Just about anyone who cooks will appreciate a cookbook, but consider making a specialty cookbook of your own. Be it a collection of smoothie recipes, or an anthology of family favorites, it isn’t hard to put together a book that will become a kitchen staple. Want a homemade feel for your cookbook? Photocopy handwritten recipes and attach them to pages of a blank journal using photo corners and throw in a few nostalgic photographs. Looking for something more modern? Spend some time bonding with your word processor and print them in cool fonts on colored or patterned paper before sliding them into page protectors and into a binder.
Other gifts from your kitchen? Make infused vodka by combining a liter of vodka with the flavoring of your choice. Try a few vanilla beans, a combination of vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks, a few pieces of fruit diced into small pieces, a fistful or two of fresh herbs or several handfuls of fresh berries. Add the flavoring to the vodka, cover tightly and let stand several days to a week before pouring into decorative bottles to be given as gifts.
Got little kids? Some of the best gifts I ever made involved my children’s hands and assorted bottles of paint that I already had in the house. Buy an inexpensive box frame and pull out the cardboard insert that is meant to hold the picture in place. Dip each of your kids’ hands into a different color paint and have each one place their handprint on the front of the cardboard insert, forever capturing those adorable, chubby hands. If you have a baby who perpetually puts his hands in his mouth, skip the hands and use his feet instead. Feeling adventurous? Try handprints on aprons, t-shirts and tote bags. I promise you the grandparents will love them.
Go to the penny pinching pros by signing up for money saving e-mails from sites like DansDeals.com, KosherOnABudget.com, KollelBudget.com and OrensMoneySaver.com, which all deliver daily deals to your inbox. Don’t forget sites like JDeals, Kosher Kouponz and Groupon which are treasure troves of goodies just waiting to be harvested.
There aren’t too many people out there who wouldn’t appreciate a restaurant gift certificate no matter what the occasion. Check out GreatKosherDeals.com for a listing of eateries all over the New York area as well as other major cities in the United States and Canada that offer discounted gift certificates, some featuring as much as 25 to 30 percent off face value. Your lucky recipient will never know that you didn’t pay full price and you can rest assured that your secret is safe with me!
Finally, start preparing now for next Chanukah. If you happen to be in a store and you see that perfect gift for your mom, your son or your niece, buy it know and stash it in a corner of your closet. Come next December 16, the first night of Chanukah 2014, you’ll be glad you did.