Wrapping Gifts from Your Heart, no, not that kind of Rap

I mention in every blog about giving what you make as a gift. I am not sure if any of you have tried that. This time of year gift giving becomes insanity. Trips to mails and stores scattered everywhere leads to many headaches and foul words. Crowds+You might be able to save yourself some misery. You can give your homemade items as gifts. Something that you make in your kitchen means a lot more than an item that you picked up at your favorite super store, or outlet store. Just think about the past. They did not have stores like now. They had to give the things that were made over the year. Baskets or packages were given and enjoyed by the lucky person or family.

(Click on photos for a better look)

Think how you would feel if a family member or friend, or neighbor gave you a gift basket of delicious goodies. You would probably use the gift on that special morning when everybody is present. Breakfast or brunch would be heighten by those jams or jellies or butters. Even a relish would liven up a buffet table. Just a little time and a little effort to make a treasure.

Use Raffia or ribbon or yarn to close up your bag or to put around your jar dollie. All simple and easy to do. Raffia is found in craft stores. Use a rubber band to hold on the dollie before you tie a ribbon or raffia around it. This is easier than having four hands.

BasketLet’s get started with a simple gift. Giving a single jar is easy; just a little addition of things you probably have around the house. This makes your jar of apple butter a special thing for someone.  It is even better if you give them something that you know is a favorite of that person. If they are a “Hot Head” (someone who loves HOT foods), your gift of something extra spicy would be very much appreciated.

Jar DollieA simple method of dressing up a jar is with an old-fashioned way.  A Jar Dollie is a method our grandparents used to make a jar of something more fancy. My grandmother (yes, the lady that started me with my love of cooking) would never put a simple jar of anything on the table. She would do something to make it look not like a jar of jam but a nice jar of condiment. A jar of pickles would not look like a jar of pickles. The contents of the jars along with a nice label and a jar dollie make a very special gift.

Blog Dollie Take a little time and do a little extra to make your gift one that stands out from all others. Make a Jar Dollie from most any cloth. Cut it 5 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches.

Mary Lynn uses pinking shears, the blades of which are saw-toothed instead of straightPinking Shears. They leave a zigzag pattern instead of a straight edge. The sawtooth pattern does not prevent the fraying but limits the length of the frayed thread and thus minimizes damage. Thin cloth works better than thick.


Another way to give single jar for a gift is a clear plastic gift bag. These are found in most craft and dollar stores. Very inexpensive and easy to use, just put you gift in and seal the top.  Most come with a nice twist tie to close the top. You don’t have to be a great decorator or artist to make something look nice. Just a little effort making your gift product, and a little time shopping for your gift bag. You will be surprised at how much better your gift looks than just a jar with no added touches.

Don’t want to use a plastic bag, but still want a fancy gift? How about using your imagination and make a gift tag that looks out of the ordinary. Imagination A little ribbon or a nice gift tag makes a single jar look very fancy. How about cutting up old Christmas cards for your gift tags. Maybe even a fancy label that you make on your computer. Most computers have some sort of label program. You will be amazed at what you can do with just a little effort. You will find that you get more enjoyment in giving these items when you have gone that extra mile.

If you want to give more than one jar or want to use a special basket to hold your products, look around your house. You might have a basket. Take a look at the basket, does it have any special color accent. If so, buy some plastic grass (like the stuff in Easter baskets). It comes in many different colors. Pick a color that will go along with your basket and the color of your products. If you make apple butter you would want something to make the brown color of the jars stand out. Picture 2139If you make pepper jelly, pick a contrasting color so the jars really stand out. Another thing that looks great is look for plastic fruit in the craft stores. Use that to dress up your basket. Spend less on your basket and more on the way to make it fancy. The photo shows a simple market basket that has been dressed up and made to look extra nice. Notice the different types of plastic fruit, and flowers that can make it stand out. You don’t have to fuss and sweat, just use your talents that you used to cook. I always say that you can’t be a good cook if you don’t have a good imagination.

GiftPackages2What?? You mean you don’t have enough time to do these simple things to dress your gift. You can always buy the plastic wrap at your local craft store and cover the whole basket in plastic. You can also buy a big bow to go on your package. It still works, and without much effort. Yes you have dressed your gift. Still not enough, just add a bow on the top and give with a smile. After all, it is all about the contents of the jar that matters.

