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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Canning, Preserving and Dehydrating / ~ Gifts From The Heart; Expressions of Love ~
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    ~ Gifts From The Heart; Expressions of Love ~

    Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next Page >>
    Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:59 pm
    Forum Host

    Giving is what makes the midwinter holidays such a heartwarming season. So much time and care is spent selecting the "perfect" gift for those on our list that it can be expensive and stressful. You can save money and reduce the stress of rushing around overcrowded malls looking for the perfect gift by giving easy-to-make homemade gifts in a jar. Homemade gifts from the comfort of your kitchen will stretch your holiday budget. They contain inexpensive ingredients and are simple to make. They can easily be made ahead of time, and, when given early, they can be enjoyed and shared during the holiday season. Gifts from the heart don't have to take very much time at all and are a wonderful expression of your own love, imagination and creativity. The possibilities are endless!

    Prepare and give festive preserves, relishes, syrups or sauces. Assemble baking mixes or assorted beans and seasonings for soup in jazzy, beribboned pint or quart canning jars to make great gifts for family or coworkers, or you could bake breads or cakes in the jars. All text in green are clickable links.


    A thoughtful present is always appreciated, especially one that has a personal touch. There are hundreds of possibilities to choose from to please anyone on your holiday list. And be sure to think about the recipient when making your gifts: do they enjoy baking or would they prefer a food gift that's ready to eat? Are they on a special diet or do they have food allergies? A basket can be made to suit the dietary restrictions of the recipient, such as diabetic, vegan, vegetarian, or gluten intolerance. This kind of thoughtful touch is what makes these gifts so special.

    Necessary Supplies:
    Empty Glass Jars with lids
    Recipe (please see suggestions below)
    Gift Tag or Card Stock (I like to recycle old Christmas cards for the tags)
    Funnel or Coffee Filter
    Ribbon, yarn, twine, cord or raffia
    Hole Punch

    Recycle jars/lids for dry mixes or snacks, granolas, cookies and personal care products to save money and be earth-friendly. Make sure to use new lids for home-canned gifts.

    Firstly, you will need to choose the correct size container. If you want to make this a green gift, use jars saved from home. Just make sure to remove the label and clean and sterilize the jar in boiling water or by running it through a dishwasher cycle. Wrapping your homemade gifts doesn't need to be expensive. There’s no sense in saving money on making your own gifts and then spending a lot on packaging and gift wrap. You can reuse containers or find great bargains on items such as baskets, ribbons, vintage plates and tins. Or, if you'd rather, you can also purchase canning jars at most grocery stores or visit a local craft or container store for some interesting jar choices. It all depends on how much money you want to spend on your jars. For large quantities, consider buying in bulk: Bulk Products ~ Jars and Lids (link). Regarding what size to use, most recipes call for a 1-pint or 1-quart jar. If the recipe does not specify the size jar needed, you will have to figure this out on your own. If you end up with a little bit of space at the top of the jar, crumble up some plastic wrap as filler.


    Of course, when you are making gifts in a jar you want the person receiving them to actually enjoy or make the contents and eat the final product! In order to make sure that the final recipe works correctly and tastes yummy, be sure to take as great a care in reading the ingredients and accurately measuring them as you will writing the directions for the recipient. Use a funnel to ensure all of the ingredients make it into the jar cleanly. If you don't have a funnel, you can improvise one out of a coffee filter by cutting a hole in the middle bottom of it or you can use a piece of card stock to form a funnel.

    To make sure all ingredients fit in the jar, make sure to pack down each layer a bit before adding the next. If a recipe calls for layers to be packed down firmly, you can use the bottom of a long handled ladle to gently pack the ingredients down. If the recipe calls for only lightly packing the layers, you can just lightly tap the jar on the table or counter and then continue with the next layer.

    Some recipes may require that you include bagged ingredients. Use a resealable snack bag for these ingredients. Make sure you squeeze out all the air before sealing the bag. You want as little air as possible in your ingredients to ensure their freshness.

