ugg boots sale Time to fill gift basketsM

Time to fill gift baskets

Muriel Stevens’ shopping column appears Wednesdays. Her dining column appears Fridays. Reach her at [email protected] or 259 4080.

This is the time of year when I spend a good part of my shopping time looking for items to include in gift baskets. I must confess that I have little time these days to create my own gift baskets, but many of you still do, so this column’s for you.

Two of my favorite sources are Trader Joe’s and Cost Plus. Both feature interesting food items ideal for inclusion in a gift basket. Stay away from perishable food items such as cheese. It is much too risky to include, unless the baskets will be completed the day they’re to be given away.

Trader Joe’s has some of the best prices I’ve found for quality baskets, although the selection is not large. The large willow basket I purchased was a steal at just $6.10. Cost Plus has a terrific collection of baskets in every size and shape. Make sure the basket is strong enough to hold many items.

Gift baskets can include everything from fancy cookies and crackers to wine and liqueurs. I like to add CDs of holiday music, bath and beauty items, small one subject cookbooks and really special food items. That’s one of the best things about creating your own baskets there are no limits. Just let your imagination be your guide.

There are plenty of other places to buy baskets. Craft stores such as JoAnn’s and Michael’s have large selections, and they have all the things for wrapping. But for the quality, Trader ugg boots sale Joe’s prices can’t be beat. The basket selection is small, but when a large, well ugg boots sale made basket c ugg boots sale osts as little as $6.10, that’s a bargain. The selection at Cost Plus is much larger and includes many fancy baskets at a variety of prices.

The advantage of shopping Trader Joe’s and Cost Plus is the wide variety of interesting and unusual nonperishable foods they both carry, especially at this time of year.

Cost Plus also carries all the wrapping supplies needed as well. During my last visit to the Maryland Parkway store I discovered everything from Mambasa mosquito netting to reasonably priced excelsior for the bottom of baskets.

Be aware that there is more than one price for excelsior. What I bought cost $1.99 for a bag large enough to fi ugg boots sale ll a medium sized basket. It took two bags for my basket. Of course, I had to search for the lower priced excelsior, but I couldn’t see any difference between it and the more expensive stuff. Colored excelsior is the most expensive, but I prefer the natural color. Put in enough excelsior and it can act as a cushion between items.

Shoppers have to look in every nook and cranny of Cost Plus. Things are tucked away on every shelf. The first excelsior I found was $2.99 per bag. It took a little searching to find the one I bought; excelsior can be found in at least three different locations.

More Trader Joe’s: Not to be included in baskets, but a terrific find for holiday cooking, are the 14 ounce bags of frozen, roasted chestnuts at Trader Joe’s ($3.99).

These are almost too good to be true. The chestnuts are roasted with the shells, which easily peel off after a minute or so in the microwave. Unlike fresh chestnuts, every one of these is perfect. And the texture and flavor are the real thing.