I always loved making hamantashen with my mom and prepare Mishloach Manot, the food gifts we give to friends on the holiday of Purim. Despite my mother's artistic background, she has a Masters of Fine Arts, her idea of a gift basket was an assortment of goods on a paper plate covered in tinfoil with the recipient’s name written on top with magic marker.
When I started creating my own Mishloach Manot,I didn't really know there were other creative ways to celebrate the holiday. After college, I was living in Washington, DC and became friends with a real New Yorker from Brooklyn who told me all about themes for Purim. She regaled me with stories of some of the crazy extravagant baskets she received over the years. Apparently, people became competitive over making the best and most creative Mishloach Manot. Since she had moved to DC, she was excited to be able to recycle old ideas in this new community that didn't really know from themes either. From then on, I embraced the world of themed Mishloach Manot and have not looked back.
I don't like to spend too much money, especially on packaging, and I limit the number I send so I can focus on quality. I like to include a few homemade treats and a few toys instead of candy. There is an endless supply of good ideas that can be pulled off quite easily. Last year, I did “Sugar and Spice” with a jar of spices, spiced tea, a cinnamon spice candle, Dulce de Leche Hamantashen and sweet and spicy flavored nuts. I packaged it on an inexpensive plastic plate and wrapped with cellophane. One year, I did a movie theater theme using popcorn boxes.
The theme I am most proud of is from a few years ago. My kids were crazy into Star Wars. We all even dressed the part, Obi Wan Kenobi, Chewbacca, Baby Yoda, Darth Vader and I was Princess Lea (I had my long hair wrapped in buns and used a sheet as my gown ). For the Mishloach Manot, I bought Star Wars party favor boxes and filled them with Star Wars toys. I made these amazing chocolate covered pretzel rods that we called Light Sabers (recipe here) and I included some dried Star Fruit. If you can't find star fruit, just make star shaped cookies or star shaped marshmallows. Don’t forget that two hamanthashen also makes a star.
What are some of the most interesting Mishloach Manot gift baskets you ever made or received?