    Unless the recipe specifically says otherwise, all light powdery ingredients such as cocoa, powdered sugar or flour should be place at the bottom of the jar, otherwise they will mix and coat the other ingredients. Coarser or heavier ingredients such as granulated or brown sugars would come next. The last layers (the layers closest to the top) should consist of chunky ingredients such as nuts, cereals, candy pieces, or dried fruit. Once you have all your ingredients properly placed in the jar, make sure that you seal the jar tightly to help prevent the contents of the jar to shift.

    Using various craft supplies you can create very cute covers for your jar lids. Or you can simply add ribbon and a gift tag. You can use a ready made gift tag, make one from card stock or use the back of a recipe or index card or you can print one from your computer. You can use fabric to cover the lid, or even patterned paper to decoupage the lid. If you crochet, you can even make a crocheted cover or doily to cover the lid with. You can even attach small floral pics or Christmas greenery. Cinnamon sticks make a sweetly scented attachment. Attach a small gift to your gift in a jar such as a wooden spoon, spatula, hot pad, oven mitt, measuring spoon or cup, a cookie cutter or Christmas ornament. You're only limited by your imagination! You can make your gifts all the same or personalize them for the recipient with Custom Canning Labels (link)

    Take a look at some terrific CANNING RECIPES (link) for your gift-giving consideration.

    Even if you don't can your own jams/jellies, syrups or pickles, here are some GREAT ideas (these are all clickable links to recipes in our database):

    A food safety note: do not make flavored oils. The oxygen-free environment that exists around herbs, spices, and other ingredients placed into oils is the ideal place for botulism to grow. If you want to include a flavored oil in a gift basket, purchase commercially made flavored oils and do not transfer them to another bottle.

    A food safety note: Keep canned breads and cakes refrigerated or frozen if not using right away, as the seal may not be reliable. From the NCHFP/USDA.

    If you'd like to go bigger, consider assembling a gift basket and tailoring the contents to the individual recipient. Everyone loves a one of a kind gift. Creating a beautiful gift basket is an easy project, even if you have never created any crafts before. Once you have all your supplies on hand, the basket can be easily created in as little as 15 minutes. Shop the dollar store first for bargains.

