Make heartfelt, holiday gifts on kitchen table

November 27, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Thanksgiving is over.

The kids are home and the weekend is long.

It's an ideal time for the family to get creative energy flowing and craft some meaningful and cost-effective homemade gifts for holiday giving.

Here are some gifts that my family has enjoyed giving and receiving. I've included some ideas I just can't wait to try.

While I've narrowed down this list to gifts that can be crafted at the kitchen table, there are options for the culinary whiz and for those who don't know a peeler from a whisk.


Whatever project you choose, look for deals on quality ingredients. Don't ever fret that you haven't spent enough money. Celebrate your wise use of money. Your sentiments and personal touch will be of lasting value.


You don't want to give food, but like the idea of kitchen-table creations ...

o My daughter and I gave baskets of homemade bath products last Christmas. We made lip balm using petroleum jelly and essential oils, bath sachets from oatmeal and herbs, and a body scrub based on brown sugar and vanilla oil. This year, we plan to venture into bath salts, using basic ingredients such as Epsom salts, essential oils and food coloring. For recipes, check out a site like

o For a nature lover, make a birdfeeder. Gather some pine cones from the yard. Tie a ribbon on each for hanging. Spread peanut butter generously onto the cones, and roll them in bird seed. Wax paper makes a suitable wrap.

o Family, friends, and teachers alike tell me one of the best gifts they ever received are essence jars or memory jars I've made along with my husband and children.

Each of us writes down our favorite characteristics of the intended recipient and our cherished memories of them on a small, pretty slip of wrapping paper or decorative cardstock. We roll up the slips and put them in a jar, then adorn the jars with ribbons and sometimes candy sticks. It makes a pleasing decoration and a cherished memento.


You enjoy cooking or baking ...

o Why not give the gift of your favorite recipes? Using stationery that reflects your personality, write or stamp "From the kitchen of ..." at the top and pass on five or 10 recipes. Tie the papers loosely with ribbon, or store them in a plastic splash protector.

Embellish the gift after wrapping by tying on a handy kitchen utensil. If the recipient loves your brownies, give a spatula. Your soup? Tie on a ladle. This gift is nice for new cooks, young couples and college students.

o Wrap up any of your favorite concoctions -- maple-roasted nuts, friendship bread, cookies, Chex mix -- in an airtight container and top it with a bow.  

o If you want to venture into the territory of tasty gift-giving with an uncomplicated treat, buy candy canes or candy sticks. Dip them in melted semi-sweet chocolate and let them dry. Wrap them in cellophane with bows to be used as coffee or tea stirrers, and tuck them in a mug.

o For the dog or the dog lover in your life, bake some dog biscuits. Check online at for oatmeal, Parmesan, beef and even peanut butter varieties.


You'd like to give food, but you don't cook ...

o Toss together some homemade granola or trail mix. Visit the bulk food section for low-cost ingredients like raisins, nuts, dried fruit and seeds. You might add some cinnamon, rolled oats or chocolate chips. Have fun and mix to your taste. Dump it into a mason jar and tie on a gift tag with twine.

o Line a large, heavy oven mitt with colored cellophane. Fill it with nuts or gourmet jellybeans, and tie with a bright ribbon.

o For families with children, buy a cookie jar. Fill it with cookie cutters, food coloring, colored sugars and a sugar cookie recipe.

o Buy a few small herb plants. Nestle them together in a pretty basket and include tags with suggested uses for each herb.


Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail

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