Creative Gift Containers

After you've taken the time to prepare an assortment of homemade foods for friends and family, why not take the extra step and package them in a unique way? Some creative containers are merely clever conversation pieces. Others are actually part of the gift itself and will be enjoyed long after the goodies are gobbled up.

A Colander of Cookies. Instead of relying on an ordinary wicker basket or Christmas tin, fashion a container out of a colander! You may want to line the colander with a napkin to catch any crumbs.

It's in the Can. Surprise someone with a paint can brimming with homemade snack mix! Purchase a new can and lid (available in gallon or quart sizes) at a hardware store. Wash and dry. Line the inside of the can with plastic wrap. Add some crumbled tissue paper if desired. Fill the can with treats, set the lid on top and gently tap with a hammer to close. Wrap the outside of the can with festive wrapping or scrapbook paper. Or simply set a decorative wreath on top of an undecorated silver can. Another idea is to write or type a holiday greeting on a piece of paper and slip it into a small magnetic photo frame. Place the frame on the lid. And don't forget to include a clean paint-can opener so the recipient can easily unlatch the munchies inside!

The Great Frame Up. Inexpensive picture frames (measuring 5 in. x 7 in.) serve as unique "trays" that can be put to good use long after the holiday treats have been enjoyed. Cut a decorative piece of paper to size and place it inside the frame under the glass. Clean the glass and set a cellophane-wrapped loaf of bread on top. Hold the frame and bread together with a wide ribbon.

Clever Candy Dish. Looking for a way to butter up people this holiday season? Start by making a batch of fudge. Then cut a large piece of fudge to fit the dimensions of a new, clean butter dish. In keeping with the theme, include a butter knife for sweet slicing!

Dress Up a Disposable Pan. If you want to give food as a gift, but fret about not getting your good baking pan back, bake it in a disposable aluminum foil pan, then dress it up! Look for a pan that comes with a clear plastic cover. When the coffee cake is cool, cover and wrap with sheer fabric. Attach a bow and a copy of the recipe.

Special Snack Caddy. Transform an ordinary condiment caddy into a unique snack basket. Look in department and variety stores for two glasses and a condiment caddy that can hold the glasses and two soda bottles. Fill two glasses with your snack mixes or other treats. (To prevent spilling when transporting, cover the filled glasses with plastic wrap.) Place the glasses and soda bottles in the caddy. Attach an ornament, gift tag or bow…and you're ready to go!