    Gift Basket Themes (and a few suggestions):
    Baking: housewarming, bridal shower, anyone who enjoys baking
    Barbecue: great gifts for men for all occasions
    Baseball: for baseball fans, any age, any gender
    Basketball: anyone who likes basketball
    Beach: appropriate for many occasions; particularly nice for children
    Books/Reading: books, bookmarks, gourmet coffee or tea, snacks, cookies, online bookstore gift card
    Camping: give this gift to the family who camps
    Cat and Cat Lovers: catnip mouse or other cat toy, hair ball paste, cat treats, cat brush, scratching post
    Cheap: ideas for budget-minded people
    Children: for birthdays, holidays, special events/occasions
    Chocolate: decadent chocolate of every kind and in every shape, nuts, gourmet coffee
    Christmas: including gingerbread, holiday scents, and seasonal goodies
    Coffee: Gourmet or flavored coffees, flavored sugars, cinnamon sticks, coffee mugs, demitasse spoons & a coffee table book about coffee (great idea for your boss and all coffee drinkers)
    Dog Lovers and Their Pets: rawhide bone, dog biscuits, squeaky toy, dog shampoo, brush, collar and/or leash
    Football: tailgaters, football fans for any occasion
    Gardeners: gardening gloves, gardening book, garden journal, small hand tools, handmade seed packets, garden clogs
    Girls: small purse or change purse, nail polish, hair thingies, perfume, glitter, makeup, nail file, mirror, earrings, stickers, notepaper, fancy pens or pencils
    Golf: for those who enjoy golf, all occasions or special events
    Gourmet: various gourmet gift basket themes; something for every occasion
    Hanukkah (Chanukah): kosher packaged food that doesn't need refrigeration such as kosher smoked salmon (lox), kosher wine, chocolate gelt, cookies, nuts, dried fruit, dreidel
    Hawaiian/Luau: coffee mugs, Kona coffee, fresh or dried tropical fruit, jams or jellies, macadamia nuts, fresh or artificial Hawaiian plants or flowers, fresh pineapple, candies, cookies
    Healthy Food: for the health and wellness conscious
    Housewarming: for family, friends, or a new neighbor
    Ice Cream: sundae or ice cream bowls (can easily be found at dollar stores), some spoons, an ice cream scoop, sprinkles, ice cream sauces (home-made or store bought) and napkins (paper or cloth)...great for kids as well as adults
    Italian Food: pasta lovers
    Kitchen: those who enjoy baking and cooking
    Mardi Gras
    Martini Lovers: cocktail recipe cards, rimming sugars or salts - flavored or plain, garnishes, cocktail picks, cocktail napkins, cocktail shaker, glassware, munchies
    Men: pack of handkerchiefs or a set of hand towels with his initials embroidered, body wash, shaving brush, shaving cream, aftershave, hair gel, pumice stone with wood handle, nailbrush, bath brush, body massager and a body wrap
    Mexican Fiesta: great fun idea for any occasion
    Movies: DVDs, popcorn, popcorn seasonings, bottles of water or soda pop, chocolate bars, licorice, movie rental coupons (good for most people, easy, and items are readily available)
    Nautical: for anyone who loves boating or cruises
    Patriotic: for anyone serving in the military
    Picnic: great personalized gifts for many occasions
    Pizza: teenagers or pizza lovers
    Romance: for men or women...anytime that love is in the air
    Spa: Twirly towel, bath mitts, cozy slippers, eye pillow, luffa sponge, body sugar scrubs, bath salts & bubble bath, shower gel, bath bombs, candles
    Tea Lovers: gourmet teas, flavored sugars, cinnamon sticks, tea cozy, pretty tea cups and saucers, homemade cookies/baking, homemade jam, small potted houseplant
    Teachers: bulletin board borders, cute notepads and stickers, bottles of glue, glue sticks, erasers, and pencils
    Tool Time
    Welcome to the Neighborhood
    Wine: gifts for wine lovers, great ideas for work-related gifts


    To some people, a homemade gift basket is a basket filled with handmade crafts or home baked goodies. A homemade gift basket can just as easily contain hi tech items - or anything else you can think of to put in it.

    How to Make Gift Baskets
    The gift basket assembly process doesn't have to be extremely difficult if you start with planning. All you really need is your own ideas and creativity plus a few items that are readily available at craft stores as well as dollar stores. Here is a list of what you might want to consider during the planning stage:
    Container: as simple as a decorative paper box, a basket or clay flower pot. For larger or theme gifts, consider using a good colander, wok, bamboo steamer or slow cooker for the container. The only limit is your imagination!
    Filler material to fill in the bottom of deep containers, such as brown paper or floral foam
    Purchased colorful shred, brown paper for coffee gift baskets, shredded sheet music for a music lover, shredded comics for children, or Easter "grass"
    Small well-wrapped packages of jams/jellies, pickles, gifts in a jar, snacks or other small gift items
    Double stick tape to hold gifts in place (optional)
    Ribbon, bow, and gift card. Ready-made bows are great for taking the hassle out of making one, but make sure that the size is right for the basket - a large basket requires a larger bow. Likewise, don't hide a small basket with an oversized bow. Click on HOW TO MAKE A GIFT BOW ~ SIMPLE STEPS (video), if you'd like to make your own.
    Decorative items such as toys, cookie cutters, or homemade chocolate spoons for coffee, champagne, or wine baskets
    Cello bags or wrap to hold your finished gift baskets (optional). Cellophane is sold in either clear, colored, print or festive. The clear with a small gold pattern is very versatile for any occasion. It comes in a variety of widths, with the most popular being 20", 24" and 30".

