This week Glenn Beck issued the challenge for all families to prepare by storing food. This, of course, is not new to us but for many of us we have been procrastinating, or we have family who has been. With this call from someone in the national spotlight and with the beginning of a grassroots movement, I am beginning food storage 101 classes at Totally Ready.

The first lesson was this past Monday so, if you, or someone you know, is still in need of help please visit the blog now, and get on board at the beginning. Also, I have set up a Facebook page so please go to facebook and sign up at Totally Ready so you can receive timely updates, special announcements and special deals!

Toasters, ties, and toys. The season for giving not only tests our imagination and budget, but can also stretch our inspiration. Well, just in case your friends and kin could benefit from a little more Emergency Preparedness, here are some ideas on how to remember them with creative gift ideas that are fun, practical and inexpensive, some even free!

Gift Idea #1: The Theme Gift.

Light: “You light up my life” or quote John 12:35: “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” Include glow sticks, flashlights, maybe a flashlight and radio combo, candles in glass jars for power outages, or solar lights that can be charged during the day and brought in at night during a power outage.

Eat, drink, and be merry: Give MRE meals, water, energy bars, and a travel game.

Commuter survival: Orange safety vest, large safety glow sticks, work gloves, food and water.

Food storage starter kit: A case or cans of food from each of the food groups Or a starter kit from the storehouse.

The weather outside is frightful: Space blankets, rain poncho, hand-warmers, glow sticks, flashlight, battery-powered radio, hot cocoa and hot cider mix.

Garden Kit: Purchase a garden bucket, add some packets of seeds, a trowel, a planting guide and a gift certificate good for your help in next Spring’s garden. Add the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett for family reading.

Gift Idea #2: Gift Certificates – free or almost free

Canning Kit: ( almost free). Give a case of new canning jars, either new or used with new lids – include a few of your favorite canning recipes and a gift certificate for a lug of fruit from your local orchard or your own tree next summer, or a day of canning help. If you have your own fruit trees, this gift is free except for the lids.

Canning Season Order Form: (free if you ask for return of the jars!). Create a gift certificate that is an order form for next canning season. Label the top of the certificate “Redeemable from Summer 2011 Crop”. Directions: “Choose one from each section” Then create sections for items you normally can. For example, “Fruit” – choose from pears, applesauce or peaches. You could include a jam and jelly section, vegetable section, and a “Just for Fun” section which could include such things as pickles and spaghetti sauce. Then next summer deliver their selections all canned and ready for the shelves of their General Store.

Disaster Preparedness Kit: (free). Send for, or download, information concerning natural disasters known to occur in your area. This information should also include counsel on what to do to be prepared for such emergencies. Wrap it in a gift bag and add a gift certificate from a provider of 72-hour kits and preparedness items or collect items from around your home such as a backpack, whistle, flashlight, and roll of TP to begin their kit. You will not only have “warned your neighbor”, but will have provided them with a way to act on the knowledge they have gained.

Family Home Evening: (free, except for dessert). Give a gift certificate and an invitation to join your family on specific dates for FHE. When your guests arrive, teach them preparedness skills. Make dinner and dessert in a Dutch oven or foil dinner, teach them about evacuation and give them information to study (see the September 2009 issue of the Totally Ready Newsletter), and then surprise them a few weeks later by calling them and telling them it’s time for an evacuation drill and give them 20 minutes to get to your home with everything they will need to live for the next three weeks. Serve them dessert and evaluate how they did.

Inventory: (free). Give a gift certificate for six hours of service to inventory and organize their food storage.

Be their photographer: (free). Create a gift certificate for six hours of photography, take your digital camera and shoot pictures for a home inventory. When you are done, download the photos to their computer and advise them to put them on disc and mail them to their out of area contact.

Gift Idea #3: The Survival Kit.

Great for anyone, but especially college students and newlyweds.

