Purim arrives at sundown on the 9th of March 2009, and with it, the obligation for each Jew to send out mishloach manot to one's friends and neighbors.
Last year I made faux burgers. The meat was brownie, the bun was doughnut, the lettuce was green-dyed marzipan, and the ketchup and mustard were red and yellow cake frosting piped in squiggles onto the brownie. I added Krinkle Sticks, which look just like French fries, and I packaged them in boxes I'd gleaned from a local kosher burger joint. Everyone said it was adorable.
Unfortunately it was also bloody expensive. Since then I've been laid off from work and can't afford to do something that elaborate. But the damage is done, my best friends got the only boxes last year, since I didn't know anyone else in our new neighborhood, but they showed the boxes to everyone else.
Now everyone else I know is expecting another completely adorable gift basket instead of the cheap version I was considering (an apple and a pita in a hand-colored paper bag). Help! I need your crafty creativity. I need to make boxes that contain:
I've never used kosher gelatin, but you would have time to try this out...strawberry marshmallows. Believe it or not, they are easy if you have a stand mixer, they are cheap (use frozen strawberries and puree) and they are unexpected by most. One batch makes a 10x15" pan, at least, of good-sized marshmallows. If you can get fresh strawberries, package more marshmallows than fresh berries, in an origami box or some decorative container with a napkin around the fresh berries, I think you'd have a hit (I think I've followed the rules...I use confectioner's or superfine sugar to dust the marshmallows. Google for strawberry marshmallow recipe. I know eGullet.org has a long thread on it.
Go with the apple and pita and put it into something that you can label "Economic and Stimulous Package," since it will be in an economic package and everyone knows that apples are dietary "stimulants!" What person could not appreciate your creative treatment of the hard truth that we are all experiencing. It also breaks any possibility of extravagant expectations for next year. People won't know what to expect, except your creativity. You should be respected for your honesty.
I agree with Thrifty Me. Just because everyone expects/wants a gift, you are under no obligation to make and give out expensive ones. I'd be grateful just to have someone think of me; it would be both immature and selfish to expect something expensive. The apple and pita packaged in a creatively decorated bag sounds fine. Add a homemade, handwritten card/note for a final touch.
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