack foods and other items he/she can take along on a fishing trip. Or just be creative and pick a winter theme such as 'hot toddies' which pretty much everyone loves. This winter I'm making gift sets all done in a snowflake theme that includes hot cocoa mix in penguin mugs, with a bottle of butterscotch schnapps along with a recipe for 'hot scotchies'. I'm also baking butterscotch gingerbread cookies to go along with the package. I've also gathered up other hot drink recipes to that use the schnapps and printed those with the same pattern as the other items. I'm sure it will be a hit.
Whatever you decide to do, share a little love by way of a homemade gift. Whether it's a craft item you've made or something from your kitchen, the effort will be warmly appreciated by the lucky recipient.