Riva Ben Ezra:
I have done many creative mishloah manot. One year I made flower pots filled with chocolate cupcake and put chocolate roses, gummy worms and a package of seeds in it. I also took a small glass fish bowl, filled it with blue "jello" and stuck gummy fish in the jello, made a sugar cookie sailboat to put on top, and a bottle of sprinkles on for "fish food."

This year I am doing and environmentally friendly one in green glass vases (got on sale)-"If an optimist looks at the world through rose colored glasses, does the environmentalist look at the world through green colored glass?" I am including organic chocolate, fruit, and maybe something else and covering it
with burlap and printing the poem on recycled paper. I did a 3-year old boy theme and a new baby theme. I also did a Turkish Delight one- small wooden boxes, fabric that looks like Turkish carpet, added tea-stained fringes, made miniature Turkish desserts to put inside with doily underneath.

Irene Blechner:
This year I am doing a kings and queens theme. I made cookies that look like a deck of cards, chocolate molds that resemble cards an poem about Queen Esther, and I put a crown on a bottle of grape juice and then put it all together with purple (royal) paper.

Fredi Engels:
Since my children have grown up, I find my mishloach manot get smaller and more expensive. Also, everyone seems to be dieting, including me, and asks politely to be "off the list" they don't call me Fredibooks for nothing! The least fattening mishloach manot is a cookbook. I always send two something little and collect cheap cookbooks during the year that would make suitable gifts.

Other non-food things that I have sent are wrapping up the whole package in a dish towel or something else small like a gadget from the discount store or tray. When my children were little, I also collected cheap children's books to include. One year I actually found a book called mishloach manot and bought up the lot! Mishloach Manot I DO NOT LIKE GETTING!! I don't like food that has been "touched" like a few pieces of popcorn or bamba or bisli. Rather put in the whole package! Its so unsanitary and crumbles all over everything! Another thing I learnt in Israel--I don't know if it is a "custom" or just very convenient. We send each other our chametz and start emptying the pantry for Pesach, packages of soup that have been sitting too long, cans of humous and other food our family is not likely to consume for one reason or another.

Simone Greenbaum:
Why not pick up a 4-quart plastic bowl( Lucite or clear with a flower pattern) at an Odd Job, or Odd Lot or Amazing savings or any discount store for about $1 or $2, add a bag of the Dole lettuce salads, a bottle of fat free and sugar free salad dressing (I think Walden Farms makes one) , wrap that up in a large sheet of plastic, add a big bow and voila!.

Adalia Lombardo:
I would love to share what I am doing this year and the past. First I will start with I love Purim. I guess, I love the giving, the fun, the fun the kids have, the history and triumph. And our last big carb feast before Pesach. Plus it is a relaxed holiday, and I enjoy it 100%.

I do a bit lavish for friends and family, and different if they have
children too.

I ran into Brooklyn yesterday for some stuff at a .99 cent store on 13th Ave. This year I bought Purim bags, for about .89 each from amazing savings. I will put my homemade Hamantaschen in them. Normally a bottle of grape juice (they go on sale for .99) for the quart size ones. Then it depends what I find, and the price. I do the normal 2 ready to eat foods of different nature, example an apple and an orange. I am also including witzosky tea (for the adult ones), tea cookies, waffers, and a small
candy box, of either mints or caramels. The kids, I through in a bunch of junk that mine would not (and most of there friends) get during the year. These candy building blocks, lollipops, marshmallows, smiley cookies, candy necklace, Mike & Ikes.

A lot of the stores in Brooklyn now have these things for 5 and 7 for $1.00, larger items, 50-1.00 each.

At times I through in left over previous b-day party goody bag stuff for the kids. Gets it out of my house.

Decorate with tissue paper, festive colors, that I have picked up on sale. I have used that pink and purple grass that I get after Easter for 10 cents a bag.

Last year I included a photocopied story of Purim.

Normally nuts and or seeds (these I baggie from a larger assortment and list the kashruth on the outside of a baggie for the person). Nuts/seeds for whatbEsther ate, since there was no kosher meat.

I have put in poems, on fancy paper that I make and print myself. Did one two years ago, with a star theme, and included "may the Jewish people be as numerous as the stars in the sky."

