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Suggestions needed for holiday goodie bags and trays -- how much? how big?


CatIsHungry
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I plan (ha! Plans 🙄) - I plan on gifting several (about 6) baskets of homemade goodies this years for Christmas and a general “tray” for  Mr Cat’s workplace (he manages about 50+ people, but probably only about 20 -30 will be eating from the tray - they have a lot of ‘paleo’ and ‘keto’ people that work there ... 

 

I am having trouble with amounts ... I’m not sure how much to give of each thing and how much to variety to put in each basket - I don’t want to seem chintzy - but I also don’t want to make them feel like I think they’re a glutton, either ... how big of a basket to I need to buy? Do I need to buy a whopping 4ft basket for each person and stuff that baby full or just get a little 8” little thing - 16incher? ... 

 

Do I pack these things in cellophane treat bags? Bakery boxes? Stick ‘em in an old sock? This is worse for me than sorting through my Christmas recipes 😓😭😲

 

In years past, I far overdid (?is that a word?) things - but I was physically able to - this year, I am not. I would like to get things - if not right - at least close 😁

 

I would very much appreciate any advice or ideas you could give.

 

Cat 

 

 

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Surely you have some favorites (either to eat or to make) from previous years - what recipes are on the top of your list?

 

For Mr Cat's office, consider some sugar free spiced nuts for the keto/paleo crowd.  If it's a leave-it-in-the-breakroom situation, maybe some sort of divided tray nicely arranged.  Or a bakery box with parchment paper dividers.  75 small pieces?

 

How many people will the other gift baskets serve?  Might be better to use small treat bags for those to keep things fresh and separate.  Nashville Wraps has some cute festive gift bags that are heavy duty - something like this with a sheet of colorful tissue and assorted treat bags would be easy.  https://www.nashvillewraps.com/bags/printed-gift-bags/p-672/ptjmco

 

 

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Thanks, @pastrygirl those gift bags are great!   

 

Im all set for my recipes - that isn’t any problem ... What I’m having a problem with is how much / how many pieces to give / how much variety etc ... in years past I always extremely overdid it and this year I just physically can’t do it - I don’t know what a “normal” basket looks like ...

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20 hours ago, CatIsHungry said:

I plan (ha! Plans 🙄) - I plan on gifting several (about 6) baskets of homemade goodies this years for Christmas and a general “tray” for  Mr Cat’s workplace (he manages about 50+ people, but probably only about 20 -30 will be eating from the tray - they have a lot of ‘paleo’ and ‘keto’ people that work there ... 

 

I am having trouble with amounts ... I’m not sure how much to give of each thing and how much to variety to put in each basket - I don’t want to seem chintzy - but I also don’t want to make them feel like I think they’re a glutton, either ... how big of a basket to I need to buy? Do I need to buy a whopping 4ft basket for each person and stuff that baby full or just get a little 8” little thing - 16incher? ... 

 

Do I pack these things in cellophane treat bags? Bakery boxes? Stick ‘em in an old sock? This is worse for me than sorting through my Christmas recipes 😓😭😲

 

In years past, I far overdid (?is that a word?) things - but I was physically able to - this year, I am not. I would like to get things - if not right - at least close 😁

 

I would very much appreciate any advice or ideas you could give.

 

Cat 

 

 

 

 

I like to give an assortment of goodies, plus that lets me cook over an extended period and stash in the freezer, etc. I've pretty much settled on a 12 x 16 or so rectangular tray-basket. That lets you put a central thing -- usually in my case, a loaf of some sort of quick bread, and surround it with smaller things. I get the treat bags from Dollar Tree --they're the perfect size for holding a cup of spiced nuts, a dozen cookies, a few pieces of fudge, a stack of pralines, etc., and there are large ones that work nicely for a couple of cups of snack mix or the like. I usually add a jar or two of homemade jelly, jam, pickles, chutney or such. Sometimes I will do small jars of cheese spread or pate, but they you have to be sure and remind folks to refrigerate it. One year, I did bottles of eggnog, and used the egg whites to make meringue cookies; that was a hit. 

 

Hobby Lobby is a great place to get the trays/baskets. I get rolls of cellophane to wrap around them and tie at the top.

 

I try to stay away from really fragile things that may break or crumble. I will start about Thanksgiving making loaves of quick bread, which I'll triple-wrap and freeze as soon as they cool. Then I can unwrap down to the plastic wrap, and put them in the baskets. Then just fill in around them, wrap them up in cellophane, and there you are! I can tell you another one of the favorites I included one year was bacon jam and homemade rain coast crisps, my all-time favorite snack cracker. I also did homemade pretzels one year; that was kinda fun, especially if you wanted to do homeade spicy mustard with them. Oh, and the regular grocery store pretzels, dipped in white or dark chocolate and then rolled in crushed peppermint sticks, are always easy, fun ad good.