  1. Cookies and dinners in a jar. You’ve seen these and they are great for students with little time to fix meals. Layer cookie ingredients or the ingredients for soup in a quart canning jar. Attach the direction for preparing the foods.  Pack 6 jars of cookie mixes and 6 jars of a variety of soup mixes in a canning jar box. Check out the books: Dinner is in the Jar
  2. Dinner basket. Purchase a large laundry basket and fill it with a copy of your favorite, or your student’s favorite recipe. Purchase all the ingredients to make that recipe 5 times. Taco soup would be a great example since most of the ingredients are canned. Check out the book 100 Day Pantry.
  3. Private cache. Purchase a case of a favorite food. This is also great for young children. It helps them realize just how much is really needed for a years supply and teaches them your commitment to having a year’s supply of food. Brownies or Mac & Cheese are perfect here.
  4. Auto survival. Every student who drives a long distance to school should have an emergency car kit. Sadly, college students have frozen returning from Christmas holidays, when cars break down in severe cold temperatures. So in addition to coats and blankets carried separately during winter, kits should include glow sticks for light if you need to remain in the car for an extended period, water packets, food bars, mylar blanket for warmth in winter or to cool a car during the summer, flashlight, poncho (preferably yellow for better visibility when walking), first aid kit, whistle, and towelettes for after changing a tire or putting on snow chains. This should be in a backpack or fanny pack, to keep hands free. This is important as in an emergency you want hands free for balance, especially in the snow or when dealing with debris. 
  5. Healthy semester kit. Remember college diets and late semester colds and flu? Prepare a healthy semester kit by including vitamins, cold remedies or preventatives, tissues, robe, slippers, and chicken soup.

Gift Idea #4: Miscellaneous Maps

Purchase local maps and regional maps. Mark several routes to exit the area in case of an emergency.

Gift Idea #5: Family Shirt

Or whatever… something that identifies you as part of a family unit is an important way to improve your chances for being reunited quickly in a Katrina-scale disaster. Purchase a solid color t-shirt for each member of the family. Shirt sizes for children should be at least one size larger than they are now wearing. Include a set of fabric crayons and instructions to create a family shirt. These shirts will then be placed in their 72-hour kits and worn when the family needs to evacuate. Each shirt should have the same picture on them, but not a name. Have each member contribute something to the picture, iron it on to a shirt and then recolor and reuse for each additional shirt. Shirts should be a bright color to make them easier to spot in a crowd and more memorable. I remember the frustration during Katrina when family members were looking for their children. Everyone had seen a pretty little girl with curly hair, but there were hundreds of pretty little girls with curly hair. If your family is all wearing the same distinctive shirt it is much more likely that someone will remember seeing your child. Even better, you might get a member of the media to say “This child is wearing a shirt just like this one”. You can also use the same tactic with bandannas and baseball caps. Just remember to make them all the same and distinctive from those you can purchase.

Gift Idea #6: Spiritual Preparedness

Oil for your lamp. Don’t forget spiritual preparedness. Give a set of scriptures or a small inspirational book to be kept in a 72-hour kit or in the car for times when you are stuck waiting for a road closure or children. The small-print style scriptures are a compact possibility.

Scripture-a-day. Compile favorite scriptures from family members and create a scripture for each day of the year or just a month. When my sons were on foreign speaking missions I got copies of the scriptures in those languages and made them a scripture a day flip book in their mission language. 

Order a subscription to the Liahona magazine for a family member or friend who served a foreign language mission. Some language editions are published each month and some only once a year, but all are wonderful to receive. Of course, The Ensign, New Era, Friend, and Church News are excellent gifts for family who are not taking advantage of these resources.

Gift Idea #7: Financial Preparedness.

Savings bonds are a great gift for anyone and especially for young children. They are tax exempt when used for post high school education.

Cash for a rainy day. What will we do for cash if the power and internet are down at your local  ATM? It takes discipline, but some well-hidden cash is an important part of preparedness planning. And of course, for college students, rolls of quarters are always appreciated. Likewise for students, a gift certificate to a local grocery store.

Savings accounts. Why not set up a savings account for a grandchild? They will love going with you to the bank and it will make them feel very grown up and responsible. Help them understand that the money is for college or a mission. You can add to the account as they grow. We have a piggy bank at our home and when our grandchildren visit and help with chores, we place money in the banks. You could use their savings account in the same way.

So, these are a few ideas for the gift of preparedness. With a measure of imagination and inspiration, anyone can make preparedness fun and personal. And in an emergency scenario, being prepared is so much more fun than the alternative!

Visit Carolyn’s blog at :https://blog.TotallyReady, While there join the Yahoo group. Listen to her live Internet radio show at: every Tuesday night at 9:00pm ET-6:pm PT, or check out past broadcasts at: Don’t forget the NEW Facebook page, Totally Ready.