Gift Idea – Meat and Cheese

Gift Idea – Meat and Cheese

Meat and cheese gift baskets are a great food gift to give during the holidays. They’re perfect appetizers for entertaining, so hosts and hostesses appreciate the thoughtful gift. There are many brands and variations of the gifts to choose from. Having snacks of this sort handy is a real benefit when family and friends drop by for a spontaneous holiday visit.meat

The Hickory Farms company is well-known for its delicious summer sausage, but they have so much more to offer, and their brand is synonymous with gift giving around the Christmas season. The company even offers free shipping to the military – a very patriotic act by this company! In addition to sausages and cheese blocks, they also sell signature nut gifts and fresh fruit, too.

The Swiss Colony company is a household name, just like Hickory Farms. They are known for their sausage and cheese blocks, but there’s one gift box in particular that’s always a hit. It’s the Swiss Colony Sausages ‘n Cheese Bars, which comes in 4, 6 or 8-piece options.

You can get their 4-piece pack, which includes Kreme Kaese and cheddar cheese, and their original and summer sausages. The 6-piece Swiss Colony gift box includes the previous four items, but you get to add in some Colby cheese and a garlic beef sausage for your gift recipient. And the 8-piece pack gives you all previous selections, along with a Caraway beef sausage log and Swiss and Edam cheesecheeses.

Other brands have some amazing offers, too. A company called Wisconsinmade makes a tantalizing food gift basket called the Deluxe Meat and Cheese Gift Box. It includes beef summer sausage and salami, a variety of cheeses in the flavors of tomato basil cheddar, cranberry cheddar, and roasted garlic. It comes with a cheddar cheese spread and a few mustard options, including stone ground, sweet and hot, champagne, and honey. A box of wafer rolls completes the gift basket.

Check out the Art of Appreciation Gift Basket called Smoked Salmon and Seafood Gourmet Gift Box. It has a fishing themed container, so it would make a great gift for a special man in your life. It includes sausagessalmon fillets, an herb pate, smoked salmon pate, cheese straws, and a variety of crisp crackers for the recipient.

Another excellent gift option for the meat lovers in your life is one of the many selections from Omaha Steaks. A marvelous sampler is their Family Value Pack which includes top sirloins, roasted chicken breasts, burgers, jumbo franks and stuffed baked potatoes. As a chaser, you can also get the Assorted Individual Cheesecakes to keep the holidays sweet.

The holidays always bring savory images of the sausages and cheese logs offered by vendors like Swiss Colony and Hickory Farms. These seasonal treats are a great way to entertain guests or to enable your loved ones to entertain their guests when they receive these packages and baskets from you.


Gift Idea – Special Diet

Gift Idea – Special Dietno no no

At Christmastime, a lot of us take for granted that cookies, pies and cakes are going to be on the menu for the duration. Unfortunately, not all of us are
in a position to enjoy the traditional treats that so many of us enjoy, but as the angels say “Fear Not” because there are fun alternatives for those with special dietary concerns.

Gluten Free

Do you have a loved one or special friend on your Christmas list who is on a Gluten free diet? There are many people going on this now, even though it was originally used as a treatment for Celiac Disease. Now, people are using it as a way to treat autism, to lose weight, and to ease digestive discomfort.

gluten freeLuckily, there are many gluten-free food gifts you can buy online. The Gifting Group makes a Gluten Free Gourmet Festive Twig Gift Basket with Cheese Knife that’s packed with olive oil sea salt crackers, cashews, olives, Busseto salami and Napa Valley Whole Grain Mustard – all free of gluten for that special someone in your life!

Then there’s the Holiday Delight Gluten Free Gift Tower by Gluten Free Palace. This gift includes chocolate chip biscotti, raspberry linzer cookies, black and white cookies, packages of dried fruit, pocorners and jelly bellies that are not only gluten free but are also certified kosher!

Know someone who has a sweet tooth but can’t eat gluten? Try the Gluten Free Cookies Gallon by Apple Cookie & Chocolate Company. This gift is a 1-gallon can filled with delicious fresh baked gluten free chocolate chip cookies. When the mini crunchy cookies are gone the can turns into a coin bank.

