Gift-giving – it’s a common, age-old problem. It can be hard, time-consuming, and expensive. What do you give to someone who has it all, or is hard to please? What do you give to your kid’s teachers? Co-workers? Neighbors? Friends? Parents?
The answer is: consumables. Give useful things that get used up. This is a list of gift ideas for anyone to put together at the last minute! You don’t need a lot of money. You don’t need to be crafty. You don’t need to be a good cook. You don’t even need to have much creativity. These are really and truly easy.
Get to the grocery store and buy a little bottle of maple syrup. I’m talking about the real stuff in the handsome glass bottle with the tiny handle. (What are those handles even for?) Then, print or write out a tag with your favorite pancake recipe, and attach it to the bottle with a ribbon.
There are variations on this. Depending on the recipient, you could buy a bottle of chocolate syrup, honey, Torani, agave, or grenadine and attach you favorite recipe or uses for it!
These are chocolate covered spoons used for stirring into coffee, obviously. You need:
A bag of chocolate chips
Optional: sprinkles, crushed peppermint candies, flavor extracts
Using a glass bowl, microwave the chocolate chips on medium power, checking and stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Dip plastic spoons in, tap off excess, and place on waxed paper to harden. Put a few in a cellophane bag (or a coffee mug, then wrap with plastic wrap), attach a tag with a ribbon, and you’re done.
For flavored chocolate, add in 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cooking extract such as cinnamon, vanilla, peppermint, raspberry, etc. (Taste test to make sure the flavor is a good strength.) Check out your grocery store’s spice aisle! You can also coat the (still wet) chocolate spoon in candy sprinkles or crushed candies.
Chocolate Covered Pretzels
These are much like the coffee spoons. You need a bag of pretzel rods (these are bigger than the pretzel sticks) and a bag of chocolate chips. Melt the chips like above, dip about 1/2 to 2/3 of the pretzel in the chocolate, and let harden on waxed paper.
You can also roll the (still wet) rods in sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut, or whatever you think works. Package in cellophane bags or plastic containers.
This is for buttered toast, French toast, oatmeal, cereal, coffee, popcorn, sliced apples, etc. There is some disagreement on the best ratio, but I prefer a 2:1 ratio of sugar to cinnamon, which is pretty strong. Start with 1/2 cup of sugar and add 2 tablespoons of cinnamon (this is a 4:1 ratio), mix well, test it out, and add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of cinnamon, depending on how strong you want the cinnamon. Put it in a jar, tie a couple cinnamon sticks around it with ribbon or twine, attach a list of favorite uses (if you want), and you’re done.
Pasta Gift “Basket”
Instead of a basket, get a colander or big metal bowl and line it with a cloth napkin (red-checked is Italian-style). Fill with any or all of the following: box of pasta, jar of sauce (pesto, marinara, Alfredo, etc.), a pasta ladle, jar of crushed red pepper, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts (though these are expensive), fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, wine, or whatever you can think of. You can be as fancy or simple with this as you want. Check your local dollar-type store! The combinations are endless.
Gift-giving doesn’t have to be stressful. There are so many variations of these ideas to spark ideas for your own simple, useful gifts.