 

When I've had an opportunity to recruit the grandkids into making Christmas ornaments, I often put one of those in, as well.

 

Some other easy but impressive treats to package in small bags include biscotti (I salvaged a really bad fruitcake by freezing, slicing, and baking into biscotti once); cheese biscuits with deviled ham (but you have to do that just shortly before you gift it), coconut macaroons, chocolate oatmeal stove-top cookies, candied pecans, spicy pecans, pecan meltaway cookies, cheese crisp crackers, Chex mix. One year I gifted loaves of homemade yeast bread and jars of apple butter, and that was much enjoyed, too.

 

Hope those give some inspiration.

 

 

 

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Oh gosh, Cat, I feel you.  I used to make baskets for our customers.  Just the local ones that we could deliver by hand to. 

 

I definitely over-did....but, customers raved about the baskets and I would hazard to guess that helped sales a bit ;) .  

 

I wish I had started documenting here when I first started, but here is a thread that describes the last few years of baskets.

 

Here

 

and 

 

Here

 

are a couple more good places to get some ideas from.

 

Good luck and we would love to see your baskets if you have time to post some pictures :)  

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@kayb and @Shelby Thank you so much! The basket and tray size / bags / how much variety is exactly what’s Im looking for ... I swear this stuff is worse for me than choosing what exactly to put in the baskets themselves 🤦🏻‍♀️

 

@Shelby if you don’t mind if I ask - about what size were your baskets you used (Generallly speaking) ???

 

I’d love to gift bread because everyone loves it but - I just don’t have it in me to do it this year 😔 - it will be hard enough to have it for our Christmas table and sending it to the in-laws - so everyone else will have to suck it (forgive the expression) ... 

 

Spiced Nuts are on my list as well as Cheerios Nuts -n- Bolts

- couple of different types of fudge

- couple of diff cookie bars (one cookie butter -one sugar cookie)

- a few different truffles - I’m still deciding but I’m looking at pecan pie, coconut cream, Samoa’s, salted caramel, and there’s a couple more but I can’t think of them off the top of my head)

- Pound Cake Cookies, oatmeal crack pie cookies? But I need to test that first - I don’t know

— homemade marshmallows (I got some mini cutters in winter shapes to cut them out - ha! Plans - we’ll see - might be squares 😉

and hot chic mix,

and - and - dang - i think that’s it?

 

—- I worry about having enough variety 😔 - Dang - I look back at the list and it sure doesn’t look like much 😳 ... darnit 

 

(

Edited by CatIsHungry
Dang I talk a lot - sorry 😐 (log)
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@CatIsHungry, I used to make gift baskets of homemade goodies every year.  I usually had a couple of sizes of baskets depending on family size.  Go with sizes that you can pack full so they don't look skimpy.  I recommend using shallower baskets so almost everything can be visible.  I used to buy them over the course of the year when I saw a good price and pull them out of my stash at the holidays. 

I think you've got plenty of things on your list but I agree with @kayb that a loaf of quick bread or pound cake makes a nice centerpiece.  And they do fill up space if that is your concern.  I saw that you don't have time for bread but you can even doctor up a cake mix into a nice lemon poppy seed pound cake and bake off 6 small loaves from one box.  Something to keep in mind if you need last-minute space-fillers.

 

If you don't have cello bags or wraps for everything, you can use snack or sandwich size zip top bags and just put the zip side down, out of sight in the basket. 

 

With the number of things you've got on your list, you don't need to give everyone a ton of everything, just a few.   Think of those commercial gift baskets - the sizes of stuff they put in there are positively minuscule.  I'm sure anything you put together will be much more generous than that stuff!

 

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@blue_dolphin thank you! Excellent idea for shallower / (smaller to pack fuller) i will definitely do that - I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me 🤦🏻‍♀️ ... Also, on the breads @kayb suggested - I can whip up buttermilk pound cakes like nobody’s business or a quick banana bread lickity split if so feel like I need to “stuff” the basket further ... 

 

*whew* - I am feeling much MUCH less stressed about this - thank you everyone! Stupid baskets were about to make my hair fall out 😂

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1 hour ago, CatIsHungry said:

if you don’t mind if I ask - about what size were your baskets you used (Generallly speaking) ???

