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Got any terrific ideas for ''unfriendly economic times'' holiday gift ideas?

I have a few special gifts to give as well as family members to buy for, albeit,not many. My question is, what do you get for people during this time in our economy where money is scarce and gift cards are either boring or not very thought provoking or could be nonworking come January when many stores say they're closing for good?

I know the standard baked goods, like cookies or holiday quick breads or whatever, but do you like receiving those and do you really actually eat them or toss them? I don't want to go to the effort and expense if they'll just end up in the dumpster. Help is what I need here? How bout you? TIA...

If this subject has been started elsewhere, please direct me there, thanks again.

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  1. The problem with standard baked goods is there's a limited shelf life. If you receive a whole bunch of them, they may go in the trash because the recipient can't eat them all -- or they may be on a diet after all the holiday festivities.

    My vote is for something that lasts a long time like homemade vanilla extract or some homemade flavored spirits or some preserves.

    1. I have a seasoning blend that I make, and give as gifts. Some people use it as a rub and some use it as a seasoning type salt, although it is not very salty. I think spices and herbs are a good gift especially for people who cook a lot.

      I was thinking that I would get some restaurant gift cards for my daughter's, since they work and going out to eat is a luxury these days, but you have brought up a very good point about not knowing if a place will still be in business.

      1. I'm actually having a lot of fun coming up with gifts this year, precisely because of the economy! I replied to the birthday gift query with some suggestions -- one perfect cheese (a raw-milk camembert that Herve Mons does for Whole Foods that's to die for); a bottle of lemon-infused olive oil (great for roast chicken) that I saw at Fairway (wouldn't buy it for myself, but thought it would make a great gift, particularly at $14.50); some really nice salt; spiced nuts that I make myself. Oh, and for my friend who doesn't cook but who loves pesto, a few pints to keep in the freezer.

        Oh, and cookbooks. And gadgets (love my colanders, for instance, and my really great whisks, and my magnum pepper mill -- who knew?).

        But I think in the realm of cooking -- and for people who truly like to eat -- there are so many things that are special and not that costly that would make really thoughtful, personal gifts.

        If you are going to go for gift cards, perhaps lean more toward the wine shop -- again, for me, buying a better bottle of wine is still a luxury, so when i get a gift card from my wine shop I especially particularly enjoy it. And wine stores are pretty much recession-proof . . .

        1 Reply
        1. re: bebevonbernstein

          now this is to bebevon, I'm thinking more of people that aren't into food or aren't foodies per say. if they are, I'm all over with glee what to do on their behalf for the holidays. as for the drinkers in the family that need 'help' after the night before, please don't be offended but to me Sophia, not sure how happy a person would be to open something such as that. this day and age we're in, it's just a puzzle what to get for people and then there are the people that don't appreciate anything no matter what it is........

        2. if your friends/family are similar to mine, I have a cute idea: hangover survival kits. a cute gift basket with one of those single-sleeve boxes of saltines, a bottle of aspirin, a couple of cans of V-8, a nip or two of vodka, a bottle of tabasco/hot sauce of your choice, and a gel eye mask. all easily sourced from neighborhood stores.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sophia.

            This is a fantastic idea. I'm giving a basket to all of my close friends...for New Years Day

          2. http://www.squawkfox.com/2008/12/02/h...

            It's not terrific, but it does show that you actually put some effort into something. I'm always happy to get these.

            1 Reply
            1. re: madgreek

              bookmarked madgreek.......
              I just found at the Sally Annie store, 2 full boxes of quart sized ball jars with lids. They are all now steamed and ready for filling and I LOVE THIS LINK YOU PUT IN FOR US. thank you so much...............today, I'll make the biggest batch ever of granola with everything fabulous in it for all to enjoy, pretty ribbon on top and there you go............yeah!