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Start adding to your gift closet

By on July 1, 2011

Summer is the ideal time to plan ahead for holiday gift-giving. You can find deep discounts in retail stores and there are plenty of secondhand deals at thrift stores, garage sales, Freecycle, etc. Start gathering items to add to your gift closet. If you don’t have a gift closet yet, visit for tips to help you to create one. Gift baskets work well to incorporate gifts you’ve accumulated in your gift closet. For gift basket theme ideas visit The first reader tip shares even more gift basket ideas.


Gift basket ideas:

Usually I can keep the cost under $10, all inclusive, sometimes way cheaper. I picked up heart-shaped ceramic dishes (like a pie pan or quiche dish) and put in a miniature book (about 1-inch thick and 4 square inches) on baking I picked up on clearance from Michaels and a bag of homemade streusel coffee cake mix.

One year we did bean soup mixes (it’s about the same price doing 10 of them as one, since you have to buy all the bags of beans; the beans were about $1 a pound, and we layered a little of each in jars) and a can of diced tomatoes. We used a good-sized ceramic bowl I found at the Crate and Barrel outlet store as the holder/basket. Great teacher gifts and very pretty.

Other “in a jar” baskets we did included:

— Comfort Food Basket:

Cookies in jars (chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia nut, cranberry hootycreeks — white chocolate chip cookies with dried cranberries), chocolate brownie mix, etc. Spice mixes, soups (there are recipes for pasta-type soups as well that work great), dips, etc.

— Tropical Basket:

Half pint jar of homemade pina colada jam, Jamaican jerk rub for chicken with a recipe card and a loaf of pineapple/banana b
read; included a small handheld battery-operated fan. (I found a bunch of these on clearance that are white with blue fan blades — very tropical looking. That’s what sparked the idea for the basket.)

— Italian Basket:

Italian herb seasoning mix (bought or made from my own herbs) or a small jar of homemade pesto, jar of homemade marinara sauce, bag of pasta (packed in a colander is cute). If I want to jazz it up a little, I include a plastic pasta scoop utensil and a mini shaker of parmesan cheese.

— Breakfast basket:

Small bottle of maple syrup (we actually made half pint jars of homemade syrup that was quite tasty), a bag of homemade pancake/waffle mix and a bag of homemade granola (packed on a griddle). –Marie, Midwest

Donate extras:

I read your column today regarding stockpiling vs. hoarding. My comment to the person with all the deodorant: Donate some to our men and women in the armed forces. Simply contact your local VFW or American Legion; they are always looking for personal hygiene items to send in care packages. These items are greatly appreciated at local food banks, too. — Shelley L., email

Organize worn clothes:

To distinguish between clothes that are freshly washed and those that are worn but not yet needing to be washed, I turn the clothing inside out prior to hanging on the hanger or folding to put into the drawer. Those on hangers are placed in their own section of the closet. It has worked for me for more than 30 years! –Linda B., email

photo by trenttsd


  1. brenda haubert

    7/1/2011 at 9:40 am

    Where can I find the recipe for the pineapple/banana bread. This is a great idea for an at home getaway

  2. Jenn

    7/16/2011 at 11:35 pm

    Is there a recipe for pina colada jam? Love the ideas.

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