Every year I give away gifts of food to many of my neighbors and friends. I know I’m not alone in this as I also receive many food gifts from friends and family during the holidays. With the onset of gift bags and red and green plastic storage containers, I’m afraid the art of wrapping and presenting gifts is becoming a dying art.
Today I want to encourage you to resurrect this art this holiday season with the gifts of food you give.
A Personal Touch
So much beauty that can be created and given away through the presentation of a gift. Presenting an artistic, creatively wrapped gift is one way to express a bit more thought, a bit more love and a bit more care. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a beautifully wrapped present?
The gift comes bearing beauty and a personal touch, and that makes it just that much more special. Most (or all?) of us I know are limited by budgets in terms of how much we can spend on the gifts we give. I’m sure many of you wish you could give more. A beautiful presentation can help to express our hearts behind even the most simple of food gifts and reflect more clearly that it truly is “the thought that counts.”
Bottles and Jars
Are you giving homemade gifts in bottles or jars this year? Many people bring a bottle of wine to gatherings and parties as a hostess gift. Herbal-infused olive oils, vinegars, or marinades are also common bottled gifts. Others fill canning jars with homemade jam or layer ingredients attractively for a cookie, spice, tea or soup mix in a jar. Instead of popping that bottle or jar in a generic gift bag, what about wrapping it up?
I can’t claim the following idea as my own because I just came across it the other day while flipping through a magazine at the dentist’s office. (Unfortunately I can’t recall which magazine, so I can’t give proper credit. If you know, let me know!) But I think it’s a fabulous idea.
Do you have an old sweater hanging around — one you no longer like, one your child outgrew? If you don’t, just hit up the thrift store one day and look for some inexpensive used sweaters. Cut a sleeve off the sweater and slide it onto a bottle (or jar if the sweater sleeve is wide enough). Tie the top with some festive ribbon and voila! What a cute and cozy way to give a gift in a bottle! One note of caution: Make sure you either stitch up the bottom of the sleeve to cover the bottom of the bottle or jar or make sure the sleeve is a really snug fit. Otherwise, you will reach for the bottle (or jar) and the sleeve will slip right off and you’ll have a mess on your hands instead of a gift. Thin sweaters are the easiest to work with.
Who said baked goods have to come on plastic plates or in red and green plastic tubs? Skip the plastic and package your baked goods this year in more creative, beautiful and earth-friendly means. There are so many simple, easy and inexpensive ideas. I’m only touching the surface here.
First of all, begin by packing the food in something. Do you have canisters from previous gifts? This beautiful tin came from a box of cookies my husband’s aunt had brought with her when visiting last year during the holidays. The tin behind came from a gift I received from my uncle. Re-use beautiful tins like these by packing muffins, cookies or granola inside. A beautiful tin like this can stand on its own as a gift, though I still might be inclined to tie a big, white satin ribbon around it just for a little extra holiday glam.
You can also place baked goods in small boxes of all sorts. Just line the box with wax paper or baking parchment and place the treats inside. Some items — like note cards sometimes — come in small, attractive sturdy boxes with lids. I tend to keep and re-use these as the packaging for other gifts. But you can also find food boxes quite inexpensively at baking supply stores or craft stores like Michael’s. The only problem is they are pretty plain. What to do? Wrap them and decorate them.
Here’s where it gets really fun! I love using inexpensive white butcher paper or craft paper to wrap. It’s a great base to start with, being neutral. (If your food boxes are white, you can skip the wrapping if you choose and jump right to decorating.) You can go with an all-white winter theme, using various shades of white and cream, layering items for a decorative look. Just a quick tip: use a glue gun when wrapping. It will keep any and everything in place, from felt to burlap to beads and bows. I normally wrap all my gifts first, then I go back and decorate with my glue gun in hand.
You can even get a bit fancy and try your hand at gathered fabric bows which are actually quite simple to make. These “flat” felt bows are another great choice — classic and easy to make. I put them on all my gifts last year. (The directions are not in English, but the pictures are self-explanatory.) I didn’t bother stitching with needle and thread, instead I just glued each part together with my trusty glue gun. Much quicker and it worked great!
Pom-poms are fun to make (and a good kid’s craft too). They would be super cute and festive tied on one of those sweater sleeve-covered bottles, don’t you think?
But if crafts aren’t really your thing, then just keep your wrapping natural and simple with baker’s twine and evergreen. The evergreen I snipped off the tree in my front yard. The twine I bought here. I bought it a few years ago and we still have at least half of it left. I used it to wrap all my Christmas presents that year, plus we’ve used it for countless school projects, art projects, impromptu kites, puppets and more. While you put out about $10 to buy it, the spool will last you forever, trust me!
