Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts {Day 1} = Food

posted by Andrea | 11/26/2012

Today is the first day in my week-long Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts series… and I’m just SOOOOO excited! All week long I’ll be sharing lots and lots of creative ways to give practical and clutter-free holiday gifts that should please everyone on your Christmas list!

Monday = Food
Tuesday = Gift Cards
Wednesday = Experiences
Thursdays = Cash
Friday = Charitable Donations
Saturday = Acts of Service

Oh, and I’d love to hear your ideas too, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Day 1 = Food

I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love some type of food gift; and no, you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to give the gift of food. In fact, many of my ideas below don’t even require any kitchen work on your part :)

1. Canned Goodies:

I personally enjoy canning my own jams, jellies, fruits, veggies, pie filling, applesauce, salsa, etc. and I also enjoy giving small jars as gifts. I often package my gifts with gourmet chips, crackers, homemade breads, or other items to create a fun gift basket that is sure to please.

However, even if you don’t can your own produce, you can buy gourmet canned items from a local specialty shop and package them with bread, crackers, chips, candies, etc.

2. Caramel Corn — or any other flavor of popped corn:

Package up your favorite homemade recipe or just buy some of those giant pop corn tins at the store and divy them up in cute boxes or smaller, more personalized tins.

You could also give a kit to make their own gourmet popcorn — simply include un-popped popcorn, a variety of seasonings, and the recipes for how to make each different flavor. Go ahead and skip the popcorn bowl though :)

3. Jar/Bag Mixes:

I simply LOVE getting cookie, brownie, cake or bread mixes in mason jars. Not only can I reuse the jars for canning purposes, I can also whip up some delicious baked goods in no time at all since all the ingredients are pre-measured.

However, if you know the recipient doesn’t can, feel free to put their mix in a zip-top bag so they don’t end up with extra jars that they won’t use.

4. A Candy Bar:

I love this idea — and it’s SO simple!  Just buy a bunch of King Size Hershey bars the next time they go on sale, gently peel off the outer paper wrapper {not the tinfoil wrapper}, and replace it with your own homemade wrapper that says something like “Wishing you a SWEET holiday season from the _______ family.

Seriously, who’s going to turn down chocolate!

5. Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

I have a very simple recipe for homemade hot chocolate mix. I make this mix for people every year and it always goes over well. You can include fancy chocolates, homemade marshmallows, or any other non-perishable toppings. But please SKIP the mug — I guarantee they don’t need another one!!

6. Packing Lunches for a Week:

If you know someone with school-age children, I’m fairly confident they would love to hand over their lunch-packing duties for the week — especially if they have multiple children to pack lunches for.

This gift might be a little trickier to give, but maybe instead of the actual food items, you could give the recipient a package of brown paper lunch bags with a note saying, “redeemable for one week of school lunches”.

7. Junk Food Basket:

I know the name sounds horrible — but I’ve given these baskets before and they are always VERY well received! You can include homemade OR store-bought treats, candy bars, suckers, chocolates, 2-litters of pop, lemonade drink mixes, popcorn, crackers, movie theater candy, etc.

I’ve made junk food baskets for little kids and put everything in a small sand pail, for college students in a bathroom caddy, and even for adults in a decorative planter.

8. Dinner for a Night:

This food gift might be difficult to wrap, but just give them a “coupon” or “certificate” for One Night Out of the Kitchen. List a few different dates and food choices that work for you, let them pick the one they want, and then simply deliver it just before dinner time.

I’ve done this several times and it’s a winner for sure! {One tip — put the food in disposable containers so they don’t have to worry about bringing the dishes back to you.}

9. Specialty Beer, Wine, Coffee or Tea:

photo source

I’m sure there are a few people on your Christmas list who would appreciate a variety of fancy beers, wines, gourmet tea and coffee, or even a big package of K-cups (if you know they have a Keurig coffee maker).

Again, feel free to skip the mug —  and if you’re giving beer, you might pair it with my recipe for beer bread.

10. Groceries for the Week:

Depending on how well you know the person and how much you’re willing to spend, I know SO many families who would love to have someone else do their grocery shopping for one week.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing their shopping, you could also give them a gift card to their favorite supermarket, or even offer to shop WITH them as an opportunity to spend more time together.

11. Freezer-Cooking Day:

I’ll talk more about this on Wednesday, but planning a freezer cooking day with friends or family would not only be a great opportunity to spend time together, but it’s also a great clutter-free gift that will help to stock their freezer.

You can offer to buy the ingredients and do the cooking together, or (if the recipient doesn’t like to cook) do the cooking yourself too.

12. Ham, Turkey, Steaks or Other Cut of Meat:

photo source

My dad would often get meat as gifts from suppliers and companies he worked with, and it was a fabulous gift for our family — and a nice way to try some fancier meats that we might not otherwise have “splurged” for!

Obviously, you’ll want to reserve this gift for someone you know who enjoys cooking and spending time in the kitchen. You’ll also want to make sure they have the refrigerator/ freezer space to accommodate a large chunk of meat.

13. Gift Certificates to a Favorite Restaurant or Coffee Shop:

I’ll be talking more about gifts cards tomorrow, but I can’t write a post about giving food without including restaurant/coffee shop gift cards.

And this doesn’t have to be expensive — you could give a $10 Pizza Hut gift certificate to your college-age nephew or give a $5 Starbucks gift card to your hairdresser who gets a coffee every day on her way to work.

Restaurant gift cards are a great excuse to get out, do something fun, not worry as much about the cost, and get the night off from doing dishes!

These are just a few creatives ways to give food — one of MY favorite clutter-free gifts.

What are YOUR favorite ways to give food gifts?