 

Oh, gosh....I'd say on average they were between 15" and 21" in diameter (or area that you could put items in).  I'd get this size shrink wrap bags (not at that price that I'm showing...I think they were like 2-3 dollars a piece at Hobby Lobby or Michaels) so I had to make sure the baskets would fit in there.  The easiest were these type of shallow round bushel baskets  (again, definitely not that price--I'm sure you could find them much cheaper).  Or really any round shape basket--the square ones were hard to get the shrink wrap around nicely.

 

I think you have a great variety of things.  Maybe if  you want more  --like I said, I think your items that you're doing sound wonderful- I used to go to Sam's and buy boxes of these crackers , there are 3 different varieties and either put a whole box in (which has the 3) or open up and put individual boxes in.  Then, also at Sam's they had these wheels of cheese--4 wedges and I'd either put a whole wheel in, or split them up.  If I wanted more then I'd buy summer sausage logs and include those.  All that takes up space and adds something savory to maybe balance out any sweets.

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The trays at hobby lobby are only about 3 inches deep. I always get a couple of bags of red and green Christmas filler, or just crumple red and green tissue paper, to fill in and around.

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Also, like @blue_dolphin, I'd watch for good prices on baskets all year long.  What ever was a super good price, I'd buy.  So, I often would end up with deeper baskets and I'd need something to "fill" them with that wasn't expensive.  Unshelled peanuts are AWESOME for that.  Dump some in and then put your other items on top.  

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Something I have done in the past is gone to thrift shops and purchased vintage silverplated trays (nobody's heirs seem to want these and they end up piled up in Goodwill) for $2-$3 and use them as gift trays.   They certainly are memorable because my friends bring them up all the time.   Also, some are using the trays as gift trays to pass-it-forward to others.  

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Goodwill silver trays -- great idea!

 

And speaking of Chinese restaurants, Hobby Lobby also has really cute cardboard take-out containers in Christmas patterns.

Edited by kayb (log)
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@Shelby thanks! Those sound perfect, I think 🤔 and love the peanuts idea - Ingenius 😁

 

@kayb - trays also sound great - maybe I can mix not match 😁 - basket here - tray there etc and those tray sizes / depths sound just perfect for what i need 👍🏻 - thank you! - I like the idea of holiday tissue to fill ... ha! Those Chinese takeout containers might be perfect for some truffles - I’ll have to hunt some down! 

 

@lemniscate - love the vintage trays ... I may give that a go also and just have a hodgepodge ...

 

I wish I had time during the year to hunt things down and purchase and plan then, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do them this year so it’s all sort of last minute for me - I’m just glad i have enough time to test a few new recipes to see if they are “Christmas worthy” or not ... 

 

Y’alls advice has been just invaluable to me and given me great stress relief - I appreciate it very much ... 

 

 

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Hi again lol.

 

I just wanted to add one more thing--and you might have already thought of this.

 

I love the idea of having different shapes of containers or trays etc.  And, if you have the time to configure it all, then this won't be a concern.  However, if you don't have a lot of time, it is much easier to have all the same container  when doing a bunch of them.  That way, you take the time and arrange one in a way that works and looks good and then do the rest exactly the same.

 

Just a quick thought :) 

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1 hour ago, Shelby said:

Hi again lol.

 

I just wanted to add one more thing--and you might have already thought of this.

 

I love the idea of having different shapes of containers or trays etc.  And, if you have the time to configure it all, then this won't be a concern.  However, if you don't have a lot of time, it is much easier to have all the same container  when doing a bunch of them.  That way, you take the time and arrange one in a way that works and looks good and then do the rest exactly the same.

 

Just a quick thought :) 

 

Thanks, @Shelby! I think I’m going to go with whatever works with the fastest shopping wise? 😂 If some match they match - if some things don’t - they don’t - I’m just going to “go with the flow” on it ... 

 

I was talking with Mr Cat last night and I think we decided on *around* Dec 7-10 for delivery time ... most people seem to get their food things delivered after that time and I don’t want to deliver in the middle of food fatigue - I want my homemade goods to be appreciated! LOL Not looked at with “Oh no - not another one 😳” ... Seems kind of early - but kind of doesn’t - so i think I’m going to stick with it. 

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17 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

Sounds like you've figured it out and come up with a comfortable plan.    How do I get in line for one of these fabulous baskets? 

 

ha! @Margaret Pilgrim Yeah we’ll see how ‘fabulous’ when all is said and done 😉😁 - I might be able to sign you up for a ‘leftovers’ basket ... 😉😉

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26 minutes ago, Shelby said:

No it is a perfect time :) 

 

@Shelby Good to know - and Thank you so much, Shelby - your information and ideas have been great ... I am grateful you took so much time to post everything when you thought of it - I know it isn’t always easy. 