    Begin by laying out all of the necessary elements you have chosen for your gift basket assembly. If your container is too deep, place enough brown paper, newspaper, or foam in the bottom so all the gift and food items will by filling the bottom of your container with enough filler (foam or crumbled paper) so that your gifts are visible. Excelsior, which is shredded natural wood material, can also used for this step. You can purchase excelsior at craft stores, some card shops, and anywhere that sells boxes and other packing materials. The benefit of using excelsior is that it is inexpensive, you don't need to use shred in step #3, and it helps cushion breakable items.

    When you are satisfied with the first step of the gift basket assembly, it's time to arrange the gifts in your container. Play around with the placement of the gifts and food items until you get them placed just right. Start with larger items towards the back and work down to smaller accessories. If the container has a handle (either above the basket or at each end) it works well if you attach items to the handles with ribbon or raffia. If needed, tape gifts to each other with double stick tape to keep them from moving around. This is particularly helpful with light weight packages of edible items, which move around easily.

    Now you are getting to the fun part of the gift basket assembly yellow shred and your gift basket should begin to take shape. Add small bunches of the decorative filler around the edge of the container, between the food and gift items, and also to fill in any empty spaces.

    Add a ribbon or decorative bow. (TIP: Mesh or other open-design ribbons are beautiful as a finishing touch for spa gift baskets.) Simply gather the excess cello, netting or tulle at the top and tie it with ribbon. If desired you can add a bow and allow the ribbon to cascade down the front of the gift basket.

    Not all baskets are made solely with food. There are many fun and thoughtful keepsake items that are perfect for inclusion, such as keychains, journals, candles, stationery, toys or utensils.

    Look at other gift baskets for ideas. If you see an eye-catching gift basket in a store, take note of what you like about it. It may be the color scheme, the container, the arrangement, or the theme.
    Add color to an unfinished container/basket with a non-toxic spray paint.
    To scent dried or silk flowers, add a few drops of fragrance oil on the backs of the blossoms. Always test the oils in a hidden area first; it can stain the silk.
    A lazy susan allows you to assess your basket from all sides and get to the back without lifting. It also comes in handy when decorating the rim of the basket with silk flowers
    Use a paper shredder to make your own filler; use colored paper.
    Shred old maps for someone who likes to travel or campers.
    Shred music sheets for a music lover.
    Wide tulle ribbon is lovely for women's gifts.
    Use decorative hair ribbons for a little girl's gift baskets.
    Combine several colors of curly ribbon together such as red, green, and gold for Christmas.
    Place small silk flowers instead of shred to fill in any empty spaces.
    Add a small baby rattle, a silk flower, or other theme item to the center of your bows.
    Add CHOCOLATE COVERED SPOONS (link) to your coffee-themed basket
    Color coordinate your gifts, filler materials, and container as too many different colors are distracting.
    Fill wine glasses with sparkly shred.
    Wrap wide ribbon around the top of gift baskets for a decorative look.
    If you live in a rural area, use pinecones from your back yard instead of buying them from the craft store.
    No matter what you decide to use for the container, make sure to place the heavier items on the bottom and the lighter, more fragile items on top.

    If you'd like to try something a little different, and easier, you may want to consider using a theme gift bag as the container. Your finished gift will look much nicer if the gifts show above the bag. If you use a decorative bag it's not necessary to add finishing decorations.


    Reference books you may enjoy:





    Please feel free to add a comment, suggest a recipe or relate a story.

    Last edited by Molly53 on Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:09 pm, edited 7 times in total
    Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:52 pm
    Forum Host
    I love making home made gifts. I have vanilla brewing for the next 6 weeks and will be putting them in jars and give as gifts as well as hot sauces, home canned soups, bath salts. This recipe was a big hit with my last years gift baskets.

