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How To Gift Thoughtfully When You’re Crazy Busy

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photo Via Half Hitch Goods

If you’re feeling extra overwhelmed this holiday season, we can relate. And the idea of buying a bunch of gifts—make that really great and thoughtful gifts—can make your stress levels triple. So, we’ve tapped gift-giving expert Carrie Caillouette of Half Hitch Goods to help, dishing out tips for simple and yummy presents that’ll make the receiver swoon…and won’t break your back (or bank). Below, her ideas for sweet, simple, edible gifts, just in time for the kick-off of the giving season!

-First things first, think about gifts that are thoughtful, but easy to make in multiples. With that in mind, start stockpiling pretty ribbon, boxes, and go-to items like candles, fine soaps, and fancy chocolate for easy gift-giving (and wrapping) in a pinch.

-If you have the time, dig into your pantry and bake something! Palmiers are very impressive, and only require frozen puff pastry and sugar. Then, wrap your making in parchment paper and tie it up with butcher’s twine you might have laying around your kitchen from cooking.

-Sometimes it is as easy as pairing a beautiful hand-carved wooden spoon with a homemade cookie mix. Just layer the dry ingredients in a mason jar.

-Have a winter citrus tree that is fruiting? Bag some fruit with a vintage juice reamer.

-Type up a recipe of your favorite holiday dip or spread and include the raw materials. We suggest a butter bean hummus, wrapped with a pretty wooden spreader.

-Know someone who likes to drink? Type out your favorite hot toddy recipe, wrap it up with some gorgeous cocktail napkins, and good whiskey (we like the Kings County brand).

-Freshly roasted coffee is always a lovely gift. We like this Driftaway Coffee Tasting Kit. And you can take it up a notch by including a handmade porcelain mug.

-Why not gift some DIY mulling spices? Just go to your pantry and voilà! Wrap up a spice bag by placing 8 black peppercorns, 6 whole allspice, 6 whole cloves, 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, and 3 (3 x 1 inch) orange rind strips on a 5-inch square of cheesecloth. Gather the edges, and tie securely with kitchen string or bakers’ twine. Give your pouch with a cute heat-proof tumbler or a beautiful spoon rest.

-Or gift a DIY spice rub for meat. If you keep little weck jars around, use them, or go to the hardware store and stock up on a few mason jars with lids (we like the wide-mouth ones, because they fit hands inside). Here’s a recipe you can use. Or, use this classic cowboy recipe that men on the range made back in the olden days (good for beef and poultry):
1 1/2 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp fine coffee grinds
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tbsp dry mustard
1/4 tbsp ground coriander
1/4 tbsp salt
1/4 tbsp black pepper
Scale the recipe up or down, depending on jar size.

-Don’t forget a card! Throughout the year, always be looking for beautiful and simple little cards and gift tags to have on hand. Tags are perfect to tie on to flowers and any little gift. No pressure to pour your guts out. Just keep your message simple and from the heart.

-To wrap up your gifts, hit up your local corner grocer (or even forage from your own back yard) and grab some beautiful seasonal flowers and branches. Use newspaper, butcher paper, or a paper bag as wrapping paper. Tie it with some simple jute twine or a little scrap of fabric. Use what you have around!

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