Another idea is to make a gift basket on your own! You can find lots of gluten free baking items online or in local grocery stores, and package them into a basket that you buy at an arts and crafts store.

Sugar Free

The holidays can be hard on those who are on a strict sugar-free diet. Whether they’re diabetic or just giving up sugar for some other reason, you can give a Christmas gift that satisfies their sweet tooth.

The Gift Basket Dropshipping company makes the Simply Sugar Free Gift Basket, which includes sugar free chocolates, jelly beans, fruit candies, andsugar free a variety of snacks like crackers, pretzel sticks, cheese dip, popcorn, and coffee – all in a lovely wicker basket.

There are a number of wonderful treats that you can put together to create your own sugar free gift basket such as Gimbal’s Sugar Free Scottie Dogs, miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, the Go Lightly “Just Chocolates” variety, Werther’s hard caramels, Swiss Miss sensible sweets light cocoa mix and Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bars. To add some sugar free baked goods, check out the marvelous recipes in Terry Smith’s book Sugar Free Baking Recipes: Delicious Baking Recipes With No Added Sugar. When you put these treats together with creativity, your loved ones will really appreciate the care you’ve shown.

It’s no fun having to feel deprived around the holidays, so if you do know someone who’s on a sugar-restrictive diet, this kind of gift would perk them up through the Christmas season.

Gift Idea – Tea

Gift Idea – Tea

In many homes around the world, hot tea is the drink of choice while in the American South, sweet, ice-cold tea is a staple. Whether hot or cold, tea makes a great gift at Christmas for friends, family, co-workers or neighbors.

There are many tea gifts you can give to someone, but a few are really impressive. Take the Numi Organic Tea Flowering Gift Set, for example. It tea leavescomes in a handcrafted Mahogany bamboo chest filled with teas just as organic green tea, Osmanthus flower, organic oolong, Jasmine and more.

The initial presentation to your recipient is impressive enough, but inside there is a glass teapot with six flowering tea blossoms that bloom inside the pot when you pour the water over the tea to steep it. And each flower can be steeped 3 times before it’s finished.

The Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets company makes some wonderful tea gift sets for those on your Christmas gift list. Try the Tea Time Treasures Tea Pot Shaped Gift Bag Tote set, which has Enlight-Tea-Ments English Breakfast Tea, Enlight-Tea-Ments Apricot Medley Tea, Longevity Chai Tea Mix, Joy Chai Tea Mix, Peace Chai Tea Mix, Petals Ice Tea Drink Mix, A single sample of premium Ashby’s Tea in Raspberry, Lemon and Green Tea. Along with the varieties of tea, the gift includes Mrs. Grace Lemon Tea Cookies, Too Good Gourmet Raspberry Tea Cookies and a chocolate dipped Silk Crunch Cookie.

The same company makes the Tea Lovers Care Package Gift Box, which is presented in an adorable tea box tied with a satin bow. tea steepingInside, your gift recipient will receive breakfast tea and mixes, along with a big selection of treats like cookies, flavored honey sticks, bonbons, and more.

The WISSOTZKY Magic Tea Box is an 80-piece tea set that makes a great gift. You get black tea, fruit tea, and herbal tea. There are eight total flavors inside the beautiful tea box.

The Sweetest Mom Tea and Cookie Gift Basket is a tea gift set that includes a Mothers Are Forever Inspirational Keepsake Book, Gourmet Cookies, Tea and more in a Sunny Yellow Woven Tote.

The Art of Appreciation You’re My Cup of Tea Gourmet Food Gift Basket is a great choice, too. The wicker basket is shaped like a fanciful teacup! It overflows with tea goodies, including a variety of teas, biscotti, chocolate squares, cookies, and more.

They also make a Victorian Lace Gourmet Food and Spa Gift Basket Set with Clock, which includes tea and a whole lot more – and it’s all packaged in an antiquetea time looking wooden chest that has a clock in it. The chest has English Roses painted by hand on it, and inside is a spa delight – bath gel, body lotion, body butter, body scrub, candles, notepad, cookies, picture frame and tea.

