From teachers, to neighbors, to friends, it seems like many of us have a long holiday shopping list. Unfortunately, we often run out of creative gift ideas. To help reduce the stress this season, try making some fun, personalized gift baskets with items readily available at Meijer.

Consider these ideas:

  • Create a themed gift basket. Simply go to Meijer with a theme in mind and pick up a few items. How about a movie night, gardening, kid’s activities or something for the sports enthusiast in your life? My favorite for friends is a stress-reducing basket. I like to include a fun container, a scented candle, lotion, herbal tea, dark chocolate and a CD of relaxing music.
  • Line a holiday basket with a colorful hand towel or placemats. Arrange an assortment of teas, 1-2 holiday mugs, a small jar of honey and some fresh citrus fruits.
  • Assemble a quick meal gift for a busy family. In a large serving bowl or colander arrange a package of Meijer Pasta, Meijer Pasta Sauce, a bottle of Red Wine, an Italian cookbook and a box of bread sticks.
  • Line a basket with holiday cloth napkins. Fill with a dozen holiday cookies and tuck in an envelope with a Meijer gift card.
  • Create personalized calendars or mugs with your own photos at the Meijer photo center.
  • Make homemade mixes in a jar. Below are two of my favorites to give at this time of year.

Friendship Soup Mix

  • 1/2 cup Meijer dry split peas
  • 2 Tbsp. beef bouillon granules
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 c. dry Meijer lentils
  • 1/4 cup dry, minced onions
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup Meijer macaroni noodles
  1. In a clean, quart-sized jar layer all the ingredients except the macaroni.
  2. Place the macaroni in a sandwich bag and place it on top of the other ingredients.
  3. Cover the jar tightly with a lid, decorate it and attach a copy of the recipe card.

Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookie Mix

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Meijer white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup True Goodness by Meijer rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup True Goodness by Meijer brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup True Goodness by Meijer Organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup Meijer dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Meijer white chocolate chips
  1. Layer the ingredients in a clean, quart-sized jar.
  2. Cover the jar tightly with a lid, decorate it and attached a copy of the recipe card.

Friendship Soup

Makes 12 servings.

  • 1 container Friendship Soup Mix
  • Additional ingredients: 1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
  • 3 qt. water
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  1. Brown meat and drain. Place in a large pot and add the water and tomatoes.
  2. Add soup mix except macaroni. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for one hour.
  3. Add macaroni and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes (until macaroni is done).
  4. For best flavor, use this mix within one year.

Each serving has 150 calories, 4 g fat, 12 g carbohydrate and 390 mg sodium

Note: To avoid overcooked pasta in leftovers, add the appropriate amount of macaroni to the portion being served.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 28 cookies

  • 1 container Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Mix
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, mix butter, vanilla and egg together until smooth.
  2. Add cookie mix and mix well.
  3. Place by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.
  4. For best flavor, use this mix within 9 months.

Each serving has 100 calories, 4.5g fat, 13g carbohydrate and 70mg sodium

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