12 DIYs of Christmas #1: Asian Gourmet

It gets harder and harder each year to think of something both clever and practical to gift to a loved one. As a girl who loves to make a big impression, I tend to default to themed collage-style gifts. Collage-style can really mean anything from a gift basket to a few semi-random things with a common theme... and I think we all know I'm a sucker for a good theme.

This year, I feel like I've already hit all of my lifetime Christmas targets (really, c'mon now, there's only so many years in a row a girl can make her mama cry tears of Christmas joy). I'm starting to run out of ideas for the usual gift-list recipients simply because "it's all been done". It's my own fault, really. I should have reserved some of my cleverness for years to come. I've decided that I am going to do at least 12 homemade or DIY things each year from now on, just to keep me on my toes. Otherwise, I've hit the gift-giving-wall and I'll be resorting to gift cards and pre-made everything.....

Thus my new dilemma: I was starting to look at the pre-made baskets a little more closely--almost closely enough to consider buying them. That was, of course, until I saw a gift-set with an Asian cuisine theme that made me want to "wok" right outta there.... (boo! a wok pun)... For upwards of $60, this store I won't bother to name was selling a non-traditional, itsy bitsy non-stick wok with not-so-delicious sauces and ingredients inside to make your own Asian meal (I didn't stick around long enough to see what kind of Asian....). I was appalled! Not just because I'm Asian-Canadian, but because I'm thrifty... and that was a ridiculous price.

This past weekend, I was shopping at the local Real Canadian Wholesale Club when I realized the Wholesale club has everything I needed to create my own super-awesome Asian gift-set on the cheap. And my heart told me I should share this with you all, in case you're as offended as I am by the gift-set costing more than a basic Chinese food dinner for four... And so the first DIY of the season was born:

12 DIY's of Christmas 
DIY#1 - Asian Gourmet Gift-set

Step 1: 
Buy a wok and its accessories. The Wholesale Club in Thunder Bay has a variety of sizes and are more authentic looking than the typical wok in a department store. At the very least, you need the wok itself and the stand. The woks run from about $10 to $30 depending on the size you want. This little guy and the base cost only $12.

Step 2:
Choose your Asian theme! Fill the wok to your hearts content with traditional, stereotypical, or useful Asian things. Check the Asian or imported sections of your local grocery stores (for Thunder Bay, I'd recommend Superstore). I grabbed a few no-brainers from the Wholesale Club to make it a one-stop adventure--I would have had more choice elsewhere (hence the branding). What's great is that imported foods are inexpensive as well as being more authentic. 

The possibilities for this are endless! Pair a cookbook with some key ingredients and utensils, or just load'r up with sauces and non-perishable food items. Chopsticks, green tea, or traditional dishes are great ideas for add-ins, too! Wrap it all up in basic cellophane and you've got one heck of a classy gift-set.This gift-set would make a great gift for almost anyone, or even a hostess gift for the million and one holiday parties that are just around the corner. 

Both versions of my gift-set were under $30, and I didn't have to cheap out on the groceries like I normally would. An authentic Chinese (or Asian-not-otherwise-specified) gift-set could easily be accomplished for under $25. How awesome is that? 

Have you gotten creative inspiration in any unexpected stores? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

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