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I took 6 months off to be with my daughter who was going through cancer treatments. My friends were just great. They invited me for meals. So what I did was I cooked up a turkey, dressing, gravy, veggies, and mashed potatoes and delivered dinners mid week to friends who were working and enjoyed not having to come home and cook dinner. I put all the meals into disposable containers, so no dishes either. That was my pre-Christmas gift to them.
I love to cook, so for Christmas I will buy ground beef and potatoes when they are on sale and make up meat loaf ahead and freeze it. Then the day before Christmas I make up my favorite mashed potato recipe and put them in a pyrex casserole dish and present the meat loaf and mashed potatoes as a gift. Most of my family work outside of their home and appreciate having a meal already cooked. All they have to do is warm it up, add a salad, and/or a vegetable and they have a great meal.