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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Personalize friends' Easter baskets

By Kaui Philpotts

Many Easter baskets can be given a personal touch by adding a favorite item of the receiver or customizing the basket around a theme.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

If you've been anywhere near a supermarket or shopping mall lately, you couldn't have missed the fact that Easter is coming. Chocolate creme eggs; pastel, plastic ones with baskets to match; mountains of cellophane grass and stuffed bunnies spill from bins and shop windows.

As with Christmas and Valentine's Day, we can choose to ignore the commercial atmosphere of the holiday or we can celebrate it by selecting the ideas we like and making them our own. I like to make these occasions a time to express thanks and affection to family and friends, the feelings I never seem to get around to on a regular basis.

æThe Easter season is an excellent time to throw a Sunday brunch for six to eight co-workers, or to make Easter baskets to give to a friend who has been down in the dumps, the neighbor who keeps an eye on your house when you're out of town or a lonely elder whom you know.

æEaster, that ancient tradition of celebrating renewal and rebirth, is of course, for children most of all. Assemble your own baskets for kids filled with items personally selected for them and their interests. Is the child learning to surf? Add a surf shirt or board shorts rolled up and tied with raffia. A new CD (check on their preferences), or nail polish and lip gloss for teenage girls would be appreciated.

The choice of candies

To these personalized items, add sweets and snacks you know they like. Let's admit it: Some of that Easter candy is pretty awful and never gets eaten. Instead, visit a bulk candy stores and pack up your own jellybeans, candy-covered almonds and chocolate bunnies in clear plastic packages. Tie them with pretty ribbons or colored raffia. Peanut M&M come in holiday pastels, too.

If the baskets are for adults, check out the better shops such as Godiva, See's or Neiman Marcus. Fewer confections, well selected, will be appreciated and actually consumed.

The baskets

Any container can become an Easter basket. Look in second-hand stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Even a basket, flower pot, bowl or other container that's rather tired looking can be refreshed with some spray paint in pastel colors.

Be on the hunt for baskets with or without handles in stores such as Ben Franklin, Pier 1 Imports and Ross Stores. Look in your own closets. Lauhala baskets and wire kitchen baskets can be made right for spring by your selection of colors for the ingredients.

Look for stuffings other than the predictable green cellophane. There are fillers of shredded brown paper, straw and even Spanish moss. Another choice is to wad up colored tissue paper. Become a saver and hoarder of pretty ribbons and ties. Pick up paper and fabric flowers and decorations as you find them in garage sales, on other things you buy, and on sale in stores such as Longs. If you know someone with a shredder (or pick up one of the new, inexpensive home office models), you can make your own confetti out of old gift wrap and other found paper.

æThere are some interesting baskets on the market, such as the ones that look like bright, colored berry crates, wooden pastel "picket fence" squares and small galvanized tubs. Most cost under $5. Those bamboo steamers make great baskets for cooks. Fill them with herbs and seasonings from Chinatown or Marukai.

If you're giving that Easter brunch, look for smallish baskets or other containers that can be outfitted with goodies and then placed as small gifts on each plate.

Some unusual ingredients

It's easy devising baskets for little children: candies, bunnies or chickies and colored eggs will delight them. But you have to get get a bit more creative for teens and grown-ups. Here are some ideas:

The surfer basket: To the Easter candies, add a rolled up copy of a surfing magazine or book about surfing, some board wax, surf stickers, sunglasses and a tube of Bullfrog. Maybe some rubber slippers. Cruise the surf shops and be guided by your budget.

The bachelor's basket: The natural thing to do is add movie tickets for two, a free car wash and a gift certificate for groceries. But what about all the makings for Spam musubi? It's fast, easy and perfect for someone always on the run. Assuming the bachelor has rice and a rice cooker (hard to fit into a basket), fill the basket with written directions for making musubi, a can of reduced-fat Spam, ready-to-use teriyaki sauce, sushi vinegar, furukake, nori sheets for wrapping and a musubi mold (available at Longs Drug and Shirokiya).

Spa for a friend basket: Let your girlfriend from work or a new mother relax by filling her basket with a scented aromatherapy candle, bubble bath or egg-shaped soap, a Japanese scrub towel (great for exfoliating; they come in pink and yellow), aromatherapy scented skin lotion for after, a small brush for her feet and a natural sponge. Line a shallow basket with a pretty towel (lavender if you're using lavender scents, green if you go with green tea or grassy smells).

The gardeners basket: To the Easter candies, add new gardening gloves, a gardening book on Island plants, a new trowel, rubber clogs and seed packets. Stick in an herb plant or two from the garden shop.