Gift Basket Ideas for Gluten-Free Friends and FamilyCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63194777@N00/368035586/
If you have someone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity on your holiday gift list, you might be wondering what the best type of gluten-free gift to give them is. If so, the answer depends upon the degree of sensitivity your friend or family member has, as well as whether they have additional intolerances. Some people only need to avoid gluten in foods, but others have to avoid personal care products, household products, and even certain types of kitchen cookware and accessories. That can make gift decisions difficult.
Gluten-free gift baskets make an excellent gift idea for gluten-free friends and family because you can personalize them and design them to fit anyone’s specific intolerances. While you can easily find ready-made holiday gift baskets available online at dealers such as Gifts Gone Gourmet, I Can Have That!, Planet Gift Baskets, Hickory Farms, and even Amazon, here’s how to make gluten-free gift baskets that are thoughtful, unique, and personal.
Know Their Specific Intolerances
There’s no point in giving a gift that your friend, family member, or neighbor cannot use. While the act of giving will still be appreciated, why give something they can’t eat or will have to throw away? It’s a better idea to take the time to find out exactly what that your loved one is intolerant to.
People with gluten problems and allergies won’t mind you asking about their specific issues. In fact, they’ll appreciate your inquiry because if they are sensitive to dairy, soy, or corn in addition to gluten, giving them something that’s simply gluten free can still make them sick. Finding safe gluten-free treats or products to go into your gluten-free gift baskets should be your number one concern.
Pick a Theme for Your Holiday Gift Baskets
Pre-made holiday gift baskets generally focus on a specific theme. That keeps the basket unique and personal. You can do the same thing with your own gluten-free gifts. By putting together a variety of cookies, luscious chocolates, an Italian pasta dinner box, a nice selection of gluten-free flours, some specialty coffees and teas, or a nice basket full of gluten-free snacks, you’ll end up with unique gift baskets that will be used as well as appreciated.
Whether your Christmas gift baskets offer healthy, naturally gluten-free foods such as fresh fruits and nuts, Hilshire Farm's sausages and cheeses, a selection of personal gluten-free body care products, breakfast foods, baking ingredients, or a nice variety of organics, shopping will be easier if you stick to a theme your loved one is passionate about.
Don’t Limit Yourself to Just a Basket
A wicker basket lined with tissue paper makes a nice foundation and gives you an easy way to decorate your gluten-free gift with bows and ribbons, but don’t limit your gluten-free basket to just a tan-colored wicker. For the best gift basket ideas, try to think outside of the box. An Italian dinner basket would look great inside a silver pasta strainer. A fruit and nut basket would look nice in a red-weaved container or a green plastic bucket with a handle and Christmas bow.
A small child might like a basket made out of a dump truck, sand bucket, or doll carriage, and a carpenter would go crazy for a gluten-free gift basket made out of a tool-belt pouch. You could also arrange gluten-free shampoo, conditioner, makeup, and skin cream in a sturdy shoe box covered in holiday paper and filled with straw or cotton.
A large holiday bowl could also be lined with red and green material and then heaped with individual bags of gluten-free pretzels, rice chips, roasted almonds, and cookies. If you have a whole family that’s gluten free, a nice gift basket idea would be to fill a large ice chest with assorted goodies in larger sizes.
Where to Find Gluten-Free Products for Christmas Gifts
Your local health food store or gluten-free setion of the supermarket are good places to start your search for gluten-free gifts, as almost all grocery stores offer at least a few products that are gluten free. But be careful when you ask store personnel for advice as they might not know enough about gluten-free living to help you select safe foods and products. I once asked for help in selecting dairy-free cheese and ended up with a rice-cheese product that contained casein, a dairy protein.
If your friend or family member is only sensitive to gluten, you can stick to food products that are marked gluten free on the package, but supermarkets and health food stores are not the only places that offer gluten-free foods. You can also do your shopping online. Many online gluten-free retailers such as Amazon, VitaCost, and iHerb have a search engine where you can put “gluten free” into the search bar and it will give you a lengthy listing of acceptable gluten-free products for your holiday gift baskets.
Shipping costs are very reasonable and sometimes free depending upon how much you buy. Free shipping deals sometimes take longer to arrive, so you’ll want to do your Christmas shopping early if you’re looking for inexpensive holiday gifts. Many gluten-free items come in small sizes, which would be perfect for a gluten-free gift basket. Smaller sizes would allow you the convenience of offering more variety. There are also a number of gluten-free Halloween Candy lists available online that can help you find name-brand products easily.
If you’re dealing with several food intolerances for the same person, you might want to check out a couple of online forums for that particular intolerance. People who post to celiac disease and corn allergy forums are extremely helpful and supportive if you ask them for gift basket recommendations. You can even get specific brand names from those who actually use and like particular products.
What to Put in Your Gluten-Free Gift Baskets
The type of gluten-free products and foods you select will depend upon the theme of your holiday gift basket, but here are a few of my favorite gluten-free items that are easily available in most areas.