GiftPackagesIf you are the type that loves to decorate or make every gift something dazzling, the sky is the limit. There are so many different things that you can do to make everything a work of art. You can make special bags for each jar, and different colored ribbon bows. You will find so many different things to sparkle and accent your gift. jardollie8

The person that receives your gift will consider themselves lucky to have someone like you. I have seen some things that people make for jars that I would call a special craft in itself. I have seen people crochet jar covers, sort of like a bag to place the jar into. A gift from people like this is truly an event in itself. Jars that have these covers really need a label telling the lucky person receiving the gift what is in the jar.

Make sure to put a label on your jar. Because of the cover, you don’t have to make a big deal about the label. Just put the name of your product  and the ingredients. The ingredients need to be complete; use all the things you added. This is important because so many people have food allergies. They might react to something you used. You don’t want that to happen.

After you have your gift ready to give, you have to think of the best way to ship it. Mary Lynn decided many years ago to put each jar in zip lock bag. That way if something happened, the contents of the jar would not damage the rest of the package. We used the shipping boxes from the US Post Office for our shipments. P1050061She lined the box with packing straw and then placed the jars in the box. Leave room between each jar so more straw will keep the jars from banging. You might even find other things to ship. Add a bag of potpourri or aroma candles that might match your gift. You might also send along something to remind the lucky person of the people giving the gift. Something like a picture of you making the product or your family in front of a fireplace. Don’t get carried away with the extras, remember the jar and it’s contents is still the main event of the package.

P1030223Make sure to double tape the bottom and top. You don’t want your jars to fall through. You can even send several jars, but make sure that each is in a baggie. You can use styrofoam worms or even old newspapers. Pack the jars tightly so they don’t rattle. You can also use bubble wrap to wrap each jar.  The more time you take in wrapping the jars to keep them from breaking, the more certain you will feel that each of your gifts will arrive just as you wish. You can send 6 – 9 jars in these Post Office boxes.

I guess the point I am trying to make is don’t pack and ship in a hurry. You don’t cook that way. To get the best results take your time; do the little things that make a difference. Do it right the first time and the gifts will be just as you want them.

I know this blog was about something completely different from any of my others, but I felt that you needed to know what we did and how we sent our gifts. No one wants the gifts opened and find a mess. I am reminded of a phrase that is used in other fields, “garbage in, garbage out”. This is not what you want to happen.

It is about that time again, I have run out of space for this edition of CanUCanIt. I would really like to ask for some help in doing my blogs for the next year. I would like to ask for ideas; things you want to read about. Things you might have tasted and would like to make yourself. Maybe even something you remember from growing up that still holds a special place in your heart. Let me know what it is, I will try to come up with the best way I can find to help you with your wants or needs. I am not sure if I will have another blog ready before the end of the year, so let me just say at this time that Mary Lynn and I hope that your holidays will be enjoyable and your New Year be full of cooking all sorts of “old-fashioned” things. I will try to help you along, just tell me what you need.

JellyLady & JellyMan

JellyLady & JellyMan

Don’t forget…. let me know what you would like to make or any ideas you have for the next blog. Also if you have any questions you would like me to try to solve. Just drop me a note at jellymanga@gmail.com.

Don’t keep my blogs a secret, pass the word on to your friends, neighbors and family members. They just might make something and share with you.

Please feel free to share my blog on Facebook or Twitter or even MySpace.com. I want to get as many people exposed to the good things as possible. So share and ask your friends to share, PLEASE.

Don’t forget, if someone asks you can you can it? AaaChef Hat

Say YES I can can it.

About Pete Austin & The Austin House

My wife, Mary Lynn and I had a very sucessful canning business for over 15 years, called The Austin House Jams & Jellies. We had to close it due to pure health. I will be writing a blog about some of the recipes, and how to use them. Also some of the interesting, funny, weird things that have happened in our traveling with the business. If you follow me, you will see that I look at things just a little different than others. If you look at the header at the top of the page, you see that I am looking at things. Making sure eveything looks as good as possible.
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