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Growing up, gift hampers were in abundance each Christmas at our house, as businesses that my parents worked with sent them to say "thanks" for another great year. Mum would dutifully bring the hamper home, unpack the contents with all of us oohing and ahhing suitably, pack it away into the pantry, only for it to never be seen again until the vital pre-Christmas pantry chuck out the following year. More often than not, those food items we adored last year were just waste for the bin, and she was kicking herself again for not actually using them.
1 - unpack everything as it arrives.There's nothing worse than reaching into the cupboard in March and discovering a hamper that's been sitting on the shelf since last November, and finding that half the food is already out of date. Take the time as soon as possible to open the whole hamper.
2 - put it away in the right spot.Now, I don't think everyone has their pantries set up like I do, but I'm lucky enough to have two separate cupboards, one I use for savoury stuff, and one for sweet. The savoury cupboard is broken down into sauces, herbs and condiments on one shelf; another for pastas and rices; cereals, and right up the top I have sundry items. If I put cocoa powder into the wrong cupboard, chances are I'll never see it again. Make sure you have a home for all your items, and put them away in their home.
3 - plan to use them.If you know you've got something coming up where the products will be useful, like drinks with the neighbours, make a mental note, or an actual diary note to use them. What better way to get use out of your hamper than using it!
4 - think outside the box.When we go camping, we like to add a bit of something extra we wouldn't normally do at home. For us, that usually means crackers and dips and cheeses, and shared nibbles platters. The kids go mad for it, and Steve and I get to put our feet up while they help themselves. What is something you do that could be elevated with a hamper?
5 - open something straight away.There's no better feeling than saying to the kids "yes, let's open this right now." They're all a bit hyped up from the excitement of unpacking, so why not add to that by actually eating the food from the hamper, and then they'll think you're the best mum ever (until next time you want them to clean their rooms.)
Follow these tips, and next year you'll be wondering why you have to clean the pantry out when there's nothing in it!
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