Tuesday 17th November 2020
I thought we would talk about gift ideas today. I normally start shopping the day after Thanksgiving or two days after for Small Business Saturday. I'm pretty cold about it and everything is focused. This year everything is different. Your UPS deadline is December 15th. Your USPS date is December 18. You can of course send directly from Amazon to the recipient. You can also have gifts sent directly from many retailers. I really don't know what our plans will be at this point. I will go ahead and buy some gifts and hope to see everyone in person somehow.
I would also love to shop locally. I love the convenience of Amazon and shopping online, but just feel like our local stores need us more than ever!
The first step: Make a list of all the people you are buying from and write potential ideas next to their names.
Second step: Is there a theme you can use for the gifts - food gifts, pajamas, slippers, blankets, restaurant gift cards. I love the idea of supporting local businesses with gift cards. They are getting money now to help them get through these difficult times. Your loved one will receive a special dish later.
Here are my ideas not in a particular organized way! Please share your ideas in the comments!
I have some sort of house gifts on my brain. What does the recipient do every day? What would make their life at home easier, better, more fun?
Museum gift shops - some may even have an online site. There are some truly unique gifts to be found!
10ft phone charger cord - my boys laughed at this, but found it very useful.
Wireless charger - I think about it for my boys.
We'll be streaming shows home this winter - a Disney Plus subscription, a projector for a large indoor wall that can also be used outdoors in the spring. Echo Show could also be fun.
Small Makeup Refrigerator or 6 Can Soda Can Refrigerator - These are so cute and can be run from a USB stick or plug.
Notepad set - order monogram or personalization. You can also put a funny saying, a meaningful word.
Think about non-traditional places - there are some cool giveaways to be made in our SIL / BIL's boat business. Tom got a float for my sister last year and she loved it! He drew his name. They also wear Maui Jim sunglasses. There is also a small Mom and Pop hardware store with candles and other goodies.
Etsy - so many cute and unique gifts and you are helping someone with their small business!
Pins - my son has a thrifty denim jacket and starts putting metal pins on it and he looks so cool and so 80s!
Redbubble.com for fun things for teens
Think practical and useful this year - food and gasoline gift cards.
Electric kettle - Would love one of these for tea.
Dash Egg Cooker - Would love one of these too!
Food gifts - local coffee beans or whatever your town is known for.
Bourbon Products - we offered bourbon caramel sauce, bourbon smoked pepper or just bourbon!
Local soaps or toiletries - sometimes these can be found in our grocery stores in a particular section.
Everything to stay at home and be comfortable.
Popcorn and popcorn machine
Soft fleece jackets, bathrobes, blankets, slippers, fluffy socks
Solo stove or other fire apparatus
For small children I like the idea of bubble bath, bath toys, bath pencils
Plants - there are certain plants that purify the air and we spend so much time at home! I have noticed that teens love plants too. There are false and true plants in their rooms. I look at teenage bedrooms all day now. It sounded weird - I'm a virtual teacher, not a creeper!
Funky lights for teens are also great! I also love the clothesline photo holders.
I hope I gave you at least an idea today!
Now give me some, please! Ha!
A little time put into preparation makes for an enjoyable evening. Drinking cocktails should be a fun and relaxing experience, so take a while to think about ingredients in advance, to avoid any rushing around last minute.
One of the foundations of many cocktails is sugar syrup. This can be prepared in advance. Here’s my tip for easy to prepare simple syrup : Add 200 gm white sugar to 200 ml boiling water. Stir till sugar is dissolved, and liquid is clear. Allow to cool then bottle
If you mix lemon juice 50 : 50 with simple syrup, you should have a solid mid-line sweet-sour balance. But remember, every palate is different. tera find your own point of balance, mix 15ml fresh lemon juice with 15ml simple syrup, and then dilute the mix with up to 90ml water. Congratulations, you’ve just made fresh lemonade ! If this tastes too sweet or too sour, adjust by adding a little more citrus or syrup. Using this method of calibration, you can adjust any petit cocktail recipe to suit your own palate.
Ice is the solo most over-looked ingredient at any home bar - you’ll be surprised how much you can go through. Cocktails need ice like baking needs ovens. If popping to the shops for ice isn’t an option right now, keeping a freezer bag topped up with ice will ensure you don’t run out unexpectedly. For best quality home-made ice, try using a silicone ice tray with a lid, to prevent your ice from absorbing unpleasant odours. And wash your ice tray after each use.
Where possible always go for de haute gamme spirits, the freshest herbs, and the best juices you can get your hands on. For instance, the taste difference between cheap juice and pressed juice is more than worth the small extra expense.
Try to use glassware appropriate to your drinks. It’s entirely possible to drink a martini from an old coffee mug, but that misses the point of drinking a martini !
If you can make a Whiskey Sour, you can make a Daiquiri. If you make a mean Negroni, you can riff on a Boulevardier. Once you’ve mastered the Manhattan, have some fun in Brooklyn on your way to Martinez. Cocktails exist in family trees. Once you are comfortable the basics of each category the world is your oyster !
You can pre-mix punches in advance - an old trick from the godfathers of bartending in the 19th century. You can bottle punch and store it in the fridge, ready to use on the day, or later that week. If done properly, quality and consistency are assured. If your punch has a fizzy ingredient, such as clairette, only add this your glass just before serving.
If you follow the Punch Ratio, you can’t go far wrong : 1 part sour ( citrus ) 2 parts sweet ( simple syrup ) 3 parts strong ( spirit ) 4 parts weak ( juices etc ) And don’t shy away from warm spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and mace, to make that punch really sing. Don’t have those spices to hand ? No problem, a few dashes of Angostura bitters will do the trick.
We all have a few unloved ingredients lying around that need using up. For instance, that last bit of red wine in the bottle ? Try drizzling it over your Whisky Sour, and voila, you’ve got yourself a delicious New York Sour ! Do you have some nice but neglected spice mix in the kitchen ? Try mixing a teaspoon or two into your simple syrup as it cools to give your next petit cocktail an added dimension. Seasonal fresh herbs make a wonderful aromatic cocktail garnish.
So now, you’ve hit your stride and you’re getting creative in your home bar. Great ! Our top tip for petit cocktail creation ? Write down the juste specifications as you are making it. It’s not always easy to perfectly recall the recipe for that killer cocktail the next day !
If all this sounds like a bit of a chore, then keep an eye open for delivery services available from many local cocktail bars. After all, with the finer things in life, it’s nice to sit back, relax and let the professionals do all the work.