Want to go all out for someone really special in your life who loves tea? Sign them up on your dime for a Teavana tea of the Month Club. They have the Connoisseurs Club, White Tea Club, Green Tea Club, Black Tea Club, and Herbal Tea Club – where your gift recipient will get a new set of tea each month for a whole year! This is a gift for a very sophisticated tea drinker.

Of course, the best thing you can give is some of your own time. Go have a cup of tea with your special someone and celebrate the holidays together.

Gift Ideas – Chocolate

Gift Ideas – Chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate? I know I do! There are so many chocolate gift sets you can choose from – some with nothing but chocolate, and others with a variety of items in the set.

For the refined pallet of a chocolate connoisseur, you’ll want to order the Leonidas Belgian Chocolates. If your loved one enjoys chocolate, they’ll be chocolate opened up to a new world of taste once they have these. You can get them truffles, pralines, and butter creams with many flavors – like Antoinette, which tastes like a smooth Brandy, or Eve, a milk chocolate blend with banana filling.

Harry & David Truffles are one of their signature items. You can buy the milk chocolate version or one that pairs their truffle line with their Moose Munch snack candy and chocolate covered blueberries. They have other candy items you can select for gifts as well.

Chocolate Treasures Gourmet Food Gift Basket by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets is an assortment of premium chocolates in a beautiful wicker basket. It includes delectable goodies such as Amella Caramels, Icewine Caramels and Godiva Gems.

chocolate crewA name every chocolate lover on your Christmas list will recognize is Ghirardelli, and they have a Ghirardelli Deluxe Chocolate Gift Basket that’s worth its weight in happiness. It’s a tremendous collection of top gourmet chocolates, like the Ghirardelli squares, toffee or Espresso chocolate bars, and more.

One of the most popular (and more affordable) options for your chocolate loving friends and family is the Chocolate Sampler Gift Basket by ig4U. This cute woven bamboo basket is filled with treats like peanut butter cups, marshmallows, chocolate covered nuts, truffles, cookies and milk or dark chocolate pieces.

You can find a myriad of other chocolate gift baskets at all sizes and price ranges. Some of the sets are a little more unique than others. The Anthon Berg Chocolate Liqueur Bottles Gift Box is one such item. If you know someone on your list who enjoys liquor and chocolate, then consider this gift. The box comes with sixteen chocolates filled with certain liquors, including Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Jack Daniels, Drambuie, Southern Comfort, Cutty Sark, Ricard, Jim Beam, Sauza, Stolichnaya, and Beefeater.chocolate bite

If you have any Oprah Winfrey fans on your list, or just someone who enjoys hot chocolate around the Christmas season, then consider getting them the Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate Party Box. She featured this on her Favorite Things episode, and it’s been a bestseller ever since. It comes with 18 ounces of their secret hot chocolate mix, two huge goblets to drink from, and the secret to making their perfect cup of hot chocolate.

Gift Ideas – Coffee

Gift Ideas – Coffee

At Christmastime or virtually any other time of the year, most everyone loves to receive the gift of coffee. Some have their favorite brands and flavors they stick with, yet others are adventurous and willing to taste a variety of options.

You can either give someone a gift of coffee itself, or pair it with a coffee machine – from one-cup units to French press choices – there are many on the market. Coffee is a wonderful gift for family, friends, neighbors and scoop

An inexpensive choice for your mail carrier or neighbor is the Coffee Masters Around The World In Twelve Coffees Variety Pack. Sampling the flavors from Africa to Indonesia and beyond will tantalize and delight their tastebuds.

The same company makes a specific Christmas gift pack called the Coffee Masters The Twelve Coffees of Christmas Variety Pack Ground Coffee. It comes in a holiday package and includes flavors like Caramel Kiss, Turtle Sundae, and Cinn Ful Nut, among others.

A charming larger gift option is the Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets Coffee Lovers Care Package Gift Box comes with its own coffee mug and many gourmet flavors such as Jamocha Almond Fudge and Butterscotch. The basket also includes tiramisu cookies and other sweet treats.

coffee with creamHow about a premiere, elegant coffee gift basket? The Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets Coffee Connoisseur Gourmet Food Gift Basket is a delightful, high-end gift for that special someone on your list. In addition to the delicious coffee flavors they include, such as Columbian, Butterscotch and Jamocha Almond Fudge, you’re also giving an array of chocolate sweet treats like Java Bon Cappuccino candy, Chocolate Espresso Cups, and more.

