Great Ideas for Personal Gifts
Make the investment of time to create keepsakes for shower gifts
Readers tuck warm wishes into the package when they share favorite hints and tried-and-true recipes. For holidays, wedding showers and other special occasions, subscribers are generous when it comes to gift-giving. They're quick to share their love—and love of cooking—with family and friends. So take a page from these creative cooks' books and consider the following tasteful ideas when you're looking for the perfect present.
Helpful Handbook of Hints
To keep myself organized, I collect the tips from Reiman magazines (along with other helpful hints I've picked up) in a small notebook in my kitchen. When my granddaughter got engaged, I decided to start a notebook for her, too. But in her copy, I also included recipes that I've tried and knew she and her future husband would like. I gave her the notebook at her shower, and it was a big hit with her and all the guests. —Rita Jones, Clovis, California
New Baking Tradition
During the holiday season, I'm very busy with candy-making. Each Christmas, I end up baking not only for my household, but also for my three grown daughters' families.
One year, I decided enough was enough. So I chose two of each daughter's favorites, made copies of the recipes and bought everything they needed to make the recipes, including the pans, utensils, ingredients and a gift certificate for the perishables. I gift-wrapped them and presented them to my girls on Thanksgiving.
I think it's a good way to get them started on baking traditions with their own children. And now that they're on their own, I have a little more time to try some new recipes for myself. —Nancy Kinsey, Dayton, Ohio
Created Keepsake Collection
When my mother-in-law made meals, she didn't use cookbooks or measuring cups and spoons. She prepared dishes with a handful of this or that, relying on the texture, appearance or aroma to get the amounts right.
I wanted to preserve her delicious recipes for our family, but not having them written down made that a challenge. So I decided to put together a cookbook of all her specialties, including those that celebrated her Slovenian heritage.
At first, I asked her for the recipe for a certain dish, and she estimated the amounts of ingredients. But when I tried to make the dish at home, it didn't taste just like hers. So we prepared some of the recipes together. (I had to watch closely or she would sneak in a secret ingredient or two!)
On one occasion, one of her daughters and I spent several hours working with her to get the recipe for a walnut bread just right. We measured out generous amounts of all the ingredients, let her make up the dish, and then remeasured the ingredients left to come up with quantities for the recipe.
She was patient and even let me take pictures to demonstrate her special techniques while she cooked and baked.
I used my computer to type in all the recipes and format them to leave spaces for the color photos I'd taken. I titled the cookbook "Favorite Recipes from Molly's Kitchen," attached a nice portrait of her to the cover and pasted the other pictures inside, then had the whole thing bound with a plastic spiral binding.
For Christmas, I presented a copy that she'd autographed to each of her six children. It has become a treasured keepsake that brings back warm memories with each recipe. —Dolores Kastello, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Winsome Wedding Basket
When friends are getting married, I always give the same present—a homemade gift basket personalized for the bride and groom.
Several years ago, I started putting my favorite recipes on floppy disks. To start, I have the couple page through my recipe printouts and choose the 50 recipes that appeal most to them. I run off those recipes and place the pages in plastic sheet covers.
I purchase all the basic ingredients for two meals from the recipes they've chosen. (I get gift certificates for the meat or frozen items.) I also supply them with about 10 seasonings to add spice to their first months as a married couple.
Then my daughter arranges everything together into a lovely wedding gift basket, which is well received every time. —Sharon-Louise Laye, Parkhill, Ontario
College Care Package
I first started compiling my many recipes in book form when our oldest son, Greg, who isn't much of a cook, went off to college. I presented him with a three-ring binder full of our favorite recipes when we left him at the dorm. It's divided into chapters such as Appetizers, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Cookies and Desserts, etc. I tried to include a lot of information for first-timers, so I even have a hints section with everything from substitutes for ingredients to laundry directions.
When our younger son, Jeff, who loves to cook, prepared to move to his own place for his second year of college, he requested a copy of the cookbook, too.
I continue to add to their books just as I have always added to our family's recipe collection.
When I received an invitation to a wedding shower that requested a recipe for the future bride, I couldn't decide on one recipe. So I printed up a copy of the book as her gift. She was thrilled. Many guests even asked if they could buy a copy. I declined and now it's my tradition to present our family cookbook as a shower gift. —Lynn Ungru, Harrison, Ohio