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Gifts from and for the kitchen

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If money is a little tight this year-- and even if it isn’t-- a gift from the kitchen or for the kitchen is always welcome.

This is the time of year when baking supplies are often on sale. If you have a knack for baking cookies, cupcakes, coffee cakes or bread, consider creating these items for hostess and holiday gifts. A box of rum balls or chocolate chip cookies or a tray of mixed cookies makes a lovely present-- and if you want to give something even more valuable (though not costly), consider including a copy of the recipe along with the finished product.

This is great if you don't mind sharing treasured recipes for which everyone is always asking, but it also works for ordinary recipes that others just might not know how to find easily.

And here’s another thoughtful gift: put together a kitchen kit. These kits don’t have to be limited to desserts. Does everyone rave about your roast chicken? Think about creating a gift consisting of the recipe, along with a jar of powdered garlic and a jar of oregano, if those are the primary ingredients. Or, for you are Secret Santa to someone who loves your world-famous banana bread, buy a new loaf pan, bake a banana bread in it, and give it-- right in the pan-- with a copy of the recipe tucked in. Wrap it in tissue gathered at the top with a bunch of curly ribbons.

Or cut diamond-shaped brownies or pieces of your favorite spice cake and set each into a paper cupcake cup-- or a square of pretty wrapping paper. Set these into a shirt box and wrap them (with a note that says, “This end up” and another that says, “Open at once!”)

If you’ve saved some small pretty baskets from last Easter, consider filling one with carefully chosen Clementines (when you buy them in the store, there are always a couple of Clementines in the package that are starting to go bad; so leave those out, giving only the best of the bunch). You can always add some shiny apples, or a cluster or two of grapes, to round out your fruit basket.

Or fill a basket with a couple of jars of interesting jelly and a package of interesting crackers nestled into some holiday tissue paper.

Home-made jellies, if you have them, make a fun gift, alone or with a package of store-bought crackers or a home-made bread. Adding the recipes (unless they are a family secret) make the gift extra special.

If all else fails, put together a box of kitchen items from one of the dollar stores: what about an oven nitt and a pot holder, perhaps with a matching kitchen towel or a coordinating apron? You can even combine a potholder from the dollar store with a package of brownie mix from the grocery store. Or combine a box or tin of cocoa mix, a couple of peppermint sticks for stirring, and perhaps a pretty mug or two.

These thoughtful gifts from the heart are always welcome.

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