This mix isn't food, but a very useful mix for parents to have in their cupboards.
They are always selling new play dough 'sets' for $20+ that basically include a couple of cans of dough and a few plastic doohickeys to shape it into various things. But I find that stuff such a waste of money- play dough is always getting left out to harden and mixed together to form disgusting new colors. The plastic doohickeys get old and broken fast.
I've been making my own play dough for a while now, and buying my daughter various plastic cookie cutters at the dollar store to mix things up. She also likes making layer cakes using different sized cups to cut the pieces and decorating them with unlit birthday candles.
Homemade play dough is awesome- it's softer, it smells better and it's REALLY cheap to make. The problem is that most recipes make a BOATLOAD. But, play dough is better in smaller amounts because it's a lot less wasteful when it gets left out over night and turns into a giant rock. I figured if I could keep cake mix in the cupboard to whip up at a moment's notice I could do the same with play dough!
Play dough mix (big batch- makes 4x2 containers)
4 cups flour
2 cups salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
I store it in a flour container and it half fills it. So a double batch would fill it right up, although that's a LOT of play dough!
What else you'll need
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
Combine 1 1/2 cups of mix with water and oil in a small saucepan and stir well. 'Cook' on medium heat, stirring vigorously with a spatula until it starts to thicken.
Let it cool and then knead into a ball.
Divide into 2 small containers and add 8 drops of food coloring of your choice to each, then knead until the color is uniform.
An inexpensive gift under $5 would be to make the 6 colors of the rainbow in little dollar store containers and add on a package of plastic cookie cutters. (Plastic rolling pins and pizza cutters also make nice additions).