    Colorful Antipasto
    1/2 c. pepperoncini peppers
    1 6 oz. can Medium black olives
    1 14 oz. can quartered articoke hearts
    1 package sliced pepperoni, quartered
    1 package 8oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
    1/2 c. whole stuffed green olives
    1 8 oz. Italian salad dressing.

    layer in order given in a 6 cup decorative glass jar. store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
    ( to serve: drain off dressing)
    This one is another favorite, very pretty in a jar!

    Maple Pecan Ice Cream Topping:

    3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
    1/4 c. water
    3 tablespoons maple syrup
    2 Tablespoons butter
    1/2 c. chopped pecans
    1/4 c. Whipping cream NOT whipped.

    In a sauce pan, combine B. sugar, water, and maple syrup. With a candy thermometer cook over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until it reaches soft ball stag. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Cool. Stir in pecans and whipping cream. Store in fridge for up to 3 weeks , if it can last that long!

    I hope this will inspire some of you this year!!
    Mon Nov 01, 2010 9:57 am Groupie
    I give jars of Homemade Guinness Mustard for the holidays.
    Mon Nov 01, 2010 9:57 am Groupie
    Great topic with loads of info! icon_smile.gif

    It never occurred to me until just now to make homemade granola to give for christmas gifts. I made some this past spring that my mom went gaga over.

    In the past, in my pre-canning days, I made and distributed cake and/or brownies in a jar one year. That was fun, but even then I was worried about buying the quart sized jars to give and never receive back.

    I think this year, I may give a couple jars of jam and a jar of granola with a few packets of hot chocolate for a breakfast basket. That may be fun. It may even be fun to make the hot chocolate packets as well since, I don't like anything in the store.

    Saeriu icon_smile.gif
    Terriyaki 2
    Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:21 am
    Regular "Line Cook" Poster
    I have been making and selling gift baskets for years with my homemade spa/bath products. Expanded to make baskets for the school auctions. This year, for 3 sets of elderly parents, it will be food baskets. Easy things they can make with just the right number of servings needed. Soup in a jar, pancake mix, homemade blueberry syrup, strawberry jam, hot chocolate, homemade mustard and berry ice cream topping. I am sure I will find more ideas here, too. It is so fun to make these gits and they are always so appreciated because I didn't go out and buy "something".

    I also make a lot of foods for my youngest son who is away at college. He has bags of individual servings of oatmeal (all with brown sugar and cinnamon, some with added dried apples or other fruit), small freezer containers of homemade chili, etc. 2 of his favorites I have made for his freezer are Cupcake Lasagne (Those of you who are around my age will be very surprised to see that this is a Dweezil Zappa recipe!) and my own cupcake quiche. I also make gluten-free cupcake quiche and gluten-free peanut butter cookies for his roommate who is gluten intolerant. He likes to come home not only to do some laundry but, to stock up on great foods that make all of his friends jealous. (He claims to share some.)

    I am really going to enjoy this blog!!
    Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:31 pm Groupie
    Great topic, Molly!
    I love giving these types of gifts! icon_biggrin.gif

    I've got Homemade Vanilla that should be aged (6 months) by the middle of November & ready for gifts in December.
    Last year I made Love Honey for family & a few friends. It was a huge hit, especially for the diabetics in the family!

    These were photos taken before I dolled up the jars with fabric & tags. icon_wink.gif

    Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:41 pm Groupie
    Terriyaki 2 wrote:

    I also make a lot of foods for my youngest son who is away at college. He has bags of individual servings of oatmeal (all with brown sugar and cinnamon, some with added dried apples or other fruit), small freezer containers of homemade chili, etc. 2 of his favorites I have made for his freezer are Cupcake Lasagne (Those of you who are around my age will be very surprised to see that this is a Dweezil Zappa recipe!) and my own cupcake quiche. I also make gluten-free cupcake quiche and gluten-free peanut butter cookies for his roommate who is gluten intolerant. He likes to come home not only to do some laundry but, to stock up on great foods that make all of his friends jealous. (He claims to share some.)