- bags of microwave popcorn
- Blue Diamond Smokehouse almonds
- Fisher or Frito-Lay nuts
- Fiddle Faddle, Poppycock, Screaming Yellow Zonkers popcorn
- Five Brothers, Prego, or Ragu pasta sauces
- Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta
- Tinkyada brown or white rice pastas
- Field Day Organic brown rice pastas
- French’s spicy and specialty mustards
- Hershey’s kisses or milk chocolate bars (not miniatures)
- Milk Way (Midnight dark chocolate bar only)
- Snickers bars
- La Victoria or Ortega salsa
- Lay’s potato chips, Cheetos, and Doritos
- Tostitos and Fritos corn chips
- Mrs. Richardson’s ice cream toppings
- 100 percent maple syrup
- Nestle’s hot cocoa mix
- Smuckers jams and jellys
- Snack Pack chocolate pudding
- Arrowhead Mills brownie mix
- Snapple and SoBe drinks
- Stash teas and Twinings Teas of London
- Sun-Maid dried fruits
- Taste of Thai sauces
- Thai Kitchen products
- hard cheeses
- Desert Essence Organics Fragrance Free Shampoo and Conditioner
- Gluten-Free Savonnerie Shampoo and Conditioner (also dairy-free, corn-free)
- Eucerin moisturizing lotion, skin crème
In addition, See’s regular candy is also gluten free, but not their truffles or decorated specialty items. For additional gift basket ideas, many grocery stores have a special section devoted to gluten-free foods. You can often find gluten-free flours and mixes, pastas, crackers, pretzels, cereals, and pancake mix, and sometimes gluten-free cookies. Bob’s Red Mill products such as gluten-free brownie mixes, pizza crust mix, pancake mix, bread mix and flours are also available in most major grocery stores.
My own local grocery store also carries King Arthur’s gluten free products, dairy-free chocolate chips, and corn-free powdered sugar. Smiths and Harmons carry quite a few gluten-free options, and many grocery stores all carry frozen products. However, regular powdered sugar is gluten free as well as Hershey’s and Nestle’s chocolate chips.
In the traditional baking isle, you’ll also find Better Crocker gluten-free brownies, cake mixes, and cookie mix. Betty Crocker frostings are also gluten free. So are the candy sprinkles and colored sugar near the ready-made frostings if you’re putting together a baking-style Christmas gift basket. Betty Crocker also sells gluten-free Bisquick that can substitute for pancake mix or other baking mixes. If you want to throw in a few spices, stay away from mixtures. Use single spices or herbs. McCormick brand is also safe.
While you might be tempted to make your own homemade jams and jellies, gluten-free cookies, or quick breads, the chance for cross contamination with gluten in a kitchen that's isn't completely gluten free is fairly high. Flour becomes airborne easily and will stay in the air for several days. That will contaminate your kitchen. So if you choose to go that route, make sure you haven't baked anything for at least 3 days, and use stainless steel pots and glass bowls since plastic and non-stick cookwear can hold trapped gluten particles.
Building Unique Gift Baskets for the Holidays
Personalizing your gift basket can be as simple as wrapping the whole thing in plastic wrap, adding some holiday curling ribbon, or red and green pompoms, and a nice card with a heart-felt poem, but personalization also means to keep the person you’re buying the gluten-free gift for in mind.
- What is their favorite color?
- Do they have a particular type of nut or holiday candy they’re extra fond of?
- What types of magazines do they like to look at?
- Do they like to read or watch movies?
- Is there something your friend or family member cannot afford to buy that would make your gift basket unique?
- Does the person enjoy baking?
Most gluten-free individuals eventually learn how to bake.
What type of stocking stuffers could you use to fill in the empty looking spaces? Along with walnuts, oranges, and candy, additional gift basket ideas are a small teddy bear key chain, a decorative coffee mug, and travel sizes of gluten-free shampoo and conditioner would all make your gluten-free gift basket extra special. So would some fun cookie cutters for a gluten-free baker, a family photo in a miniature frame, a snow globe, or a few personalized Christmas Tree decorations.
Just because you’re giving the gift to someone who’s gluten free, that doesn’t mean you can’t add a nice holiday touch in the form of a gift card, a pair of movie tickets, or a even a video game or movie. A gluten-free cookbook would also make a nice stocking stuffer as well as a muffin tin, loaf pan, oven mitts, or unique kitchen gadget.
Dealing with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can be frustrating, especially around the holidays. Many Christmas traditions such as giant, fluffy cinnamon rolls for breakfast are no longer possible. Some people who are gluten intolerant can no longer attend holiday parties and find it difficult to afford the specialized foods they need. A gluten-free gift basket with safe gluten-free foods and special holiday products and touches can go a long way towards making the holidays fun for that special someone.
However, not everyone has the time to put together a basket of their own. Although a homemade gift basket is more personal, there are several companies online who will allow you to build your own basket. Alternatively, you could just order one that's ready made.