If you’re anything like me, you’ve been bustling around this week, making lists of…well, darn near everything. Groceries, to-dos, important events… and of, course, with one of the most festive holidays fast approaching, you may also be making lists of people you’d like to include in your celebrations, and what you plan to give them.
I’ve received mishloach manot on Purim that were supremely elaborate and packed to the brim, and I’ve also received bags of goodies that were extremely thought provoking and personal. One in particular that comes to mind was a bag given to me by one of the ushers at my temple, a lady whose friendship I am lucky to have. Her gift certainly showed how much thought she’d put into it, maybe in a little less conventional way. Her pointedly plain, brown paper bag included one small bottle of kosher wine, one apple, one bag of carrot sticks, one bag of prune hamentashen, and one bag of ribbon candy. Included was a note about how each item in the bag requires a different blessing, and that in the midst of all the revelry, we should take the time to remember the holiness in each item. It was a very touching sentiment, one that I will remember fondly for years to come.
There are many ways to put together your gifts of Purim food items. A popular way to arrange your baskets is to create themes, based on whatever strikes your fancy–the season, the recipient’s hobbies or passions, a sports or movie theme, a springtime theme if it’s warm where you are, or a chilly weather theme if you’re still getting snow. It can be kosher foods based on a favorite movie or play, a color theme, anything your heart desires.
I made a few different theme baskets to show you this year.
This happy hostess is stuck in Saint Louis, where we got another inch of ice and snow last night. While hunkered under my blanket with my husband, I thought about some of my warm and cozy comfort foods. And thus, the Snuggle Purim Basket was born:
This basket was super easy to put together. I bought:
- Some 1-quart canning jars
- A bag of raffia
- A rectangular basket, about 4″ deep
- A small 1-cup jar with an airtight lid
- Pre-made ciabatta rolls from a local bakery
- A tin of chocolate chip cookies
I made a large batch of basic vegetable noodle soup. You can also simply buy cans of your favorite ready-to-eat brand. Because the cookies and ciabatta contain dairy, I’d stick with vegetarian soups like vegetable barley, tomato, split pea, etc.
I ladled the soup into the clean canning jar, place the lid tightly, and wrapped with raffia to make a decorative bow. Because this should be eaten quickly, there’s no need to actually “can” and pressurize the soup unless you think the recipient will want to store it. It will keep, refrigerated, for 2-4 days. For artistic purposes, I removed the packaging from the ciabatta and cookies, but you can keep yours on if your baskets will be sitting out a while.
I spooned about a cup of cappuccino mix into my smaller jar. You can use instant coffee, hot cocoa blend, teabags, whatever you like. You can add a note if you like, by writing out mixing instructions on a small tag and tying it to the jar with a strand of raffia or ribbon.
Ray of Sunshine Purim Basket:
To battle some of this cold, I thought–”What’s the most bright, summery activity there is?” The answer was immediate–picnics, of course! What says summer cheer better than red and white checked tablecloths, fresh fruit, and sunshine? Nothing I can think of.
So I put together the “Ray of Sunshine” basket.
This is arranged in an actual picnic basket, and though the photos are too close to see, all the food items are nestled in red and white checked cloth napkins. A trip to Hobby Lobby allowed me to pick up some silk sunflowers and some fuzzy little bees for decoration. They attach with wire, easy peasy.
In this basket, I arranged all your summer picnic staples.
- Cold fried chicken– picked up at a local deli.
- Fresh fruit
- A large bottle of lemonade A canning jar filled with Fresh Garden Salad, decorated in a gingham ribbon.
- Corn on the cob, wrapped in aluminum foil
- Chocolate chip cookies– if your recipient keeps kosher, substitute a non-dairy dessert, such as macaroons or pareve hamentashen.
Even though summer is quite a ways away here in St. Louis, one can always daydream about it. One of my favorite things to do when the weather is warm is visit one of our many beautiful vineyards. My husband and I used to make a monthly tradition of visiting a local winery and enjoying an afternoon on the terrace. So when I asked him for a basket idea, he suggested perhaps revisiting one of our favorite themes.
The “Afternoon at the Vineyard” Purim basket:
This is a smaller basket, but absolutely packed with decadence and deliciousness.
Everything is snuggled nicely into a green satin cloth napkin. You can use raffia or cotton batting underneath to help keep everything in place and fill in any extra spaces–not that you’ll have extra room with all the goodness in here!
This basket contains:
- Two single-serving bottles of sweet Riesling. Any bottle of your favorite wine will work. Or you can give juice.
- Bunches of grapes, both green and red
- A wheel of Gouda (again, any cheese will be fine–just make sure it’s a hard enough cheese that it can withstand room temperatures if it will be sitting out for a while. You can find kosher cheese at any local Whole Foods or kosher market)
- A small tub of hummus. I chose sundried tomato and basil flavor.
- A package of water crackers. I chose “vegetable medley” flavor.
I stuck a few cookies in there to fill out the space, and I also had a small tub of olives–greek and italian, packed in oil, but they somehow got swiped. I think my husband forgot I was making baskets and helped himself to a snack.
Purim Brunch Basket:
And of course, if you or your little ones will be delivering baskets in the earlier hours, nothing beats a Purim Brunch Basket! Give your recipient the best gift of all–a full gourmet breakfast with no dishes and no cooking!
I picked up a few things for this basket, but it’s all super easy stuff to make yourself, too.
I used a basket I had around the house, and just lined it in a remnant of pretty pastel polkadot fabric I bought at a craft store. With prices usually less than $5 a yard, check out your local fabric or craft store’s clearance racks for interesting fabrics. You don’t have to buy a lot, and it always comes in handy for lining gift baskets, wrapping jars, anything!
This one is so versatile. You really can put anything in it.
I chose to add a 2-serving spinach and mushroom quiche. You can make your own, or make a dozen little mini-quiches, instead.
I also bought a couple miniature loaves of pumpkin raisin bread from my favorite Mom-n-Pop bakery, and accompanied these with fresh fruit and two bottles of Simply Pure orange juice.
You can mix and match whatever you like into such a basket:
- Dry cereal and bottles of milk
- Homemade bread, scones, or muffins
- Hard boiled eggs, in the shell
- A wheel of cheese
- Homemade granola bars
- Jars of instant coffee or teabags
Oh, my head is reeling from all the choices!
Whether you copy one of these, or if one item inspires you and you run with that idea into a whole new world of possibilities, your recipient is going to adore your gift and the thought that accompanies it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. Even if your goodies are simple and tucked into a plain paper bag, if you put a little thought and meaning into it, the person who opens it is sure to remember it for years to come.
Enjoy, and happy eating!