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Christmas Gift Ideas

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Hello. For the past few years, we usually gave "snacks" as Christmas gifts to our friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc We have given Parisian bread, dessert wines, nice chocolate chip cookies, etc I looking for some fresh new ideas in the $10-$15 range. TIA !

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  1. How about homemade jelly, or spiced nuts, or something along those lines?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ctflowers

      What about making your own gourmet hot chocolate mix. You can make it as fancy as you want, with different mixtures/spices - I'm sure there's some old threads you can surf here to give you some ideas. Pour it in a jar, fix with a nice pretty bow, with directions on how to make it. You could even make some homemade marshmallows to go with it, if you're so inclined.

    2. a nice tin of peppermint bark, or some imported dried figs stuffed with almonds.

      1 Reply
      1. re: vvvindaloo

        Second the bark, I bought boxes of this at TJ's (sorry, not homemade!) as grandma/aunt gifts last year.

        If you have a Penzeys near you, you can do a little gift box of their small jars of spices within your price range.

      2. How about an expensive bottle of pure vanilla extract tied with a red ribbon?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Oh Robin

          All great ideas ! Please keep them coming !
          To be more specific, I would prefer something that will require no manual labor =),
          with 4 young kids and a busy holiday schedule, looking to conserve my energy for cooking, wining and dining. Also, maybe something both foodie and non-foodie alikes will enjoy. I always enjoying finding little niche online vendors that focus on their very own prouduct. Thanks again.

        2. I know you said something that a non-foodie would enjoy, but how about an inexpensive cast iron/ceramic pot (I think Target/WalMart has some for about 15-20) with the recipe (one a nice notecard, tied to the pot lid) for the no knead bread.

          I'm planning on doing that (Marshalls has some mid priced "Le Creuset" type pans for $40) for everyone (really just my mother, his parents, his sister) along with an Earthbox and seeds. If you can bake bread and grow veggies, you won't starve.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChandraNH

            I want to be on your list, as I would love to receive an Earthbox! The place where they were born is very close to me in FL., and I am going to take a little ride there to see it all. What a wonderful way to grow about almost everything.

            1. re: ChandraNH

              Ooh, can you share your no-knead bread recipe? I just got a dutch oven and am dying to explore with it. Also, am intrigued by this Earthbox thing. You should have happy gift recipients. I would be.

            2. How about a Reynolds Handi-Vac! A wonderful little tool, and it's on my list to give to many. Only $10 too!!!

              1. Maybe a nice bottle of truffle-infused olive oil - not too much money, but something that they may not have already.

                1. Call me crazy, but if you're putting a whole basket together, I got a jar of the "Better Than Boullion" chicken base yesterday, and it was amazing!! So much cheaper to use than boxed stock, and it actually tastes really good (until the day I get around to making my own stock). One little jar makes 38 cups -- I consider it such a find that I am considering getting it as a small gift for people this year.

                  Also, the ginger spread from www.gingerpeople.com is really great, and equally inexpensive.

                  And one more suggestion: a good bottle (well, not the best, obviously) of balsamic or other vinegar.

                  1. We're planning to give a number of people niter kibbeh, Ethiopian spiced butter.

                    We're going to go to the restaurant supply store and buy a big lot of butter to clarify and spice and give it away in half-pint canning jars or decorative dishes from TJMaxx or Big Lots with a recipe card or a note card with ideas for use.

                    1. aged balsamic?

                      i have a nice bottle of 10yr i was able to get for $15, of course i'm not in your area. but i find that pretty much anyone can appreciate it although many will not understand that it is practically drinkable on its own. the simplest way of course is just to dip some bread into it but i'll often dunk my finger in for a taste.

                      if you can get a small enough vial of it and perhaps a really nice olive oil... well those two items are pretty much in everyone's pantry these days.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        I think we often buy better stuff for other people than we do for ourselves . . .