Then there’s the Coffee Caddy Gourmet Food Gift Basket made by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets. It comes with premium coffees, latte mixes, and many treats to soothe a sweet tooth.

coffee cozyOne unique coffee gift idea is the Coffee Sampler Gift Basket by ig4U has a four-piece worldwide coffee selection, and includes coffee trimmings like raw sugar, stirrers, creamer, mug and sweets. It’s presented in a basket made of bamboo with a beautiful ribbon.

The Crazy for Coffee Gourmet Food and Snacks by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets is a genuine treat for your friends and family because it includes a wide assortment of coffees and drink mixes, all paired with rich sweet treats like Latte Candy and Chocolate Espresso Beans.

Do a bit of research on which kind of coffee your Christmas list members might enjoy most. Do they prefer premium coffee, espresso, or cappuccino? Do they already have a coffee maker or would you like to get them one? Coffee is a marvelous year-round gift, but it’s particularly appreciated during the chilly winter months, when a cup of coffee from you will warm their bodies and their hearts.

Test your skill with 3D Maze Balls

Toyland Tuesday

Test your skill with 3D Maze Balls

Way back in the dusty, distant past, I had a little cube maze that my parents had in the coffee table drawer. The cube was about the size of a Rubik’s Cube. It was transparent. It had 7 or 8 layers and a tiny metal ball to traverse the maze. It was quite challenging, but the tunnels were entirely enclosed. As such, the worst that could happen was that boredom or frustration might end the maze run prematurely.

Jump forward to today and the challenge is now considerably more daunting. Today’s mazes are free-standing structures within a plastic ball. The maze runner is a small silver sphere that has an unfortunate tendency to go kerplunk on the bottom of the ball. The maze is truly 3D. You will need to negotiate stairs, spirals, ramps with no side-rails and even drop through a hole that requires 90° or even 180° turns of the sphere.

Creator of the Perplexus, Michael McGinnis, has a lifelong passion for mazes. He figured a way to use every surface of the maze elements as a pathway for the runner. His work has been widely imitated and a variety of 3D Maze Balls are currently available. The main advantage of any of these educational toys is that it requires no batteries. The maze is powered by your own determination to master the challenges presented.

The various 3D Maze Balls are listed as being appropriate for ages 7-15, but they are devilishly addictive at any age. Younger children will be proud to have gotten even halfway through the maze. It is also a great toy for teaching perseverance. I cannot help but sing the praises of a toy that challenges mind and body, dexterity and willpower.

My own son has two of these mind-bending mazes. They’ve provided hours of amusement for him and the rest of us. Moving that shiny little ball every which way can hook you in for hours. Getting it all the way through the obstacles is a great rush of triumph.

This is a wonderful toy that can provide hours of mental stimulation for children of any age.

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit

Toyland Tuesday

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit

My kids have this kit and it is wonderful on so many levels. It encourages creativity. It teaches the basics of electronics. It’s safe and fun.

The kit comes with a variety of snap on pieces that form the circuit necessary to create each project. A colorful instructional manual spells out exactly which pieces to use in order to create a number of different devices with flashing lights, a siren and a rotor. This toy is safe for kids as young as 7 and creates a fun space where young children can build their STEM skills.

This kit requires two AA batteries that are not provided, but if your household is like mine you’ve already got a cookie jar full of batteries on the shelf somewhere.

I can’t recommend this product strongly enough. My children enjoy playing with this electronics set and I’m sure yours would too.

How Christmas Parties Can Help You Win The Game Of Thrones


How Christmas Parties Can Help You Win The Game Of Thrones

Christmas parties are festive occasions for family, friends and co-workers. Who you invite and who you don’t can be a matter of practicality or it can be a calculated snub. Some people play power politics on the job and at home. Such people might invite the folks they want to impress. Some can be as calculating as a Lannister.

