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Off the shelf @ your local library

 

By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

   I once needed a gift for the hostess of a holiday party on fairly short notice. I wanted it to be unique and not store-bought, so I did a little browsing to see if I could find any ideas for something simple but thoughtful. I was intrigued by a beautiful photo in a book of handmade holiday items. It featured a basket with tastefully arranged kindling and fire starters. (I won’t mention the author’s name, but if you give it a little thought I’m sure you can guess.) I thought, “My hostess has a fireplace, this is a great idea!” Then I read on… the instructions started with cutting an aspen limb into 1-foot sections and allowing it to dry for two years. Seriously.

  I don’t remember what I ended up giving the hostess that time, but I’m positive it wasn’t anything that required two years of prep time. Sometimes preheating the oven takes more lead-time than I can spare. I know I’m not alone when I say that a busy schedule around the holidays makes it hard to carve out time for handmade or homemade gifts, so I try to do as much prep work as I can in the early fall. One of my favorite tricks is to make and freeze cookie dough ahead of time. In case you’re planning an early start, here are a few resources from Henry County libraries to get the ideas flowing:

  Christmas Gifts of Good Taste: Over 200 Recipes & Crafts, edited by Lauren Caswell Brooks. This is one of my favorites, featuring simple but tasty ideas that don’t require special equipment or advanced cooking skills.

  Kwanzaa Crafts: Gifts and Decorations for a Meaningful and Festive Celebration, by Marcia McNair. This illustrated collection of stories, crafts and recipes goes day by day, presenting the principles, symbols, and candles for each.

  If cooking’s not your thing, try Natural Beauty for all Seasons: More than 250 Simple Recipes and Gift-Giving Ideas for Year-Round Beauty, by Janice Cox, which features natural, easy-to-make bath and beauty products.

  Preserving Fruits & Vegetables, by Carol Costen-bader. Includes ideas for both the novice and the more experienced cook. Features helpful storage and buying tips, preparation hints, and gift ideas using fruits and vegetables of each season.

  If kids will be helping with the gift-making, try these:

  Gifts to Make and Eat, by Elizabeth MacLeod. This one assumes that children are comfortable in the kitchen and puts as much emphasis on creative gift-wrap as on the culinary product. Even though many of the foods are no-cook (fancy salt, flavored vinegar), younger children will need adult help; older ones who like crafts and know cooking basics will do fine on their own.

  The Greatest Cookies Ever: Dozens of Delicious, Chewy, Chunky, Fun & Foolproof Recipes, by Rose Dunnington. Something for everyone here (and I like that “foolproof” part!).

  The Kids' Catalog of Passover: A Worldwide Celebration of Stories, Songs, Customs, Crafts, Food, and Fun, by Barbara Rush. Crafts, recipes, games, and more related to various aspects of the celebration of the Passover holiday.

  Check with your library for availability of these and other titles to help with your holiday planning.

 

 

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