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Looking back at this thread (because I've enjoyed it, as creating and giving Christmas gift baskets is one of my favorite things), I see one of your original questions is one none of us really addressed -- how much of everything?

 

I can only tell you what I usually do.

 

  • Spiced or candied nuts, about a cup per small bag, one bag per basket
  • Cookies or crackers, about a dozen per treat bag, one bag each of maybe two or three kinds per basket, except meringue cookies, which I'll for some reason package in larger bags, maybe 18 cookies, and I'm not sure why.
  • Canned goods -- half-pint or pint jars
  • Eggnog -- quart bottles
  • Quick breads -- I usually use my 8 x 4 pans
  • Chex mix or other snack mix -- bags I use hold a bit more than a quart, one bag per basket
  • Pralines or other candy -- 6-8 per bag, one bag per basket, one or two (if more than one kind of candy) per basket
  • Fudge -- a dozen pieces in a container, one container per basket

You mentioned truffles -- I've never made those, beyond the basic Martha Washington candy, but I've found about six-eight pieces of candy per bag is about right.

 

I shoot for maybe 8-10 different items per basket, bearing in mind the centerpiece (the quick bread, in my case) is the largest item and takes up a good bit of space. I can usually put three things on each side and two on each end.

 

Oh, one I forgot was canned pickled quail eggs and chunks of knockwurst sausage. I do those in pint jars, a mix of eggs and sausage in each. Most people have never seen them, and it's a big fascination factor. I have also done what @Kim Shook calls "cheater" pickles, where you get a gallon of hamburger dill chips, pour off all the brine, and then repack them in the jar with sugar and hot sauce and let them sit for a couple of weeks, then re-can in smaller jars. Damn good sweet-hot pickles! I'll usually put a pint of pickles, a pint of eggs/sausage, and then maybe a half-pint of jam or jelly in a basket with the other items. I have done all-canned-stuff baskets, when I had a surplus of that and not enough time to bake.

Edited by kayb (log)
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I'll just add to @kayb's thoughtful inventory and say that I am much less generous. Except for the nuts, where we agree, I usually dole out ~ half of the amounts specified in her post. I believe Kay also brings something in every category (appetizer, bread, salad, side, main and dessert) to pot lucks ❤️ Edited to add that I may bring more than one dish but often just one!

Kay mentions half pint or pint jars.  I tend to go with the little 4 oz or half pints.

For cookies, I'd only do a full dozen of the smaller pressed cookies, otherwise a half dozen is more like it. Cookies would usually be the bulk of my baskets with several types included. 

I use little foil 5 3/4" x 3 1/4" loaf pans for fruit cake and quick bread or pound cakes.  I might include one fruitcake and 2 quick breads in a basket.  Maybe just one in a small basket. 

Not sure how I measure the nut brittles, usually a big, generous handful?

 

All that said, my baskets have usually gone to smaller families.  Often a couple, maybe a few kids. Small treats, not sustenance.  

 

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About all I do in pint jars is pickles. Spreads, etc., as well as jams and jellies, are all half-pints.

 

And generally, I just take a main dish and a couple of sides, or a side and a dessert, to a pot luck. Or, if the main is being provided, I will just bring one side and dessert, or either-or, depending on what it is. I always err on the side of too much at church potlucks, because you never want anyone who forgot about it or a visitor to feel like there's not enough food. Yes, I err on the side of excess. It's hereditary.

 

My late mother-in-law, God rest her soul, was the queen of goodie gift-giving. She either prepared or made cakes (usually angel food; she made a killer angel food cake) for dozens of folks, including her former maid, who was in a care home with advanced diabetes. And she always left a homemade treat/gift (a cake, or a box of goodies) atop the trash can for the sanitation workers. Me, I do well to manage three sets of my kids in-laws, staff at one client's office, staff at my daughter's office, and one or two really good friends. Plus I will make "favorites" for certain other friends; one friend always gets a loaf of "birdseed bread" (King Arthur multigrain), and a container of pimiento cheese. Another gets a quart or two of homemade vegetable beef soup. One gets a pot roast. A new one on the list this year got Rice Krispy treats, because she loves them and contends she can't make them (how can you NOT be able to make Rice Krispy treats???).

 

In today's Memphis newspaper, the food writer posted recipes for a couple of what appear to be easy candy treats. I am not a chocolatier, and have no aspirations to become a chocolatier. But these peanut butter cups and "Betterfingers" looked marvelous. I'm going to try both. Will post recipes if anyone's interested.

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