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December 2000 Issue
by Ronda L. Halpin
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For Coffee & Tea Lovers

  • Anyone who has a serious relationship with coffee or tea will gladly accept a gift of quality beans or leaves nestled neatly in a mug of your choosing. The key with this gift idea is to choose an assortment of beans or leaves that you know will impress and tuck them into a mug with a very personal meaning to the recipient. You may want to choose a mug with a touching verse or a special inside joke. Be creative here!

  • Building on the mug theme, you can expand your gift by including a tea ball, chocolate-covered espresso beans, cinnamon sticks, biscotti or even any one of the large assortment of coffee or tea cookbooks available (we chose Totally Coffee Cookbook by Helene Siegel and Karen Gillingham). You might even want to include your favorite recipe for biscotti -- check the Seasoned Cooking recipe index for some of our favorites!

For Seasonally Themed Giving

  • Since it is the season for giving, why not treat someone to a gift that's geared towards the season itself? A holiday basket starts out with an appropriately-themed basket -- anything from a green and red woven basket to the shiny metal sleigh that's pictured will do the trick -- and is then filled with a selection of things that help make the season bright. We filled our holiday sleigh with Betty Crocker's Best Christmas Cookbook (although any of the numerous holiday craft or cookbooks will work), a assortment of our favorite chocolates (after all, what are the holidays without a few sweets?), some decorating sugar for adorning all the homemade goodies of the season, a festive shortbread cookie press and, of course, the traditional holiday treat -- a hefty candy cane. It's certainly a top notch way to spread a little holiday cheer!

  • Spices make great stocking stuffers -- especially if the stocking is also part of the gift! Why not treat your favorite cook to a beautiful velvet Christmas stocking (or any beautifully-made stocking) filled with some of the spices that are so much a part of the season? Include bottles or bags of ground or stick cinnamon (it's perfect in cookies or to mix warm cider), ground or whole nutmeg (it's a necessity for eggnog and is perfect grated over creamy coffee), whole star anise (the beautiful licorice-scented seed pods make great additions to potpourri), pure vanilla extract (an essential ingredient for holiday baking) and whole cloves (perfect for studding everything from whole oranges for decoration to smoked ham for Christmas dinner).
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