laurenlikestocook

…and I Thought I Wasn’t Crafty

In American, Breakfast, Fruit, Holiday, Oats, Saving Money on March 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I’ve always been a great gift-giver.  I think long and hard about what the recipient doesn’t have and would surely want or need (Ferraris excluded), and their satisfaction with my efforts makes me feel good about myself.  What I suck at is “packaging” – a word that reminds me of the 4 Ps of Marketing 101’s past.  You can have an awesome product, but if you don’t package it well, you’re brand can be doomed to failure.  And I want to be an Oreo, not a Hydrox.

I constantly try to improve my wrapping and bow-tying, paying close attention to the gift wrappers during the holiday season.  However, my packages never look clean, crisp, or pretty.  It basically looks like my husband wrapped it.  I never get the tissue paper in a gift bag perfectly angled and crinkled.  I can’t even curl ribbon with a scissor.  I am in awe of people who can do all of that.  Or scrapbook.  My ideas of creativity flow through my fashion and my food.  The latter medium actually does involve some re/construction (unlike my sister, I have not successfully mastered turning old jeans into jean shorts).  Unfortunately, a plate of hot food doesn’t stay hot for very long in a gift box.

Last month was a friend’s birthday, and I struggled to think of what to gift her.  Like with many of my friends, we often talk about food and what we love to eat.  She was a particular fan of Starbucks oatmeal.  I would constantly tell her how she could make it herself for a fraction of the price and calories, but like the rest of busy professionals she couldn’t find the time.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  I know; I’m in the future also.

I figured I could assemble a mix of oats, fruit, nuts, and spices that my friend could easily pour into a cup and nuke at the office while checking emails.  However, I wanted to make this look pretty.  There’s a big difference between wrapping a box of instant Quaker and packing wholesome ingredients in a pretty container.  Thanks to Google, I found this recipe as a base: http://blogs.familyeducation.com/parenting/moms/sweet-pea-chef/gifts-from-kitchen-20.  I changed up some of the ingredients, subbing dried blueberries for cranberries, and dried dates for brown sugar.  Anyone can use cranberries, but blueberries are so much more special!  They are also full of fiber.  Same for dates.  I also made 1.5 times the quantity, because bigger is better.  Except for your tush.

Using my faux slap chop, I chopped up the walnuts.

Then I finely chopped the dates with a knife.  They are way too sticky for the chopper.

I measured out the rest of the ingredients and created an assembly line.

Then I grabbed a large mason jar and added one third of the oats.

Then I added 1/2 of the blueberries…

…nuts…

…dates…

…and cinnamon.

I repeated the layers again, and then topped it off with the last third of oats.  Look how pretty the layers look!

Then came the craftiest part…the label…and a bow!  I fumbled around in Word to find the pretties font and type uo the instructions.  I also typed up the ingredients and nutrition information.  Then after 5 attempts with templates, I finally got the business card stock to print out right.

I found a piece of ribbon to use (must have been from a gift I received) and looped it through the hole I punched in the tag.  Then I wrapped it around the rim of the jar and tied a bow.  I cried I was so proud.

When I met my friend for dinner for the birthday celebration, I passed her a gift bag filled with this jar and some other goodies.  She was so happy and couldn’t believe how crafty it was.  She said she wished she could be so creative.  I laughed and said I wish for the same thing.  She even applauded me for adding the professional touch of including ingredient and nutrition labels, just like a real retail product.  I didn’t take a photo of this info.  However, I did save the Excel spreadsheet I used to calculate the nutritionals.  Just for my own curiosity, I also summed up the Starbucks version with all the addins.


Can you believe it?  Not only do they steal your hard earned 3 dollars, but they also add in a bunch of sugar and calories to boot.  If you want to spare yourself from highway robbery (exaggeration, I know), just spend 5 minutes prepping a jar at home and keep it at your desk.  And if you want to be a good friend, you can do the same for your pal at holiday time.  You don’t even need to have good handwriting (another skill a lack) or REALLY know how to tie a bow.  All you need is some TLC, the internet, and a big smile.  It worked for me :).

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