Christmas Holidays & Occasions

Gift Baskets for Christmas

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Dawn Hayes

The question of what to buy my extended family for Christmas is always a perplexing one to answer. Michael and I have 13 nieces and nephews. We would give them each their dream gift if we had the money to do so. But alas, we just don’t have the money to buy a gift for every member of the family.

Last year, I visited our local everything-for-$1 store and bought items for movie-themed gift baskets. I found red trays to serve as the base of each basket and lined them with shredded paper. I added animated movie versions of classic literature. Selections available included Wind in the Willows, A Christmas Carol, and Anne of Green Gables, just to name a few.

For a finishing touch, I added snacks. I placed microwavable popcorn in each basket. I also added traditional movie-theater candy like Junior Mints, Skittles, and Twizzlers. I found some of the candy at the Dollar Tree and bought the rest at Walgreens with coupons. I arranged everything on the trays, wrapped it in holiday-themed cellophane and added a bow for a finishing touch. I spent less than $20 per basket, well within my budget.

My sisters-in-law loved the baskets! They said their families enjoyed having a great movie night together, and the kids, of course, loved the candy and popcorn! Everyone wants to participate in a basket swap again this year. A happy holiday solution!

Literature Theme Basket

Pick a book you love to read to your family. Purchase a new copy and wrap it with gifts that correlate to the story’s theme. For example, a Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe basket could include a batch of Turkish Delight, a sword, a bow and arrow, a toy shofar, a bottle of perfume (for Lucy’s potion), and toy crowns. For Around the World in Eighty Days, include an inflatable globe, a deck of cards and instructions for playing whist, Chinese checkers, French pastries, toy elephants from the Indian forest, and a puzzle that pictures an iconic landmark from a country Mr. Fogg traverses. If your budget allows, you could also include a toy train or a DVD of the movie version.

Tea Party
This one is definitely for the girls in your family. Include a new tea set, tea bags, a recipe for your favorite cookies and the ingredients to make them, note cards for making invitations, and maybe even a guest…a new doll. Also include How to Be a Lady by Harvey Newcomb.

A Colonial Christmas
I put this gift basket together a couple of years ago while my boys were studying the time period in school. Press flowers from your garden and glue them to blank note cards. Make authentic quill pens and homemade ink. Include a few batches of homemade Play Doh in different colors and (and scents). Sew nosegays or include crosstich wall hangings and make corn hush dolls for the girls. Create aromatic pomanders. Boys enjoy Colonial games from Colonial Williamsburg, or jacks and checkers, favorites of the time period. For a finishing touch, add a box of homemade gingerbread and a jar of homemade wassail.

The Sporting Family
For the athletic branch of your family tree, buy an assortment of inexpensive games and equipment. A soccer ball and cones, a football and colored handkerchiefs for flag-football, a nerf set, or horseshoes. Make family pennants by cutting the triangular pennant shape from felt. Use glitter glue, fabric paint, or felt letters in a complementary color to add the family name. Add bottles of Gatorade and protein bars for energy boost.

Bird Watcher’s Delight
Have bird watchers in the family? If so, they will love this avian basket. Trust me, I would. Include a couple of inexpensive feeders. I found some at Big Lots in the $3 to $5 range. Add some bags of seed. A variety can purchased from your local grocer or from Wild Birds Unlimited. Birding kids love Audobon plush toy birds available from Ship the Web, and Identiflyer cards (if they have the device that plays them already). A field guide makes a nice finishing touch.

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