This week's Top Ten Tuesday is my attempt to help all of the folks who haven't yet planned their Purim baskets. Simply pick a category that you like, and make em!
10) The Clever Theme: This is the one that everyone feels a need to produce. It's a package filled with assorted food-items and small gifts, none of which would be considered usable on their own. The mini package of unnamed candy, while useless on its own, has immense value as a pink and purple striped package. This is, of course, only for the lady who's theme is pink and purple. The lady who's theme is dentists, would have no use for the unnamed candy, but lots of use for those revolting gummy teeth.
9) The Fancy Homemade: One of my neighbors always makes these. Their cakes may or may not be delicious, but they always look unbelievably gorgeous.
8) The Delicious Homemade: This differs from the previous category in that this shalach manos puts zero emphasis on the aesthetics, and all of it on the taste. This category includes shalach manos such as a cake, still in the disposable pan, placed in a clear food bag with a mini bottle of grape juice, and tied together with a simple knot. This may sound crazy, but these are always my favorite shalach manos. In fact, there's a neighbor of mine who makes the exact same double chocolate cake every year, sends it exactly as described above, and my family always makes sure to pay her a visit. ;-)
7) The Eclectic: this is the shalach manos that fits no other category. It doesn't have a theme, contains no homemade goods, and has no obvious thread to tie the contents together. This shalach manos doesn't have to be all bad. It doesn't contain random inedible foods like the themed shalach manos, so it has more usable potential. This shalach manos also has the greatest recycling potential, as anybody could make one just like it.
6) The Store-Bought: This is the easiest, and usually the most expensive category of shalach manos. This shalach manos can send a message of "I don't have time to make you something nice but I thought of you nonetheless" or "I can't be bothered making something special for you." This shalach manos also has great recycling capabilities, unless the sender commits the ultimate in selfishness: they affix a sticker with their name on it somewhere completely noticable and non-removable.
5) The Oops-I-Forgot: This isn't so much a type of shalach manos, as it is the delivery method. This shalach manos is hastily thrown together, while the children at the door wait. Often recycled, this shalach manos tells the receiver that they weren't on the giver's list that year.
4) The Gift: This is given by people who forget that shalach manos is supposed to be food. The giver's of The Gift often want to do something "grander" than "just" a shalach manos. They can be nice, or useless, depending on the sender. A subcategory of this would be shalach manos WITH a gift. For example, a fancy plate with food on it, or food items arranged on a wrapped box.
3) The Traditional: These people have not forgotten what shalach manos was supposed to be. They often send a bag with some hamentaschen and a pineapple. Although, in today's day and age of shalach manos wars, things like presidor wafers and mint thins in a green box are also pretty traditional.
2) The Funny: This is what I strive to send. It's usually a themed shalach manos, but the difference is that the theme is funny. Or the accompanying poem. Or graphic. Either way, this shalach manos is definately the most purimdik, as it increases simcha all around.
1) The Smile: This is what you get when you bring shalach manos to a princepal of a big school, or perhaps the rav of a huge shul. They don't attempt to make shalach manos for everyone that comes to them. Rather, they smile and thank you for the shalach manos you've given them. This does make sense, in my mind. After all, Purim is not Haloween, and it's not supposed to be about going to other's houses to GET gifts.
Which one do you give?