    I am really going to enjoy this blog!!

    Hi, Terriyaki! wave.gif

    I'll definitely have to try the cupcake lasagna (I love the whole Zappa family! icon_biggrin.gif)
    And I'd love it if you posted a link to your GF cupcake quiche here so I can make it too. My best friend and all 3 of her kids are celiac and I've spent the last year creating & altering recipes to GF. I have posted several mini-quiche recipes that I've created here to my private recipes. I didn't realize I hadn't made them public yet, so I'll make sure they're ready & post them public tonight. icon_smile.gif
    Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:30 pm
    Forum Host
    Tink, your pics are a-ma-zing! icon_smile.gif
    Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:03 pm Groupie
    Thanks, Molly! icon_smile.gif
    Mon Nov 01, 2010 9:50 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    Oh, wow! Great topic... This will come in handy for me as I'm currently searching for gift ideas like this - very informative
    thanks! icon_biggrin.gif
    Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:09 pm
    Forum Host
    Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:51 am
    Forum Host
    What a wonderful selection of great ideas! I am going to start making Glace' fruit later on today, its a long process but well worth the effort.
    Terriyaki 2
    Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:43 am
    Regular "Line Cook" Poster
    The Cupcake lasagne is so good! I make some changes/additions. I add cooked ground pork. I also make an Alfredo sauce to put on top of the tomato sauce. And I use goyza wrappers instead of wontons. Goyza is round! I don't color the top ricotta. Do not use the cherry tomatoes or fresh basil leaves. They don't look so good when frozen. They are so easy to freeze on a cookie sheet and then store in ziplock freezer bags. 2-3 will fill my husband easily. Reheat in microwave 5-6 minutes.

    I actually made up the Crustless Quiche recipe and rarely measure. But, this is basically what I do.....guessing at measurements. Quiche is so flexible though. You can use spinach, cauliflower, zucchini, sausage, prawns, crab, etc. It's a fun way to clean out the refrigerator! Premade pie crust, make your own or no crust. I know there is one floating around that uses Bisquick but, I have never done that. I frequently will make 2 quiches at a time and freeze one for later use. Freeze the cupcake quiches on a cookie sheet and then store in ziplock bags in freezer. Reheat in the microwave approximately 3 minutes.

    Ham & Broccoli Quiche

    1 small onion chopped
    1/4-1/2 lb mushrooms sliced
    3 Tbls butter
    4 eggs beaten
    1 cup cheese (cheddar, Swiss or ?) grated
    1 cup milk or 1/2 & 1/2
    1 cup + broccoli steamed and chopped
    1 cup diced ham (leftover or can have deli slice it about 1/2" thick)
    salt/pepper to taste
    nutmeg or paprika

    Saute onion and mushrooms in butter. Mix eggs and milk in a medium size bowl. Add mushrooms, onions, cheese, broccoli, ham and salt & pepper. Pour into pie crust. Sprinkle with nutmeg or paprika. Or spray oil in cupcake tin and pour mix in.

    Bake at 350* for 40 minutes or until inserted knife come out clean. Check cupcake quiche after 30 minutes.

    Terriyaki 2
    Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:49 am
    Regular "Line Cook" Poster
    Tink, another recipe for your celiac friends (and anyone) is peanut butter cookies.

    1 cup peanut butter
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg.

    Beat all together well

    Drop by 1 Tbls on cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with tines of a fork. Bake at 350* for 8 minutes. Too easy and no bizarre type of flour needed.

    I made a batch of these for my son, Mario, to take back to school to a share with his roommate, Toby. I only hope some made it to him. HAHAHA!

    I know more about gluten-free recipes than I ever dreamed. Need to start making more so Toby doesn't feel left out.
    Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:14 am Groupie
    You all Rock! Here's my Crafts for Kids where you might find some other ideas for the kid's gift baskets!
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