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Is it OK to give purchased rather than home made food as a gift?

I have elderly neighbors with whom I exchange small Christmas gifts. They were guests at my house for Thanksgiving when I learned that they love fruitcake and look for discounted fruitcake after Christmas. They are on a limited budget and I am also at this time. I don't normally buy baked goods, I just make them myself and often make extra to give them. I thought fruitcake would be a nice gift for them this year, and since I don't like it, have never made it. It's just gross to me. I checked out some recipes and it seems expensive to make. Then I was reviewing my sale flyer for BJ's Wholesale Club and they have one for $14.99. I also have never made something that I wouldn't eat myself so I don't think I would know a good recipe if I saw it. I have given many food gifts but they were all homemade. Is it tacky to buy them a fruitcake or should I try to make one or try to think of another gift?

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  1. Of course it is acceptable! In fact, it is sweet that you want to give them something they like! Fruitcake is very expensive since fruit is expensive. In fact, I doubt that you could make a fruitcake for $15.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      That's what I thought cause the recipes were calling for cointreau, which is expensive, and various types of raisins where I would never use the remainder of the package.

    2. A home made fruitcake is very easy to make and can likely brought in within that price range. I also have a steamed pudding recipe that anyone who likes fruitcake would probably enjoy. If they like the kind you'd be purchasing, I don't think it's tacky. Holler if you want either the fruitcake recipe I use or the steamed pudding. BTW, if you have a bottle of Sherry or Port, a tbsp. or so every month or to over the course of a year can really turn an ok fruitcake into something divine, IMHO.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tim irvine

        My Mom made fruitcake and treated it with liquor, I don't know what kind, over a long period of time. But, I only have 3 weeks. I'd love your recipe so I can start it in February for next year.

      2. some people appreciate store bought goodies MORE: case in point, my mother treated HERSELF every year to a special fruitcake made by some order of monks - it's what they make to support their monastery. It was always such fun for her to eat that first slice.. she really waited for it every year. She would never have considered making a fruitcake herself! Nor did she particularly like fruitcake as far as i could tell - she really just wanted this one recipe. I think people like the packaging and the name brand they recognize knowing it's quality. it's a different thought than homemade, but i don't think it's a wrong thought. just giving the gift is the point. Maybe just putting it in a special box would be nice - something you have taken the time to decorate yourself.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rmarisco

          Those monks make a seriously tasty fruitcake -- it's not the "junky fruited brick" that other storebought fruitcakes tend to be -- it's genuinely enjoyable.

        2. Pudding: grate I shaggy pieces a large potato and a large carrot. Soak a package of chopped dates and a cup of candied mixed fruit in a little hot water and whisky. I like Irish. Drain. Sift a cup of flour and a teaspoon of soda. Toss the fruit and a half cup of nuts (Walnuts are my fave) in about half of the flour and soda. Cream a quarter cup of shortening and a cup of brown sugar.. Add a half teaspoon of grated cloves and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Beat in two eggs. Add the remaining flour and soda, the fruit and nuts, and the grated potato and carrot. Mix it. Place in three dishes about the size of souffle dishes. Cover each with oil. Stack them on a rack in a large pot over water and steam for about three hours. Best served with hard sauce.


          2 pint tubs of candied mixed fruit, 2 cups raisins. 2 cups walnut pieces. 1 cup orange juice. 1/2 cup molasses. 1/4 cup Sherry or other fortified wine or liquor of your choice. 3/4 cup butter or margarine. 3 eggs. 3 cups flour. 1 tbsp. baking powder. 1 tsp. salt. 1 tsp. allspice. 1 tsp. cinnamon. 1 tsp. grated nutmeg. 1/2 tsp. mace.

          Assemblage follows same pattern as the pudding. Put in two greased loaf pans. Bake at 300 for an hour and a half to two hours. Spend a year ladling a little Sherry over it each month. Mother used tins and wrapped the cakes in cheesecloth. I use big freezer bags instead of tins.

          BTW, hard sauce is a stick of unsalted butter creamed with a cup of powder sugar and a dash of brandy.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tim irvine

            Thats what my mom did and she started the year before and made as gifts. I don't remember how she stored them. For a year. Do you just leave out somewhere, freeze, etc.?

            1. re: Floridagirl

              I wrap it in whatever is handy...everything from plastic wrap to wax paper to cheesecloth and store the wrapped item in a tin. A year ago I ran out of tins (gifting) and am now using one gallon freezer bags...so far, so good.

          2. It's always ok to give - to give anything. It seems rather sad that this is even a topic. Give what you can, what you think the recipeints might like, what you can afford.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Terrie H.

              I don't agree with you. In my case, any time people come to my house they know that all of the food will be home made. Except cheese but, when I was young I had a goat farm and the cheese was home made too. So, I pride myself on home made food and goodies and people expect it and I hope look forward to it. I think it's important, when giving, to put thought into it which is why I have a prob with making fruit cake cause I don't like it.

              1. re: Floridagirl

                Then give them something homemade. Why would you even ask on a large online forum whether "it's ok" and then disagree with someone who says it might be?? Fix them something, then. jeez

            2. I think it is perfectly all right. You would not hand dip your own chocolates, You don't make your own cheese, you don't stomp your own grapes; a fruitcake is something that you need lots of ingredients for...causing a lot of leftover "bits". No reason not to buy it

              1. If I only gave people stuff I make myself I would never give anyone anything.

                1. It's perfectly acceptable for you to give the bought fruitcake to your neighbors. What a lovely thing to do for them. At the Holidays fruitcakes are flying all over the country as gifts.

