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Presents for Hungry Times : MAKE A BETTER BASKET

You could go to any gourmet emporium and buy an impressive ready-made basket for everybody on your shopping list. But those baskets, despite their good looks, are usually impersonal, overpriced and impractical (do you know anybody who actually eats canned smoked eel?).

You can create a better basket. All it takes is a little imagination and a bit of shopping savvy to create a special gift basket for everybody on your list. An Italian feast? A French fantasy? A coffee lover’s dream? It’s all easier than you think.

To show how simple it can be, we decided to create an elaborate picnic, fill the basket as full as we could with fabulous food, and keep the budget under $50--basket included. We shopped mostly in discount stores; as you can see, $48.61 made a very bountiful basket.

1.Two recycled glass goblets from Mexico. Pic ‘N’ Save: $1.59 each.

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2. Special Dark Holiday Ale, imported from France. Trader Joe’s: $1.99.

3. Mini Biscottes, imported from France. Trader Joe’s: 49 cents.

4. Italian Bread. Domingo’s Italian Grocery, Encino: 99 cents.

5. One pound Brie cheese. Trader Joe’s: $2.99.

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6. Forrelli Raspberry Preserves, imported from Yugoslavia. 99 Only Stores: 99 cents.

7. Poggio al’ Sole unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, 8.4 ounces, imported from Italy. Cost Plus Imports: regular price $16.67, marked down to $7.99.

8. Elaina’s Chia Chips, made from organic corn. Pic ‘N’ Save: 79 cents.

9. Tobler Swiss Milk Chocolate bar, 3 ounces. Pic ‘N’ Save: 59 cents.

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10. Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and herbs: Trader Joe’s; $2.99.

11. La Vosgienne’s Bonbons Framboises. Cost Plus Imports: 99 cents.

12. Pate de campagne, 7 ounces, imported from France. Cost Plus Imports: $5.75.

13. Princedor’s Chocolat au lait superieur; 3 1/2 ounces, imported from France. Pic ‘N’ Save: 59 cents.

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14. Demitasse Teabiscuits, imported from Holland. Pic ‘N’ Save: 49 cents.

15. 2 napkins. Pic ‘N’ Save: 59 cents each.

16. Placemat. Pic ‘N’ Save: 99 cents.

17. Tangerine. Vons: 25 cents.

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18. Mixed nuts. Vons: 30 cents.

19. Santa tin; made in China. Pic ‘N’ Save: 25 cents.

20. Red bow and pine cone corsage. Michael’s: 99 cents each.

21. Cinnamon sticks. Michaels: 3 for 99 cents.

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22. Knife/corkscrew. 99 Only Stores: 99 cents.

23. Wicker basket. Trader Joe’s: $5.99.

24. Hudson Caramel Rounds, imported from New Zealand. Pic ‘N’ Save: 70 cents.

25. Napkin ring. Cost Plus Imports: $1.69.

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26. Green excelsior. Michael’s: $2.49.


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