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Cheat Sheet

Gifts from the Kitchen For Dummies

If you enjoy giving out special food gifts, keep your kitchen stocked with a variety of ingredients. Need an idea for a food gift? Look over some of these delicious and easy recipes. Be sure to pack up your gift so it travels well and arrives in one piece, and check out some etiquette rules about handing over your homemade food gift.

Pantry Supplies for Last-Minute Food Gifts

Besides the basics like sugar, flour, butter and eggs, having the following list of ingredients on-hand enables you to make many last minute food gifts. Most of the ingredients will keep for a long time so stock your pantry with these things:

  • Cheeses - parmesan, cheddar

  • Nuts - walnuts, pecans, and almonds are most useful

  • Instant espresso coffee

  • Raisins and other dried fruits, including dried pineapple

  • Candied ginger

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Light corn syrup

  • Sugar cubes

  • Cream of tartar

  • Cornmeal

  • Gelatin

  • Cornstarch

Food Gift Ideas

You can make someone feel special anytime of the year with a homemade food gift. Try the following recipes (just click on the link!) for a scrumptious gift from your kitchen:

How to Package a Food Gift

After you’ve spent the time to make a delicious gift from your kitchen, take some packaging precautions before sending it. Keep in mind you can never have too much protection when you pack your food gifts:

  • The first layer of wrapping should be around the food itself. Make sure that it is sealed for freshness, particularly if you aren’t using an airtight container.

  • Place sheets of wax paper between layers of cookies or candies. You can also help prevent shifting in the box by placing one final layer of wax paper on top of the food. Then loosely wad tissue paper and place it on top. Use just enough to assert a little pressure, not enough to mash down the food. Close the lid gently.

  • Decorative tins are good choices for shipping because, in addition to being air tight, they’re rigid.

  • Double up on boxes. After you place your gift in a sturdy gift box, fit that into a bigger, rigid, corrugated shipping box. Leave plenty of room on all four sides, as well as the top and bottom of the box to add protective buffers. Use material that’s available — crumpled newspaper, recycled packing peanuts — but don’t skimp. Use plenty of filler in between the two boxes.

  • If you choose to send a jar or bottle, wrap a few extra layers of bubble wrap around it before you proceed with the packing.

  • Put a card with the recipient’s address on the inside of the box . . . just in case.

  • Enclose a little note with the name of the gift and, if appropriate, how to enjoy it.

  • Seal the package with a strong packing tape, not regular adhesive tape.

  • Put a strip of clear packing tape over the address on the outside of the box to keep the address from smearing.

  • Clearly mark it “Fragile” or “Handle with Care.”

Gift-Giving Etiquette Reminders

As you were growing up, no doubt you tried to pay attention when your parents were teaching you about manners. Just in case you may have forgotten, keep these things in mind before you happily show up at someone’s door with an armful of gifts from your kitchen:

  • The recipient of your food gift is not obliged to serve it immediately. Your splendid creation may not fit the menu or the moment, but that does not make it any less thoughtful.

  • When taking food to a large gathering, put a gift tag on your contribution. A thoughtful host will want to know who brought what.

  • If you don’t know the food preferences or food allergies of a gift recipient, you may want to include the ingredients on the label.

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