Monday, December 12, 2011

Directions

Directions (noun):  instruction, guidance

A lot of people ask me for advice.  I'm not really sure why that is, but it happens a lot.  Anyways!  for the last few weeks a lot of people have been asking me about the Christmas Baskets, so I thought I'd share some tips.

1. Think Big.  Instead of going for only "traditional" treats (like sugar cookies, gingerbread men, etc), I looked at dozens of recipes and made a long list of things that I thought I could make well.  At this point, the only things I did not write down were things I could not make (due to lack of kitchen supplies) or would not make (due to my allergy to eggs...and my husband's picky tastes!).  I ended up with a list of over 2 dozens recipes (before I stopped!).

2. Consider the Recipients.  As I shared in a previous blog, some of the people I was baking for would not have been able to eat a lot of the dishes I initially chose.  I also wanted to make sure I had a lot of variety since I was making baskets for acquaintances whose preferences I did not know.

3. Go Small.  Quality is always better than quantity in a gift like this.  The best way to get quality is focus; you focus by limiting yourself.  I only made a few kinds of cookies so that I could focus on those recipes.  Also, by limiting the number of recipes, you can purchase better quality ingredients for each recipe.  I suggest no more than 10 recipes, but at least 5 (for some variety).  I decided to do 8; I picked how many of each I wanted to do: 1 cocoa mix, 3 kinds of cookies (including biscotti), and 4 kinds of bite-size candy/chocolates (including fudge).  Then I narrowed down my recipe choices to match.

4. Portion Control.  The goal of the baskets was to share some holiday treats, not send anyone into a sugar-induced coma until spring ;)  Out of each recipe, each person gets 2 servings (i.e. 2 Snickerdoodles, 2 of each kind of pretzel, 2 of each kind of fudge, etc).  Since the cocoa mix lasts for a few months, I gave each basket the same amount (4-5 servings).  Again, quality is better than quantity.  I was only making 2-3 batches of each item, which allowed me to purchase better quality ingredients.

5. Overestimate the Goodies; Underestimate the Basket.  Basically, spend more time, money, effort, etc on what is in the basket than what the basket looks like.  I bought boxes for $1 each at Target and spent about $7 on ribbon and cards for all the baskets (plus leftovers).  The bottom line is that people will remember what was inside more than how it was wrapped up.

Anyways!  I hoped these tips were helpful and that you will consider making Christmas Baskets part of your holiday tradition.

P.S. If you feel like it's too late for Christmas, consider birthday baskets, Easter Baskets, anniversary baskets...

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