Monday, December 10, 2007

Gifts from your Heart

In 1976, Better Homes and Gardens warmed the hearts of an entire nation by publishing the best-selling, Nobel prize-winning (for hospitality), Gifts from your Kitchen, which boasts '251 recipes for food gifts.' The real draw, however, are the 'ideas to make your gifts personal,' and, as I'm sure many of you are baking (candy making, preserving, etc.) up a storm, some of the highlights are compiled here for your own reference.

Presents for grandmothers, animals that pose as grandmothers, and new homeowners. 'Personalize your cookie gifts with easy-to-make containers... Have the kids decorate a shoe box as a house and put Looped Jumbles in it' (the chocolate-covered twists that look like those 'religious fish' people put on their cars). To achieve this look, all you need are construction paper, magic markers, shoe boxes, and the milk cartons that you're not going to use to make candles, and voila! you've got whimsical containers that are too good for perishables!

Larger-than-life papier-maché fruits hide jars of preserves (and other canned wonders) from prying eyes.

'Dress-up jars of Spicy Corn and Tomato Relish and Pickled Mushrooms by topping them with paper-maché mushrooms or turning them into corn ears.' Adorable!

Wine flavored jellies topped with Snowdrift Paraffin. I can't tell if it's supposed to be edible or table decorations! A nice Christmassy background, at least.

'Happy Mails' to your friends and family! If all you've got left is construction paper, you can't go wrong with a real fine handlebar design! Or, if you've really got no taste, you can sloppily tie some of that thick, rope-like yarn around your container.

A Martha Stewart design if ever there was one! This is a great gift idea to keep in mind when you've forgotten a holiday and need to produce a quick gift. Dress some store-bought pasta sauce with glued-on pasta, and no one will complain about what a terrible gift giver you are! (Added bonus: if the recipient runs out of pasta, he or she can just crack the pasta off into a pan for an instant dinner!)

This day-glo Muppet nightmare is billed as a 'unique hostess gift'. The book suggests, 'Try giving Parmesan Nibble Mix in a sea chest made from a shoe box or in tall glasses decorated as pirates.' Well, I guess you could try.

A chapter on 'How To Give Gifts', in which the book tries to convince this girl that it is better to give gifts than to keep them all for yourself. The book does not succeed.