                      2. Herb box
                        Herb infused oil & vinegar
                        Herb pillows/sachets
                        HERBS! :)

                        1. I'm a mother of three ages six and under so I hear you about being pressed for time. Just a thought, but since you're not keen on lots of manual labour why not check out your local farmer's market and see what neat stuff people have for sale? I know our market is brimming with homemade goodies, jams etc this time of year. You'll have good gifts and have supported local farmers/merchants. :)

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: maplesugar

                            I found a local olive farm and press and this year I'm doing olive oil for all. Haven't decided whether I'll have time to infuse it and rebottle it yet, but even plain it'd be nice. Also, I found a bunch of wine bottle gift bags and boxes on sale that will make a great presentation.

                            1. re: yamalam

                              Thanks Chowhounders for all the great ideas ! You guys are the best !
                              I'm leaning towards a gift of olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
                              Any recs of any good online shops besides the mainstream ones.

                              1. re: vonger44

                                http://www.olivepit.com/default.aspx

                                vonger44, your budget for quality oil & vinegar might prove challenging but the Olive Pit has a nice selection of mid range prices for both. The pomm vinegar is fabulous.

                                1. re: vonger44

                                  Actually, Fairway does really nice olive oil and balsamic, both under their house brand, at the price point you're looking for. Their aged 12 year balsamic is really quite good, and it's only 6.99 (?) a bottle. They also do their own red and white wine vinegars. They're at Fairwaymarket.com (don't know if they do mail order). Also try zabars.com -- they also bottle their own olive oil and have a wide selection of vinegars and such (don't know if they bottle their own). I'm guessing Penzey's also has, and as a final thought, I'd try Murrayscheese.com, which also has things other than cheese . . .hm. Maybe you do a spanish cheese, a spanish oil, some spanish almonds . . .? Or a cheese that's nice with balsamic?

                                  One thought -- any of these places would be great, as you don't want your giftees to feel like what you've bought them is TOO special -- they'll save it for special occasions and never enjoy, which kind of defeats the purpose, no?

                                  1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                    bebev's referenced sites will be more expensive than 15.00 when you factor in shipping and Penzey doesn't sell oil or vinegar....but I do agree local would be your best bet if working with a budget. Shipping will easily knock you off 15.00 per gift budget.

                                    Happy Holidays!

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Any thoughts on these 2 choices ? They cost around $15 with free shipping on bulk orders.
                                      Masserie di Sant'Eramo Balsamic Vinegar or
                                      Monari VSOP Balsamic Vinegar
                                      That was easy, now I can focus on shopping for family and friends.
                                      Thanks for all the great ideas I can use for the next few years !

                                      1. re: vonger44

                                        Masserie di Sant'Eramo Balsamic Vinegar

                                        found this on Amazon for 22.95/17 oz bottle...so if you found it for less w/out shipping, good deal.

                                  2. re: vonger44

                                    The following website should give you all vendors who have their products available online. You can use the website to find balsamic vinegar too.

                                    http://www.thefind.com/query.php?quer...

                              2. How about a package of pasta, a jar of sauce and nice wedge of good parm in basket?

                                Or a salsa dish with a tomato, lime, onion and a pepper?

                                Maybe include a recipe card?

                                1. I don't know how I quite feel about this, I saw it at Target and mentioned in the NY Daily News or the NY Post (I don't remember which one). You take a jar and layer all the dry ingredients needed to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. As I said, I'm not quite sure how I feel about it, but it did look pretty in a nice jar layered with a nice bow.

                                  1. I think I just completed all my holiday shopping by "borrowing" all your great ideas. I love a good olive oil and balsamic vinegar so that will be my choice. Although I had the Williams-Sonoma dipping oils over Thanksgiving and they were so delicious I just might have to share those too. For anyone looking for a cool way to package up your gifts I just came across this link from another blog http://www.thinkgarnish.com . So many options!

                                    1. My four suggestions:
                                      1) Home-made Hot Cocoa Mix is a great idea (try with cinnamon and or cayenne pepper)
                                      2) Home-made Chai Tea Mix is also a very nice idea and easily done.
                                      3) Gourmet Olive Oils, e.g. Big Paw makes fantastic, subtle but intense olive oils. I like Basil and Garlic as well as the Meyer Lemon Flavor
                                      http://www.theolivestore.com/bigpaw2....
                                      4) German Christmas Stollen. The best I have come across is the one from Sterntaler Bakery (www.sterntalerbakery.com). They make a Baby Stollen which comes at around $5.00 a piece.