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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas

Even before Halloween night, the stores in Toronto were getting out the Christmas and Hannukah decorations and along with our daily newspapers, we were receiving glossy brochures filled with a wide variety of gift baskets.

Gift cards are increasingly popular as they allow the receiver to choose what they want, but if you are looking for a more personal, fun and affordable gift option, consider making your own gift baskets for loved ones.

Unlike the ones you buy which are usually extremely costly, and contain a lot of filler, you can make ones perfectly suited for friends and family on your gift list, and with a little thought and creativity, you can create beautiful baskets on a tight budget.

To keep costs down:

*Look for gourmet food manufacturers, kitchenware and other companies that have discount warehouses or outlets.
*Before you run to specialty food stores and expensive boutiques, check local grocery stores and chain stores like Sears, The Bay, Canadian Tire, etc. for high-end products that you may be able to find at better prices.
*Dollar stores are great places to find basic items, as well as cellophane and ribbons for wrapping and decorating.

Think outside the "basket" for a vessel for your gifts. Instead of a wicker basket, choose:

*A wine cooler
*A decorative waste-paper basket
*A large metal collander
*A plant box
*A multi-purpose plastic container

Start with a theme that suits each person best:

*Fitness (ex. weight-lifting gloves, a water bottle, fitness towel, workout music, protein bars, yoga class pass, etc.)
*Sushi (rice, chopsticks, soy sauce, pickled ginger, nori, etc.)
*Gardening (gardening gloves, small gardening tools, kneeling pad, etc.)
*Baking (ex. assortment of whole grain flours, baking chocolate, baking mixes, small cake or muffin tins, cookie cutters, etc.)
*Cooking (ex. assortment of exotic spices and condiments and a few cooking utensils)
*Eco Herb Garden (ex. seeds and equipment needed to make an indoor, organic herb garden)
*Do-it-Yourself (ex. make an assortment of mason jars filled with the dry ingredients so he/she can make your favorite cookies or scones or make your own spice/seasoning blends for someone who loves to cook)

Making your own gift baskets is fun and I guarantee that anyone who receives one will love it!

FYI:

Wildly Delicious gourmet food warehouse sale on from Nov. 2 - December 22: www.wildlydelicious.com

Discounted toys and books at the Samko & Miko warehouse sale at various locations in the GTA: www.samkosales.com