With Christmas right around the corner, how will you surprise the sports fan on your list? We have a few ideas for extra special memorable gifts you can put together yourself-- or have someone help you put together.

Gifting a Treasured Recipe- Sports Fans Love to Eat

By Suzanne Corbett, STLSportsPage.com Travel/Food Editor

The scramble is on to find that prefect last minute gift. For me such gifts are found in my kitchen. The gift from your kitchen I recommend isn’t anything cooked or baked but one mostly overlooked. 

Give a gift of family recipes. Cherished family recipes that only Grandma or Mother knew how to make. Recipes that define your family’s roots, especially those at risk of becoming forgotten or lost.

“My mom and aunts along with their friends got together and collected family recipes and made a cookbook for everyone. They used it as a fundraiser for a group they all belong to. Copies where passed out as Christmas gifts,” said Chad Grimm whose family is the keeper of vintage recipes dating back to the early 1800’s.  It’s a great resource and it has some of my favorite recipes - except my grandma’s homemade noodles. I have to get that recipe before it’s too late.”

As a food historian I present foodways programs featuring the recipes and vintage cooking techniques. Yet, I too have lost family recipes simply because I didn’t take the time to stop and write them down. Lost forever is my grandmother’s Tamale Pie recipe and my dad’s recipe for Roman Apple Cake.

To prevent the lost of such family culinary treasures act now. Write them down and preserve them for future generations. To begin, simply ask for a recipe. And don’t forget to write down those family tips or history associated with it. There are recipes you take for granted-- like your grandmother's favorite potato salad, or that special spiked punch that you always take to the tail-gate parties. These are recipes you will want to save for years to come.

Since families gather for the holidays it’s the perfect time to solicit those cherish old recipes. Ask family members to write down their favorite recipe and bring it to you’re your holiday event. Better yet - before this year’s holiday get together send out an email request. Even older family members often times have access to email accounts and can respond back fast. Hopefully in the nick of time to get grandma’s secret cookie recipe made in time for Santa.

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One Way to Make a Family Recipe Book

An easy way to to pass the family recipes down is to collect them and either re-type them or if on recipe cards you could even preserve more of history by copying the card and then you will have the handwriting from the loved-one who wrote the recipe down. 

Buy a binder and some plastic insert pages. As you type up the recipes, it's fun to include interesting facts about people.

For example, if there were fun memories or interesting happenings with grandparents or great aunts, it helps make the book more special by having memories of the person in it.

Another fun thing to do is have a page that explains who everyone is and how they are related to the family. A young married couple can make a great gift for their family by combining the recipes from both sides of the family. It will end up being a great gift for the person who makes it as they will have all the family recipes in one book for years to come.

Sports Fan's Quilt

Have you saved your children's special tee shirts because you just can't part with them? Make a quilt out of them.

This is a great Christmas present and also a good high school graduation gift.

Take the shirt and make squares out of the area where the logos are. In order to get all of the squares the same size, take material and make squares and then sew the tee shirt squares to those squares. The more experienced at sewing can make the squares various sizes, as shown in the example, right.

As far as the colors you use, you might want to use the person's school colors or colors that would complement the room you think they will use it in. If you make one side a solid color, the quilt can be used on either side giving even more use to it. 

Baseball Vase

This gift is literally a ball vase. What a creative idea from one of our readers, Joan Spink, who took an old ball jar (you can buy them or maybe you have one in the garage or basement). She painted the jar white. She painted the jar, inside and out and then drew the red stitching on. Be sure you do the stitching on the side that says "Ball". She tied the bow at the top and glued it so it would stay in place.

If giving a baseball vase for a Christmas gift you can either put in fresh flowers or make it permanent with red and white flowers. If you use silk flowers, avoid the Christmas ones like the poinsettia's shown left. If you use carnations and other summer flowers, it can be displayed year round, including during baseball season.

Frame Special Memories

We don't know at this writing, but Thursday's Rams game might have been the last home game ever for the Rams. If that is the case, a fun gift would be a collage of pictures and memories of Rams games. Even if it is not known if it's the last game, you can make that game a lasting memory (if you went) by preserving items and photos from the night.

A gift like this can be made with any special game, concert, or big event.

Framed tickets, pictures and programs are a fun gift for a sports fan. The photo, left is a collage from the last game at Busch Stadium. Perhaps the person you want to make a gift for went to that game. You can find pictures, possibly their tickets, and any other memories that would remind them of the good times from the old Busch Stadium.

It's also possible to go online and look for memories, such as old programs or pictures from the Arena or Checkerdome. Anything that brings back fond memories is great. The size can range from poster size as shown, to just one ticket that would be  a small desktop sized frame. If you have autographs you can add this to the mix.


Surprise them With a Trip to Spring Training!

Anyone would love to get a card that says "We're going to Spring Training!" as a gift. You can put together your own Spring Training trip and it will cost you less than a packaged trip. We have a partnership with the Homewood Suites in Palm Beach Gardens to get you a special discount-- and with it comes memories for a lifetime.

The Cardinals have announced their 2016 Spring Training schedule. This announcement coincided with STLSportsPage.com's announcement of the annual Spring Training charity party to benefit Rainbows for Kids and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Palm Beach which will be March 9th. 

The party is held at Homewood Suites Palm Beach Gardens, and is co-sponsored by the hotel, Roger Dean Stadium, and Duffy's Sports Bar and Grill. A Cardinals player has appeared at the event for the last four years.

Fans wishing to make reservations at the Palm Beach Gardens Hotel, which offers hot breakfast and dinner Mon.-Thurs. can contact the hotel, ask for Christy Netzel and tell her you want the "STLSportsPage" discount.  Benefits of staying at the Homewood Suites is free shuttle to the Cardinals Spring Training games, a swimming pool, putting green and the meals. If you do choose the dates around our Spring Training Party, the party is  being held on a Wednesday, so fans can take advantage of the free dinners Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. There will be free food and drinks at the party.. 

Homewood Suites Palm Beach Gardens:  4700 Donald Ross Rd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

Click the link to make reservations: https://secure3.hilton.com/en_US/hw/reservation/book.htm?ctyhocn=PBIHWHW&corporateCode=0003072651

Call (561) 622-7799 and ask for Christie Netzel.

If you have any creative ideas you would like to share of gifts you have given to the sports fans in your life feel free to make comments and tell us about them.