I tend not to keep it simple since, I personally find this a stress
reliever. I have had homemade baskets made out of paper plates given to me, that mean the world to me as any gift does. I tend to get creative with things I do.

You should see my kids parties, always a theme. Mainly I always do the basics 2 edible items, that can be eaten right on the
spot and are not the same item. Hamantaschen, and nuts/seeds. I do try to through in grape juice too for the merriness. Would like to do wine (but not knowing drinking statuses and expense too), to keep in the spirit of the
drinking festivities. Obviously not appropriate for children. So I throw in grape juice.

Ira Rosen:
Typically, we hit Odd Job for $.88 plastic baskets or boxes (made in Israel). This year we were going to go to a Pier 1 outlet for $1 baskets, but fate intervened, and we're going completely overboard.

Along with my wife's interest in making sushi came a Japanese au pair, so this year's theme is completely Japanese. We will be
packaging the sushi with gyozha (Japanese wontons/kreplach/ravioli/pierogies - I believe that this food has a counterpart in all cultures) and steamed buns (lotus or bean). The buns and gyozha skins are available at the local Asian market (made by Marquis Foods - Star K certified). We will add to this a packet of oolong or green tea as well as a Japanese beer (Kirin or Asahi, probably).

Packaging will be done in bento boxes (Japanese stacked lunch boxes) - sushi in one compartment, gyozha and buns in another (which can be separated and microwaved as these both should be served warm), and the tea and soy sauce (packeged in little shoyu bottles) in the top compartment. The beer and chopsticks will be attached to the outside.

The boxes were purchased at a 100 yen store in Tokyo by our au pair's friend (who let us choose the style by emailing digital pictures of the selections - I love the Internet) - 100 yen is just under $1 US. She also "gifted" us with the shoyu bottles, chopsticks and decorations. These were all shipped by our au pair's mom.

She "gifted" us with the shipping. Had we paid for the whole thing, it probably would have cost <$2 US per unit.

We'll have to do a bit more cooking/assembly than usual, but it will be well worth it.

Adina Rosenstein:
Well, normally I try to do something healthy. Last year, I used that Tones ranch dressing mix that someone from the list was nice enough to supply me with. made a small 200 gram container with it, as a dip, and put it into a larger container from the 2 shekel store with crackers, and celery and
carrot sticks. the parents hoarded it for themselves.
This year, i hurt my shoulder, so i cannot repeat all that cutting and slicing, and was going to buy tzedakah cards. then my daughter offered to sift the flour if we would make small chocolate cakes with a magadim elite bar of chocolate.
Again, normally, i go for healthy, but this year if my daughter is willing to sift the flour and then it is only a chocolate bar, then why not? 2 brachot and a desert cake and i am done.

In the past, i have done little challot and a bottle of wine if it was a Thursday. Or an orange mishloach manot-can of orange soda and a package of orange glazed cookies, wrapped in orange see through paper.

i know someone who is dressing their kids as an orange and an apples. Wrapping their mishloach manot in brown paper, putting a tree on top of it of some kind and drying sliced oranges to hang from the trees.

Others give little homemade chummos with crackers and veggie sticks and fruits.

Amelia Schmidt:
If you are looking for easy but cute shalos manos gifts, when I was single I used to pack lunches and/or breakfast in paper bags and people loved them. Breakfast would be a small box of cereal, a small container of milk, a piece of fruit and a small bottle of juice. I'd put it all in a paper bag with a bowl and spoon and decorate the bag with stickers. For lunches I'd include a small can of tuna, a small bag of baby carrots, a bagel, a piece of fruit, and a beverage (sometimes it was juice, sometimes a can of soda). Again, I'd put it all in a bag and decorate the bag. It was always easy but fun (when I got married and moved, a friend called me and told me they missed my "meal").

This year, though, we are also looking for something easy, since I'm due the week of Purim. I've already baked mini-derby pies (I'll post the recipe separate from this e-mail), we bought wire baskets at a $1 store that can make nice challah baskets, and we are filling them with the pies, fruit, and candy. I'll line the baskets with cloth and then cover them with saran or
something like that.