Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Ideas for Chinese New Year Hampers

A friend asked for some gift basket tips for this coming Lunar New Year, The Year of The Rat! A brief survey of the supermarkets showed that this year 2008, 'PACKAGING' is THE marketing strategy... huh? .. lots of beautifully packaged cookies & other New Year goodies in keepsake tins, boxes & baskets. Hey! Even the good-old 'Essence of Chicken' is sold in a metal gift basket complete with a large gift card. Emphasis on PRESENTATION ... A spill over from the Mooncake Festival, I guess.

It makes sense. Gift hampers always consist of the same old CNY sweetmeat & dried sausages, groundnuts, cookies, abalone, oranges etc. By dressing up the packets & cans attractively, shoppers are saved the hassle of wrapping! Just pop it into a carrier bag & you have your gift hamper! :)
Note: Carrefour has sturdy, red CNY paperbags (31cm x 38 cm) for less than RM1

Guess what's inside this package --->

On the downside, would be the EXTRA COST of packaging which would definitely be passed on to the customer! And, all these extra packaging would be thrown away after its contents are consumed thus adding to the INCREASING RUBBISH, which is already reaching gigantic proportions.

The concept of REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE :

REDUCE : First, we should try and REDUCE by not having too much packaging eg. items wrapped in small packages and re-wrapped in a plastic bag & then placed in a decorative box. Buy in bulk or large packets.

REUSE : Maybe we can give CNY goodies in containers that the recipient can use again like a beautiful fruit bowl or basket (but give a thought to the recipient's's taste & lifestyle. What looks cute to you may be too garish for their style). Buy cookies in large quantities (or bake it yourself- would be even tastier, cheaper & special!) and put them into nice airtight containers. I would normally collect containers/wide-mouth bottles throughout the year and use them to store cookies which I give as presents! Stick some cutouts from past New Year cards or angpow packets. If you are into glass painting, do some simple stripes, waves, dots to liven up the bottles. Write a gift note & suggest that the recipient re-uses it as a vase, pencil holder or container. Decorations can be made from last year's CNY cards & angpow wrappers.

RECYCLE : This should be the last resort!! Each time a festival or celebration comes, the mountain of rubbish (organic & inorganic) grows. In your busy schedule, please spare a thought & separate out your paper, plastic, glass & alumunium wastes. Maybe you should seriously think of cutting out the packet drinks & beers cans totally. Yes, cans can be recycled but it takes lots of energy fuel to re-process it.

Oh dear! I have side-tracked from the purpose of this post, ie. to give some crafty suggestions for Gift baskets & decorations.

* Invest on the container instead : buy crystal bowls, ceramic trays, NYONYA BASKETS, picnic baskets to pack your CNY goodies! Add a red bow, a stalk of Cherry blossom / pussywillow and hang some angpow decorations...

* Make Themed Hampers :
--- Go healthy & fill a wooden rice bucket with small packets of brown rice, organic grains & vegetarian foodstuffs. You could include a few hand-written recipes on how to cook them! Include photos if you can to show them how yummy-looking healthy food can be! Giving rice buckets over-flowing with goodies would symbolise over-flowing of wealth & properity for the coming year, don't you think?

--- Go retro & look for the brown paper bag of yester-year! Fill it with traditional waxed duck, dried sausages, black & red kuaci. Look around for old-fashion 'Horse-racing day' calendars or single day calendars, preferably those with photos of Chinese filmstars! (like in the old days).

--- Go fruity & give oranges stacked & wrapped in the shape of a pineapple, hence you are giving "kum" (gold) & "ong lai" (wealth coming), respectively.


In a clear plastic bag, stack the 'pineapple' in 4 layers: Layer 1-3 has 5 oranges, the last layer has 4 oranges. Arrange the oranges on its side so that the tip of the orange mimics the 'eye' of the pineapple. Secure the top with a rubberband. Cut a long piece of double-layered green crepe paper (or green wrapping foil as in the photo), shaped like pointed leaves and wrap around the gathered top. Stick long strips of red/gold ribbon diagonally.

or, use a 2-tiered tray ->

--- Go fishy & arrange Yee Sang ingredients (still in their packages) on a 'Fish' platter, adding cans of abalone & packets of seaweed to complete the hamper. Please don't give 'Shark's fin in any form! (Why? - In the deep sea, sharks are caught; only its fin cut-off ALIVE and then it is thrown back into the sea to die a slow... painful... death !! True and gruesome. They do this because only the fins fetch a high price. The rest is only cheap fishmeat, not worth their effort). I'm sure you wouldn't want this on your conscience, especially on this auspicious CNY season..

*ALTERNATIVELY, if you are short of time but still want something meaningful & charitable, why not support Chitra, who became paralysed after an accident and is now quite nifty at making floral arrangements & CNY gift baskets. Contact her at Beautiful Gate Foundation's Klang branch 03-3343 4461. Read story from the The Star.

OR shop online for baskets from Malaysian Association of the Blind (MAB) hosted by Acma Mall website
Answer : Dried/preserved olives from China- wrapped in plastic sheet and dried leaves. It is secured with a gold string. Then the four strands are tied together with rubberband.

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