“ Kitchen Confidence 101”
By Sandra Reames, Carefree Catering, Branson, MO
The Perfect Gift is Right in Front of YOU!
This year with Thanksgiving coming so late, the weather, Christmas is
coming to early at least to fast.
All shopping has become last minute, unless you finished by Halloween.
Me I just finished putting my families Christmas Dinner plans together, not all of the people have been invited, as yet. We are having ours on the Saturday before Christmas since so many are not off in the middle of the week, this year.
Years ago I put gift baskets together professionally. The ones that I created had good stuff in them. When I look at what the stores are offering I am disappointed at what they are selling. They have a good look , but when you open them up they are really a disappointed and that is the way the gift receiver is going to feel, as they dig through paper and cardboard.
Many times buying for a business the pre-made baskets work pretty well,
because you don't know them personally. I still want you to take note on what you are buying and ask what exactly is in that basket. Unless you have more extra money than I do.
Lets Get Ready to Make Our own:
The main Things about making a gift basket for a Christmas present:
There is a fine line sometimes, in making sure that your basket doesn't look like a basket for a family that is in need. That sounds tacky but I only know how to tell you the truth. (In fact we could do better on the families in need baskets)
Or that you through a bunch of stuff together. Use a theme!
This basket is to be fun and interesting with the recipient in mind.
First consider the person, their interest, their needs or no needs:
Professional person who never has time to shop.
Or Grandma and Grandpa
or teenagers in college
or the Great Aunt that never gets what she wants.
or Mom and Dad
Some who is Gluten Free
Some Who loves Breakfast, but can't stand eggs.
The everybody basket
This List is Endless:
Up front what you do is put a budget to each persons or person.
You can do some baskets for $20.00 to $$$$$$$$.
Making a basket does take some shopping and thought, but I have faith in you.
So less consider paring up these baskets with the possible recipients.
- The foodie basket, is what a lot of our baskets that are on the market are now. Many of the products are not up to par or just filler.
Using products from the grocery stores are fine. Use the smaller or individual sizes, this basket is to have some of the old and some of the new.
Pancake Basket: Add small bags of pancake mix you know the ones, add as many different ones as your budget allows. Go to the syrup isle and put in those different ones or even go to a specialty store for the mixes & syrups.
ones that no one ever buys, because we buy the same one all the time.
You could add their favorite coffee or tea. I have seen some of the cutest spatulas and cooking forks on the market. Stick them out of the top of the foods to give height to the basket.
We will talk about putting these items in the basket latter.
- What about a coffee sampler. They have some great little personal size coffees out on the market now, it may take you several stores to find them, but they are there. As I said when money and time get tight, we don't try different things, so that is what a basket is all about. Don't forget to add a big bag of what they like, that shows that you were thinking about them and not someone else.
3. Tea Basket, Do the same things. This is where you can really show off.
In recent months I have seen some paper covered boxes. They are just general purpose boxes. If you have a hot tea drinker, you have a whole world to choose from.
Use the box instead of a basket, you can for any of these baskets, but they are really great for storing the tea that you give them.
If you buy the teas that each bag comes wrapped separately, take them out of the box and design the inside of the box with cardboard dividers.
Don't forget to add a loose tea and the metal tea ball or tea pot that it takes to make it.
- A Junk food Basket or called a Snack Bag.
I have a picture of one of these below. This is a much larger basket than it appears in the photo, but it will give you a general idea. Now my husband would love this one, because it is mostly salty snacks.
- So know if your person likes salt or sugar or add both.
PS. You know yourself, if they are a junk food eaters there is not chance that you are cleaning up there eating habits at Christmas.
- You have a obsessive dieterdon't give a food basket.
Pick something like candles, lavender, coffee, teas, etc.
- Old fashioned game basketor make sure that you add a small game to each one, one to each basket that you make.
- Teenager in college or that widower, that you know well, mix in socks and underwear, because they don't buy them for their selves and they may not wash as often as they should. They can never have to many. Mix them in with some easy prepared food or convenience foods or do an underwear only basket, put them on stems like flowers or hide them in pretty boxes inside the basket.
- Spicy Guy Basket: A Mexican dinner or a basket of hot sauces with canned Jalapenos, different mustards, horseradish, Chinese horseradish, etc.
- Vegan, Vegetarians: Fruit Baskets are good, know how
- Diabetics can use a basket, but make sure the fruit is low sugar, such as apples, few oranges and grapes. What I think would be fun is for you to choose at least 5 different apples from the grocery, make sure they are marked with the new names. I can't even keep up the different flavors on all of the new varieties.
There are endless dull items that can be put into great baskets. We have so many discount stores and $ stores, you can do it on a budget. Don't forget that pretty print napkins, cooking tools, colored hay, a small personnel gift all to brighten up the basket. If you put in a candle or scent, make sure that the people you are giving it too, want it or can handle it in the house. Candles are not as popular as they once were.
Making your basket look good,
- If you can buy a basket or box that they might want to keep around and use is a plus. If not buy one that fits what you want to put in it.
- If you put in your items and they are laying flat, that is the way the finished basket will look. Take shipping peanuts or shipping bubbles or waded up news paper and put in the bottom of the basket and lift the contents up to just below the rim.
- Do a dry run and place things in the basket several different ways to see what looks best.
- Some need to be high and some low.
- Use colored or clear cellophane to wrap it like an Easter basket and tie with a great bow.
- Add a note saying that you were thinking about them, the basket will prove it.
After all of this some recipients, may look at it right then and say o thanks and walk away. Don't worry when every one is gone they are going to complain and then finally get into it. These are usually the guys that seem to have a hard time accepting gifts. So be patient with them, they will enjoy it when no one is watching.
You can listen to Sandra Reames and Scott MC Caulley on the radio every Tuesday Morning on KOMC AM 1220 at 10:06. We hope that you will listen and call in to help others and to share your experiences, good and bad!
Sandra is the owner of Carefree Catering; she is a professional caterer in the Branson Area Her phone number is 417-335-5655. She and KRZK radio have teamed up to present to you the show
“Kitchen Confidence 101” in The Ask the Expert Series on KOMC AM. The articles and show are to help you find confidence in the kitchen where you can provided good tasting and "better for you" meals to your family and friends even if you are an accomplished cook or a beginner, we all share those moments when we need help!
Any comments or information can be e-mailed to Sandra
Remember you can listen on line anytime!