Last-minute gifts from the su­per­mar­ket

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Con­sumer Re­ports

You don’t have to shop way in ad­vance or at a fancy store to get a great hol­i­day gift. You can, if you’re a lit­tle cre­ative, just head to your lo­cal su­per­mar­ket. Even a small, lo­cal mar­ket is likely to have a few items that you can dis­play in a bas­ket or box and per­haps wrap in color­ful pa­per.

Con­sumer Re­ports of­fers some ideas to spark your imag­i­na­tion.

Gourmet eats

• Gourmet bev­er­ages. Grab three or four bags of gourmet cof­fee and place in a box along with fil­ters, fla­vored cream­ers, a va­ri­ety of teas, hot choco­late and maybe some fancy turbinado sugar. Check in the house­wares aisle for a cou­ple of mugs, maybe a nice teapot and some color­ful tea tow­els. If you’re pur­chas­ing loose tea, add a tea strainer.

• Pas­tas and sauces. Who doesn’t like putting to­gether an easy, cozy Ital­ian meal on a week­night? Gather a cou­ple jars of gourmet pasta sauce, a few dif­fer­ent types of pasta (gluten-free, if you must), a hunk of par­ma­giano-reg­giano (parme­san) cheese, a jar of pesto and an­other of fancy olives, a fancy bot­tle of ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil, whole pep­per­corns (best in a con­tainer with a built-in

grinder) and maybe even a hard sausage. In the house­wares aisle, pick up a hand grater for the cheese and a metal colan­der or hefty pasta pot. Ar­rang­ing the items in the colan­der or pot makes for a charm­ing dis­play.

• Choco­late. Whether it’s an in­got of fair trade, 72 per­cent ca­cao, sus­tain­ably farmed from a plan­ta­tion run by in­dige­nous farm­ers in Mada­gas­car or your ba­sic, re­li­able Her­shey bar, choco­late of all kinds is a great present in a pinch. A large su­per­mar­ket may of­fer deep se­lec­tions of bar choco­late from Switzer­land,

Ger­many, Bel­gium and else­where. For fun, choose one brand for each of the 12 Nights of Christ­mas, wrap them in dif­fer­ent types of pa­per, and present them in a sin­gle box to sa­vor over time. Or, if the folks you’re cel­e­brat­ing with are game, un­wrap them all and do a blind taste test, Con­sumer Re­ports style.

Prac­ti­cal Buys

• Bat­ter­ies. When it comes to choos­ing last­minute gifts, this idea cer­tainly isn’t glam­orous. But ex­tra bat­ter­ies will be ap­pre­ci­ated through­out the year. Add flash­lights and can­dles to turn this into a gift home-emer­gency kit.

• Mag­a­zine sub­scrip­tion. Buy a mag­a­zine you know

the re­cip­i­ent will read, and wrap with a note say­ing you’ve ar­ranged for a gift sub­scrip­tion.

• Pre­paid cards. They may seem un­cre­ative, but pre­paid gift cards are pop­u­lar items that don’t nec­es­sar­ily scream “last-minute.”

Con­sumer Re­ports of­fers a cou­ple of re­minders: If you’re buy­ing last-minute gifts, you may be in a rush.

But with any food gift, take the time to read food la­bels to en­sure you’re mind­ful of your re­cip­i­ents’ food al­ler­gies and pref­er­ences. (To be on the safe side, avoid any­thing with nuts.) Be sure to pick up wrap­ping pa­per, rib­bon, tape, cards and scis­sors, if you need them.

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