When I was a child and asked my mother what she wanted for Christmas, she always replied: “Make me something”.
At the time I used to roll my eyes and think it was a cop out. Now I’m a mother I get it. Having your child spend time putting something together especially for you is magical.
Creating gifts for teachers, friends and family has a lot of advantages. It’s something that is personal and special and it’s a gift that requires time and thought. You can save on money, avoid landfill and find something that is local to you.
Here are a few ideas that may just get you wanting to help your child upcycle pantry or recycling items!
Gifts in jars
If you’d like to buy a fancy jar by all means do however, an old jam or sauce jar decorated by your child and tied with ribbons can look amazing:
- Baking mixes. You can layer the ingredients for quick bread or pancakes in a jar and glue a recipe to the back.
- Popcorn. Either kernels with a spice mix sachet (cinnamon for Christmas?) or freshly popped and flavoured.
- Homemade sauce. You can prepare a salsa, chutney (my son loves making apple chutney), compote, tomato sauce or sriracha. It’s the sort of thing that’s so expensive to buy but lovely to have in the fridge.
- Muesli. You can make a lovely homemade granola and flavour it to the taste of the recipient. A decadent cereal full of nuts or gourmet dried fruit could be a real treat.
- Nut or dried fruit mixes. Put together a jar of mixed nuts which you could roast and spice too. Or create a dried fruit jar with all the lovely colours you can find.
- Gingerbread cookies. Making cookies in Christmas shapes gives them a lovely, seasonal twist and they keep really well so you can bake in advance.
- Spice rubs/sprinkles. You can create a special spice mix to add to meat or to sprinkle over salads. This could be a jar of one spice or a collection of little bags inside a jar.
- Flavoured salts. Again a jar of one type or a jar filled with individual bags. You can have so much fun making salt infused with rosemary or celery. Perfect for the summer and BBQ’s and salads.
- Sauerkraut or kefir. Give the gift of good gut health! Make some brightly coloured sauerkraut or gift someone some kefir grains with instructions (Check out Healthy Food Guide July 2016 for sauerkraut recipe).
- Marinated veg or cheese. Layers of marinated capsicum or feta or goat cheese with herbs always looks lovely and bright and appealing. Or some preserved lemons before they go totally out of season.
- Choc covered nuts or seeds. Who doesn’t like the crunchy centre and the chocolaty outside. A bit of a treat for most of us.
- Homemade Nutella. There are some great recipes for making a gourmet nut and chocolate spread. Delicious and a big step up from the bought stuff.
- Honey with infusion. Take a jar of raw honey and infuse it with herbs. You can make little paper bees to glue on the outside or draw honeycombs on the jar.
Gifts in bottles/boxes/baskets
- Infused olive oil or vinegar. You can use a fancy bottle and standard olive oil or vinegar and then infuse with herbs, spices or native plants like Kawa Kawa.
- Homemade kombucha or lemonade. Get the kids brewing something special as a gift.
- Herbal tea. If you have crafty genes you can put together a box with compartments and present a range of teas for the friend/family member who has everything!
- Choc dipped strawberries or cherries. ‘Tis the season of the lovely summer fruits. Either create a lovely basket for some seasonal fruit or go the extra and choc dip them.
- Bliss balls, yoghurt or chocolate bark. Baking a sweet treat can be a lovely gift and something the kids enjoy doing.
- Mini Christmas cakes. My father uses old tuna tins to make mini Christmas cakes that he then distributes to neighbours and friends. It’s the perfect gift for someone who lives alone (or is the only one eating fruit cake!)
- Seedlings. We have all seen how popular the mini seedlings have been as a promotional give-away. Why not use the same idea and make a mini seedling tray complete with soil and a packet of quick grow herbs or salad greens.
- Popcorn in shaped bags. You can present popcorn in a bag shaped like a snowman. It’s a great, economical gift for a group of kids and fun to make.
Whatever you decide, if it’s homemade it is a unique gift and one that your child has spent time creating.
Judith Yeabsley is a mum of two boys who is passionate about healthy food for kids. She runs a food art website, theartofnutrition.com, focusing on presenting fruit and veges creatively. She also works to change the food environment in schools, community groups and lunchboxes. For information on this and great recipes, see theartofnutrition.co.nz.
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