Eco-friendly mishloach manot containers (that are nice to look at and cheap, too)

In one week, we’ll be preparing our deliveries of Mishloach Manot, gifts of at least two kinds of food that are traditionally delivered to friends and family on Purim. What goes in our mishloach manot? Hamentashen, of course, and if you haven’t tried my great-grandmother’s recipe then you simply haven’t had Hamentashen. We usually make at least one other kind of baked good, and add some bags of homemade kettle corn (the foods in the container should require at least two different brachot.)

But what about the container itself? Many families with young children opt for the ubiquitous paper-plate-qua-hamentashen, mysteriously dubbed “unique” by my friends at Kveller. From an environmental perspective, you could do a lot worse than wasting one paper plate. But esthetically? The Jewish Martha Stewart would not approve.
Of course, you can put your treats in a container that the recipient can put to use for another purpose (a lunchbox, a baseball hat, a bandana, a ceramic bowl.) But, if you are trying be economical, or artsy, or just reduce the amount of “stuff” changing hands (I’d raise my glass to all three), then these aren’t good choices.
Our favorite baskets are made from cereal boxes. We cut off one side, and retool part of that side to make a handle, and then decorate the boxes inside and out with art materials. I led an art workshop last spring where we made a whole tableful of these containers.
If you prefer a basket that closes, and looks a little fancier, here’s a great blog post with a variety of printable templates to lay over your deconstructed cereal boxes.

Photo 163.jpg

This year our family is experimenting with a new container, which I’m planning to make with my kindergarteners as well. Because I try to save almost anything pretty or interesting for my classroom art studio, we have heaps of small bits of tissue paper left over from other projects. We’re going to turn these scraps into tissue paper bowls, which we will fill with a few, small treats. Here are some directions for this project from Family Fun, written by the brilliant Catherine Newman. (You’ve read Waiting for Birdy, right? Right? Trust me, it has nothing whatsoever to do with crafting.) Here’s one of ours, made by my best friend’s toddler. I’m pointing to is so you can distinguish it from my head. Photo Booth does not do justice to the lovely stained glass effect . (On the bright side, it obscures my gray hair nicely too.)
I made the mistake of mentioning the idea of a fully edible basket to my daughters. I’ve found a recipe for making a basket constructed entirely of cookies. Whether I have the time and patience to try it out…..well, that’s another blog post. If you, however, can manage to lay unbaked cookies neatly over a loaf pan, please send me a picture of your results.
What will you be putting your mishloach manot in this year? And what will you be putting in the thing you put them in? Homeshuling wants to know.
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posted March 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm

awesome, amy!
i’m bookmarking this for all my future rainy-day-crafting-and-gift-box-making needs.

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posted March 14, 2011 at 9:07 am

Looks like some interesting ideas. Unfortunately, we are not so creative over here. One of my kids is using reusable water bottles for his packaging, though:)
Have a Happy Purim and enjoy the creations! Thank you for the inspiration.

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Joanna Brichetto

posted March 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I see cereal boxes in my future: a perfect mishloach manot-making activity for programs with young families next year. Thank you for the idea and the pic.
As for the edible baskets, I wonder about pretzel dough instead of cookies? You might not even have to use the pan as mold: just coil up some dough ropes and lay one strip across as the handle. Besides, I think it’s a bit suspicious doesn’t show a picture of the finished cookie basket!

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Never a Dull Moment

posted March 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

We take glass jars (saved up all year on a shelf in the basement), and fill them with layers of nuts, dried fruit and kosher chocolate (mostly Hershey’s products). Cover with fabric and wrap a pipe cleaner around the whole thing. Put a return address mailing label on the side with a note on a sticker for the recipient.

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Galit Breen

posted March 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Love it Amy! So creative and lovely. And really? Who *wouldn’t* want a cookie basket?! :)

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