Present heaven

Cover‘Tis the season to buy presents. How you feel about it may depend on who you are buying for. I love buying presents for children, but young men stump me every time. No matter how much I love them they’re enigmas to me and it doesn’t seem to help to ask their parents – they’re just as much in the dark.

Recently I bought dresses as birthday presents for two of my great-nieces and they were a roaring success. I delivered them on Saturday, and on Wednesday their grandmother rang to say they were still wearing them because they refused to take them off. Forced to give hers up to be washed, one of them would only wear her knickers until it was ready to wear again. The Force is obviously with me, so it’s Christmas shopping here I come.

One bibliophile writing in the New Zealand Herald recently  said she got her passion for books from a great-aunt who unfailingly bought them as birthday presents for each of a large brood of great nephews and nieces. She sounds like the perfect great-aunt to me and I intend to emulate her. For me it’s Christmas that means books though, and it’s a tradition I mean to maintain.

CoverSo how am I going to reproduce my recent success? Well I’m probably not, but my best chance lies with consulting some lists on the library website. For the children the Award winners list is a good bet, although I may need advice on as to what is age appropriate. A good holiday read always goes down well, but perhaps best of all is to get if from the horse’s mouth – on the kids blog. For young adults, try the Pulse holiday reading

For adults our website has put together Best Reads with staff recommendations and ‘best books lists for 2011. If your adult has specialised interests try our booklists on the catalogue, they cover all sorts of  areas from cyberpunk, to the 2011 Man Booker longlist and New Zealand’s top cooks.

None of which helps with a 22 year old male who doesn’t read at all, sigh …

You’ve still got time to make some edible Christmas presents!

Cover of "4 ingredients"Christmas day is less than 10 days away, but you’ve still got time to make some delicious edible presents…

If you are running short of time and you want some simple recipes with a short list of ingredients, try 4 ingredients. This handy little book contains a wide range of recipes for treats like chocolate or rum balls, fudge (the lime and macadamia fudge sounds particularly enticing), and biscuits, along with many other mouth watering goodies, so it is definitely a must read!

Homemade jams make a great present, but if you think that jam-making sounds too time consuming and messy, why not try making it in your microwave? ‘Bird of Paradise Pineapple Jam’ from Quick & easy one pot of jam from your microwave sounds absolutely divine with ingredients like pineapple, persimmon, apple, and lime. It is described as being deep orangey-pink in colour with a delicious taste, and apparently makes for ‘a lively addition to a cheese board…’ I haven’t made this myself yet, but it is on my (growing by the day) ‘to do’ list.

Cover of "Preserved"For those of you that have an abundant veggie or fruit garden you may be thinking of ways to turn your homegrown goodness into presents. If you’ve got oodles of lemons, for example, there are lots of options like: lemon cordial, lemon honey (an old favourite of mine), preserved lemons, or lemon oil.

Recipe books like Preserved will help you to turn your lemons into edible presents, but beware, it is easy to become quite distracted when you start leafing through the glossy pages of close-up photos of fig jam and oranges in brandy!

Using herbs from your garden to make a jar of pesto is another option you could try. If you have a large supply of parsley at the moment (like I do), just use a standard basil pesto recipe and replace the basil with parsley. Delicious!

So in the lead up to Christmas, why not put a few minutes aside and crank up your creative side?