Just A Quick Word About Ribbon And Tags
There’s no quicker way to add beauty to a food gift than by using real ribbon. Whether felt, grosgrain, shimmery or sheer, ribbon is beautiful and classy. And ribbon can be tied onto anything — jars, bags, bottles, boxes, you name it. I always find ribbon on great sales before and after Christmas at my local Michael’s craft store. One to 2-inch wide red felt ribbon is often a cheap buy, but it still looks (and feels) lovely tied on gifts. I’ve bought 25 yard spools for just a couple dollars.
As for tags, they are another really easy way to add an extra special touch to any gift, but especially food gifts. Everyone likes to know what they’re receiving, and a custom tag is a beautiful place to note the food you’re giving and any necessary instructions. And the great news is there are tons of free printable tags online! I’ve pinned these ideas to use this year. Print them on cardstock to make them sturdy.
What food gifts are you giving away this year? Have you thought about how you will wrap or present them? Share your fun ideas with me below!
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Can I ask everyone here, in the most respectful way possible…why do y’all celebrate Christmas? Do y’all really believe it’s Jesus’ bday? What about its pagan origins and Saturnalia? What about what it says in the bible about “not following heathens” and such? I recently started asking myself why I celebrate Xmas and what the meaning was and I’m shocked by the answers I got so I figured I’d ask ppl who I know celebrate it and get their opinions. Hope to hear from as many ppl as possible. Thank u.
Wardee Harmon says
Though you’ve asked a big question, I will keep my answer very simple. I am supportive of all Christians whether they do or do not celebrate Christmas.
My family is not deceived — we know full well that Christmas is NOT Jesus’ actual birthday! But still we like to celebrate Him during this season and also to give a few simple gifts (like those above) to loved ones in Jesus’ name. Our focus is Jesus.
Though Christmas has other “stuff” mixed in there, it’s a personal decision how to handle it. Certainly people can choose NOT to celebrate at all (or celebrate at other times or in other ways) or people can be more intentional about focusing on Jesus during this time.
I want to thank you for asking your question in such a gracious way. I hope that if others jump in with their convictions that all would take the high road as you have.
Alexis, thank you for asking your question graciously. It’s a loaded one with much to be said about the issue on both sides–far more than any of us could probably address in just comments. I am supportive of those who choose to celebrate and those who choose to not celebrate, because I believe the bible gives us the freedom to make that choice.
As Catholics we look to the season of Advent as preparation for the celebration of the coming of Jesus’ birth, and yes we know it is not his true birthday, but also to set apart a time to really focus on preparing ourselves for Jesus’ return. While we know that it is not Jesus’ time of birth and that many of the traditions are of pagan origin I think it is important to have a time set apart to celebrate the importance of Jesus’ becoming man in order to go through His journey of our salvation. I believe the Church felt this way too, which is why it created Christmas from the many pagan celebrations around that time. Their idea was to not completely abolish the practices that the people they were converting had been practicing for generations, but to instead turn their times of celebration toward celebrating aspects of Jesus’ life. I think if we keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas, even with trees, wreaths, and stockings, we bring glory to God.
Blessings on your journey of faith,
These all look so pretty. I really like the brown bags with the evergreens. Its like a piece of art!!
Thank you, Tanya, for your kind words!
I agree with the person who asked why we celebrate Christmas. It is true that sometimes all the gift giving gets in the way remembering Jesus. When looking at what to cut out though to eliminate some of the stress, I realized that one of the things my children most enjoy is driving around the neighborhood and delivering small gifts to the neighbors. Sometimes we have done apples and oranges, or other simple things. One neighbor gave us a pineapple for Christmas, and I have since copied that as well. I don’t know what we’ll do this year.
Wardee Harmon says
I love that, Leslie!
And I think no matter whether people celebrate Christmas or not, Christy’s ideas for packaging gifts are timeless and appropriate for ANY season!
Leslie, like Wardee, I too love that your kids enjoy delivering gifts to neighbors. My sisters and I used to do the same thing as children–my mom would take us around one night (it was lots more fun to go out at night!) and we would deliver gifts to all our neighbors. Now my husband and I take our kids on a walk around our neighborhood to give our neighbors gifts, and they enjoy it too. I think it is a great way to instill an awareness and love of others in our kids.
Jennifer Wright says
Very beautiful! Thanks for posting