Feb 4, 2016

2015 Christmas "Baskets"

I'm not sure if I've ever really focused on the gifts we create each year for the families we exchange Christmas gifts with each year. For several years now, we have been doing themed gift "baskets" with some sort of homemade element to it.  

My mom and I had had this idea for several years before we actually executed it, mainly because we found that finding gifts for everyone on our list was hard, and because we're all in positions to purchase what we want for ourselves and because we're not always sure what people really would like. Today, our friends and family look forward to our gift baskets just to see what we will come up with each year and because they enjoy what they are getting. 

I think that first year, we made Bloody Mary mix, a cheese ball, and bread sticks that we then packaged up with drinking glasses, mixing sticks, a small bottle of vodka, a small cutting board and cheese knife. We included the recipes for the homemade items as well. We created a Hot Chocolate-themed basket for our non-drinking family and friends that same year, with a fleece throw blanket, mugs, hot chocolate packets and candles that I added wintry-themed stamps to. 

Another year, I made lemon bars in glass pans that I had stenciled the family's last name on. 

We actually start thinking up our theme almost as soon as Christmas is over as sometimes what we want to do takes time and planning. 

For 2015, our basket theme was "Fresh from the Farm". 

A Finished Jar of my Oven Dried Tomatoes. Cameron and I love these. 
Inside was a jar of homemade, oven-roasted tomatoes that can be used just like sun-dried tomatoes; a jar of sliced, homemade lemon cucumber pickles; some of my fig preserves, which Cameron called "Christmas in a Jar" based on just the smell of it while I made it; pickled sweet banana peppers, which are just like pepperoncinis; and packets of BBQ & Garlic flavored pumpkin seeds. 


A Finished Jar of my Fig Preserves. These have been a huge hit - to the point that people don't want to share any with visiting family or friends. 
We try to not overload people with a basket every year, but instead try to package it all in something that can be just as useful. One year it was a glass salad bowl from Ikea that people still use and comment on how much they love it, today.

An Unfinished Jar of the Pickled Sweet Banana Peppers. Definitely on the list for growing and canning next year.
This year, we went with a tote bag, which we have done in the past as well. The first time we did this, I made the tote from canvas left over from our wedding and embroidered fruit on the pocket. 
An unfinished jar of my Pickled Lemon Cucumbers. They were a hit too - people actually have asked for more. 
This year my mom painted our beautiful Thanksgiving Tom turkey based off a picture I had sent her. She then had the painting photographed so we could send a digital copy into Vista Print and have it printed onto the canvas tote bags for this year. Far and away, my mom's painting of Thanksgiving was the biggest hit among every one we gave these to. We also ordered extra so we can have some for ourselves.

The Totes
Yes, this is a painting. So many times, when we have shown people this painting, people think it is a picture.

This is my mom's painting in digital form. 
I always finish the "baskets" off with a cute, homemade gift tags and labels for all the goodies. Both last year and this year, this process was made even easier with my Christmas gift from Cameron last year - my Silhouette. I have used this more than any other of my crafting tools, except for maybe my sewing machine. 

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