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17 comments

  1. Jane

    11/26/2012

    Great ideas! I love to give as well as receive these kinds of food gifts! One of my favorite ideas is for my father-in-law. He is 85 and his birthday is Christmas eve! Talk about difficult to buy for! He lives alone and eats a lot of frozen dinners. About 5 or 10 years ago I decided to make him meals. I start around Thanksgiving and start saving leftovers from my meals. I package full meals in special containers and other, smaller meals in ziploc bags or plastic containers. He truly loves it and looks forward to it every year. The only hard part for me is finding room in my freezer.

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  2. Sherry

    11/26/2012

    I knew a couple that were not going home for the holidays. It was just going to be the two of them for Christmas morning so I did up a breakfast basket for them. Inside was some good quality bacon, 1/2 dozen eggs, pancake mix. some fancy jams and syrups, some good quality OJ and a small bottle of Champagne. They loved it. I also make meals for Oma who is 89 and has a hard time making meals herself. She loves soups the most so I make several batches of home made soups that freeze well but I also do up smaller trays with leftovers that she really enjoys too.

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  3. STH

    11/26/2012

    This year I’m going homemade on all my gifts. My sister is on a no-carb diet and can’t have most treats, so I’m going to make her some spice mixes and marinades to make her meat-heavy meals more interesting. My mother’s getting some homemade Greek yogurt with granola and jam to put on it. My boyfriend’s getting a few homemade liqueurs (http://drinks.seriouseats.com/diy_vs_buy/). Now if I could just find the time to make them!

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  4. Maria

    11/26/2012

    I did homemade hot cocoa & chocolate mug cake mixes in a mug one year. They were a big hit, but you are right I could have skipped the mug.
    I got together with 2 girlfriends yesterday. We each brought ingredients for 2 meals and spent the day cooking and chatting. Now we have easy meals to pull out of the freezer for this busy month. It was great fun. I could see # 11 being a great gift even for someone who doesn’t care for cooking, it is much more fun with friends.

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  5. Christine Somers

    11/26/2012

    All these ideas are great. I love to make home applesauce and usually put it in lovely glass jars. Candidly, it never occurred to me to give them as gifts. Thanks for jumpstarting my holiday thinking.

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  6. Dallas

    11/26/2012

    I love these ideas! The hot chocolate mix looks divine. I am planning to make homemade chai latte mixes for my friends this year!

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  7. Jo

    11/26/2012

    Love these ideas! My parents got some nice chunks of meat for my husband’s birthday before – best gift for a guy ever!!! I also love the idea of buying canned goods from a local store and giving them as gifts…it sounds like such a heart warming gift to me.

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  8. Monica Good

    11/27/2012

    This is a great blog reminder!
    My sons and daughter in laws had already stated they would like more gift cards than anything else. What I am choosing to do is something like the following:

    Gas Card with and air freshener for my sons car
    Old Navy Card along with a shirt
    Grocery Card with Omaha steak package
    Movie tickets with movie size candy
    A&E card with a shirt
    Nail polish with a gift certificate for a manicure
    Bath and Body Works card with a shower gel

    They’re just some of my “go-alongs” that I am giving to my grown up boys and their wives. Easy peasy! and my one son lives in a studio apartment so they don’t have much room. His twin and his wife will be moving home from Ft. Hood this winter, so I am sure that gas cards will be very much appreciated as well as fast food cards.

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  9. Rainey Daye

    11/27/2012

    We are going homemade so far for Christmas this year for the extended family (still have to figure out for the BIL’s and DH’s uncle…and the baby nephew is getting a ring stacker left over from a Fisher Price House Party). The ladies are all getting yummy homemade chai spice tea mix and the nieces and nephews are getting jars of candy cane striped peppermint scented playdough with sparkles in it.

    Other than that, my neighbor is getting a bottle of homemade gingerbread coffee syrup cause she keeps raving about the batch I made on Halloween. A few other people are getting a stovetop Christmas potpourri kit. Besides that we are putting together a St. Nicholas gift basket to drop off at a neighbor’s house and ring-and-run…that will have homemade bread in it along with a bought bottle of gluhwein and a few stocking stuffers and candy canes.

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  10. Selena

    11/27/2012

    Great ideas! I’ve given the gift of food after family members have had a baby– a full meal, either frozen or delivered hot and ready. It is always appreciated! For Christmas, I have given frozen homemade cookie dough to my brother in laws– then they can have cookies whenever they want. I love giving (and getting!) food!

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  11. Jennifer

    11/28/2012

    Last year I gave my mother-in-law who enjoys cooking and canning a highly reviewed canning cookbook and a case of jars with lids/seals. She must have thanked me about three times since Christmas. She also made up apple butter this fall to give away to family using some of those jars. Not really the gift of food, but food related. : )

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  12. Kristen

    11/30/2012

    Awesome ideas, Andrea! I’m giving my sister a crock pot for her birthday – and a cooler full of frozen pre-made crock pot meals. All she has to do is unseal the bag, put in crock pot and turn on. Dinner done.

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is a fabulous gift idea Kristen! I’m sure your sister will love it — and hopefully get lots of use out of the crock pot in future years as well. One more thing you could add to your gift would be the recipes for the meals you are giving her — in case she wants to make them again!

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    Ann Reply:

    I gave my SIL a crock pot AND a box of crock pot liners. She LOVED it,
    in fact, she didn’t even know there was such a thing. Due to vision problems, her hubby does all the grocery shopping.

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    Ann Reply:

    Another good idea is to include crock pot liners, for easy clean up!

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  13. Kristen

    11/30/2012

    OH I just thought of something else! Another good gift would be a wine/beer/salsa/cheese of the month club. Just google whatever you want and I bet there will be a subscription based club for it!

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