Come holiday season, you can find food baskets, homemade cookies and candies, and the infamous fruitcake everywhere you look.  What’s your friend with food allergies to do?  Next week, we’ll talk about how to host a gathering that makes your gluten-free friends feel welcome, but today, we’ll talk about gift giving.

Gift Basket

Groceries are expensive for gluten-free folks… bread, crackers, cookies, and cereals can cost up to four times more than the traditional version.  A hand-selected gift basket would likely be a welcomed gift… chose a few pieces of fresh fruit, a nice box of cookies, some crackers or pretzels, a package of pasta, even a box of candy, checking carefully for products clearly labeled gluten free.

Another sweet idea would be a homemade trail mix– round up some gluten free cereal like Chex or Cheerios, and create a custom blend with dried fruits, gluten free pretzel sticks, nuts, seeds, maybe even some M&Ms  or chocolate chips.  Pour into a jar, tie with a ribbon, and Voila.

Many don’t know this, but even some toiletries contain gluten.  Another fun idea would be some safe personal care products, such as lotion, shampoo, a nice soap, even toothpaste, along with a candle, pretty hairclips, or comb.

If you want to go out on a limb and make your gluten-free pal something special, you’ll find him or her really touched.  Easiest options are making something from a premade mix, or sticking with naturally gluten-free ingredients. Be careful of cross contamination, such as using pans or utensils that have flour residue on them, as well as ingredients that you wouldn’t expect to have gluten.  Clean pans well, or even better, use disposable baking tins, and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.  If you want to go the mix route, you can choose from cookies, muffins, brownies, even bread!  If you want to try making your favorite recipe from scratch, research online for similar, gluten free recipes that are tried and true.  Gluten-Free on a Shoestring is a great source for safe versions of special recipes.  Many homemade candies such as fudge can easily be made gluten free.  These are foods that many people with allergies regard longingly, as they watch everyone else indulge.  Last year, we made salted caramel pretzel bark.  There was no change to the recipe other substituting gluten free pretzels, and everyone loved it.  A batch of this in a festive tin is sure to bring a smile to the recipient’s face.

Going the extra mile for a loved one who is used to sitting on the sidelines is a lovely gesture, especially during the holidays when delicious foods are everywhere, and so much of it is off-limits.  Feel confident putting together a simple but meaningful gift.

Share your gift giving ideas with our readers.  To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Enjoy the holiday season!