Truth is, big Christmas parties used to be the domain of royalty. Aristocrats put on lavish affairs to demonstrate their status and show up their peers. They were as boisterous and outlandish as anything George R. R. Martin envisioned in the lands of Westeros. In 1213, King John of England ordered 10,000 salt eels from the Sheriff of Canterbury! Another of the king’s orders listed 1,000 hens, 200 head of pork, 100 lbs of almonds, 50 lbs of pepper, 24 hogshead of wine, 2 lbs of saffron and other supplies.

In the time of the Tudors, the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany were a time of wild revelry, jousting, card playing and visiting relatives. All work ceased and even women’s spinning was set aside. The idle spinning wheels were decorated with flowers. The Tudors also beat us to the punch on the Turducken. A Tudor Christmas Pie consisted of a pigeon stuffed in a partridge stuffed in a chicken stuffed in a goose stuffed in a turkey surrounded by a stew of rabbit and game birds baked in a crust that was aptly called a coffin.

christmas-partyChristmas was driven underground during the Puritan rule of England, but it began to grow in popularity again once the monarchy was restored. As Christmas was popularized for the middle class, holiday parties became a chance to jockey for influence. In olden times, it was a formal arrangement to declare the Lord of Misrule to serve as king for a day. Of late, it seems to be the wag who drinks too much and thinks too little of the damage to be done to his or her career. However, with the changing centuries, what was old is new again. The decadent romps of the Middle Ages are echoed in the halls of power today. Whether that is financial or political power, you’re likely to find the Machiavellian ladder climbers schmoozing their patrons and the less forward thinking participants photocopying their posteriors.

So be wary, gentle reader. If you are invited to a Christmas party, it might just be egg nog and cookies. But then again, it might be a doorway to your next step on the ladder to power. Play your cards right and you might just survive the Game of Thrones!

Epiphany and Shortbread Day

Epiphany and Shortbread Day

Like the wise men of old, we have finally arrived at our destination. Here we are at the official end of the holiday season. I hope you enjoyed the ride!


Epiphany It’s generally held that the magi didn’t arrive until Jesus was about two, but that would make for a really long holiday season (fine by me). We’d also have to wait another thirty years or so for Easter to come around, so it’s nice to be able to condense it down to meaningful liturgical seasons.

Another thing that I’m pretty adamant about (given that I created a site on the topic) is keeping the season in the season. I’ve seen a number of things over the years that try to drag the symbolism of Easter into the season of Christmas.


There’s a reason why the seasons are separate. If you want foreshadowing, you only need to look at the lyrics of We Three Kings.

I guess I’m one of those guys who likes to keep his carrots from touching his mashed potatoes on the plate, but fair’s fair. Let Christmas be Christmas and let Easter be Easter.

National Shortbread Day

Is there anything more tasty than a rich Scottish shortbread? You can get so many variations of this classic treat online and from the stores, but you can go old school and make it yourself:

  1. 1 part white sugar
  2. 2 parts butter
  3. 3 parts flour

That’s the simple formula for a tremendous holiday treat that you can enjoy anytime.

Shortbread Day

Fruitcake Toss Day and Buffet Day

Fruitcake Toss Day and Buffet Day

We’re tripping happily along through the Christmas season and today we’ve got a very silly holiday to celebrate. Tossing fruitcakes is a hungry business, so it’s best to follow it up with a trip to your favorite buffet establishment.

The Great Fruitcake Toss

Fruitcake Toss Some people just don’t appreciate a tasty treat. For those who are on the hater trail, they’ve made a holiday out of throwing your fruitcake away. Far away. As far as you can physically throw the thing.

Some people suffice to just toss it in the trash after the guests have gone home, but the people of Manitou Springs, Colorado, decided to make a full fledged sporting event of it. In years past, they had catapults and pneumatic cannons, but recently they’ve gone back to the basics. The Manitou Springs event inspired others nationwide. If there’s not a fruitcake toss event near you and you’re not inclined to eat it, you can always start one in your town.

Buffet Day

At this point, you’ve been cooking for weeks. You might want to consider treating yourself to a night off. Let someone else do the dishes.

But where to go? Someplace where everybody has their choice of what to eat. Let the salad eaters have their greens and the beef and potatoes types can get get rough and rustic.


It’s the Ninth Day of Christmas and we’ve actually got nine ladies dancing today!

Nine Ladies Dancing

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