The year 2007 brought many interesting experiences that spawned new, make-do, self-reliant ideas. I guess that's the whole idea about being prepared. Preparedness truly is perpetual in nature. Like us, our preparedness efforts are a continual work in progress.

Along with accumulating a few basic emergency essentials, spend some time educating yourself on how to use what you've stored. Learn from the experiences of others. What did or didn't work for them may or may not work for you.

Work toward developing the knack of thinking outside of the box. To meet your needs when the unexpected and/or unanticipated happens, what can you use instead?

A silly, simple, case in point: Last August (while jeeping in Moab with friends) we decided to take a whitewater raft trip down the Colorado. The good news — it was the perfect adventure. The bad news — prior to our departure, my nose began to run. With a raging river and soaking wet clothes, how was I going keep my tissues dry?

Having learned from a previous float trip that the Colorado River stains clothing, I laid out an outfit to wear, then accidentally left it at home. In lieu of that outfit, I was able to buy one imperative piece of equipment: a below-the-knee pair of men's bomber pants with Velcro pockets. Great invention, bad fashion statement.

Before we left the motel, the idea came to me to take several of the plastic bags that covered our daily supply of drinking cups. I used one to store my dry tissues, twisted it tight, folded it over and put it into a second bag for extra protection. I used a third bag for used Kleenex.

Although we are in the digital camera era, I have kept several 35mm film canisters. Those little, lightweight containers help to keep things clean and organized in my purse. I'm currently using six of them to house my Good Samaritan/wound and disease prevention exam gloves, to keep a surgical mask and to hold assorted prescriptions and over-the-counter remedies.

I use a lot of antibacterial hand wipes. The wipes that come out of my car antibacterial canister are so moist, they can be reused a couple of times. I put them in one of my film containers to keep them from drying out.

I put two film canisters in my Velcro "river pants" to keep my prescriptions and nasal remedies dry. My preparations worked! By days' end, I still had dry medications and tissues.

If interested, go to a photo developing place. I'm sure they'd be happy to give you their throw away/recyclables to use in your 72-hour backpack, purse/briefcase and car kits. Label each canister's contents.

While jeeping over many of Utah's back-county trails, I have found it imperative to take with me a mini sanitation kit. It consists of a plastic shopping bag, a roll of toilet paper, a large canister of antibacterial hand wipes and a second plastic bag for paper waste.

At this gift-giving time of the year, or for birthdays and anniversaries, don't forget the small items that complement 72-hour, car and sanitation kits. My parents laughed the year we gave them a case of toilet paper.

If you haven't stored a lot of water, don't waste what you do have doing dishes.

Give a stack of "emergency preparedness" paper plates, cups and disposable utensils, as well as cases of water on sale. Give canisters and foil-wrapped antibacterial wipes.

The gifts you give and the preparations you make may sustain a life; 'tis better than a new Grinch tie or pink bunny slippers!

Jolene Parker, the "Food Storage Lady," is the author of "A Practical, Affordable, Do-able Approach to Emergency Preparedness." Send questions or ideas to [email protected]. Call 801-756-9223 to order her book.