                  If anyone's interested here's the link to the Trappist monks in Kentucky,,, They sell delectable fruitcakes and other goodies.

                  1. I've been eating fruitcake from this company since about 1958. It's the only one I'd ever give to someone I care about, but $14.99 won't get it. http://www.collinstreet.com/pages/onl...

                    1. I think it's absolutely fine as long as it is special in some way. To me, there are two ways it can be special:
                      1. It is a high-end version, not just something anyone can pick up anywhere.
                      2. It is not high-end, but you are absolutely certain the recipient will adore it. Maybe it's a long-time favourite or there is some sort of sentimental attachment.

                      It's the thought that counts, and it is possible to be highly thoughtful with store-bought product.

                      1. Thank you all for your opinions. I think I'll buy a fruitcake and make a gift bag with some home made breads

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Floridagirl

                          Nice decision. If you don't like fruitcake, why lay in the ingredients?

                        2. <Is it tacky to buy them a fruitcake or should I try to make one or try to think of another gift?>

                          I have rnot ead other people's responses. So I am responding based on exactly how I feel. I think it is nicer to make something for a gift especially for a special person. However, I do not believe it is tacky to buy a baked good. I think it is perfectly fine to purchase one. I have many people bought me baked goods, and I am always happy.

                          Now, what I think it makes a difference is to buy good quality baked good vs disgusting baked good. You don't want to buy a bag of Oreo cookies and give it to someone.

                          What you also don't want to do is to take a big bite a of the gift. You don't want to do this:


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            What is Oreos are their favorite cookies?

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              <Now, what I think it makes a difference is to buy good quality baked good vs disgusting baked good. >

                              Yes, and what if disgusting baked good is their favorite?

                              Like Louis CK said "on the off chance that you are into that shit?"

                          2. Of course it's OK, and particularly if it's fruitcake. :-) I do actually have one friend who makes the things, but most who give fruitcake buy it, and that would be fine with me.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: John Francis

                              I do like fruitcake everyone. :) Feel free to buy me some.

                            2. Was one of very FEW kids who enjoyed old-time fruit cake with my grandmother... ones with that unknown "fruit" in it?? Made Alton Brown's "Free Range" fruit cake recipe a few years ago and it was NOT cheap to make by any means. BUT it was tasty!

                              1. OK, I hear you've decided to bake something. With your problem resolved, its a great time for my food gift stories.

                                1. I don't think my mother ever made a fruitcake in her life. But in her elder years, she took to sending us a small, non-descript Claxton fruitcake every year. Not sure why she settled on this "tradition," but I ate it (spouse didn't). Now Mom is gone and I will always have a sentimental place in my tastebuds for the old Claxton fruitcake.

                                2. We've had gatherings where we would be asked to "share a Christmas memory." When I was 4 or 5 years old and just starting to have some say in what I personally might give others for Christmas, I decided I had to give my older brother (if I was 5, he was 15) the bestest gift I possibly could. In my kid-sized opinion, a gift-wrapped bag of Cheese Doodles was more desired than gold. I hope he liked 'em, because I truely gave from my heart.

                                3. We have some very good friends who are financially very challenged, but they know I have a sweet tooth and one of my favorite foods (not just cheese doodles...) is peanut brittle. And so for the past several years, I have received wonderful store-bought off-brand peanut brittle. And I am always touched to receive it.

                                4. One more Mom story. She often invited others over for Christmas Eve dinner; especially other co-workers who had no family around. She made sure the guests would get some small Christmas gifts, and I remember that even our dog would "give a gift" to these visitors- usually it was a large box of fruit-flavored life savers. I think Life Savers used to come in a special presentation where the box looked like a book and opened like a book. Another gift of love from the heart, but not at all homemade.

                                I'm sure your neighbors will appreciate your gift, your efforts, and your friendship.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Florida Hound

                                  Aww, the Life Savers book . . .that jogged some memories of my elderly neighbors . . . they gave me one every year as a kid. If I recall, the tropical fruit "book" was a favorite along with the traditional fruit.

                                  At church, I think we got Charms (think square Life Savers without the hole).

                                  1. re: gaffk

                                    Ahh, I knew Charms well, as a Trick or Treat staple.

                                2. Of course bought foods make lovely gifts. Fruitcake, panettone, candy, fancy cookies, a fruit basket, a selection of cheeses and crackers---the list of nice possibilities is endless.

                                  1. I invoke "don't ask don't tell" come holiday season - sometimes there just isn't enough time in the day to cook or bake or prepare everything from scratch. I do what I need to do, then just smile beatifically when complimented and say "thanks".

                                    1. Here's my thought:
                                      High-quality fruitcake IS expensive to make and if you only need to make one, and won't use the ingredients thereafter, doubly so. You mentioned that they look for it post-holiday, so clearly they haven't got an issue with it being homemade. I'd take my cue from that, and purchase the nicest one you can find that fits w/ your price-range, wrap it beautifully, and gift away. Knowing that you've given them something they really enjoy and will use is a giver's gift as well.
                                      Giving the best that you can manage, with the spirit of the holiday in your heart? I cannot imagine anybody anywhere ever objecting to that. I think it's really lovely.

                                      1. I am a firm believer that 99% of a gift is the thought of giving it.
                                        If they look for the discounted fruitcake after Christmas, just think of how happy they will be if you give them one to enjoy at Christmas.