I’m finally taking the plunge into the gift guide game. These are all things that I would love to receive. So, even if I don’t become the final word on gift-giving, at least my family will know what to get me! And, because not everyone wants more “stuff” in their lives, every guide will include an experience. Never forget that the greatest gift you can usually give someone is time – time away from social media, time shared together, time to learn something new!
A note on Foodie Gifts…I’ve intentionally picked things that aren’t just for hardcore foodies. They make terrific presents for family, friends, coworkers, and holiday party hosts. Not everyone loves to cook, but most people love to eat – especially when given something unique or unexpected. So, I’ve tried to include a little something for every level of chef, entertainer, or general lover of food.
These two are my top cookbook picks this season because Julia Turshen and Ina Garten are both known for flavorful classics that are also very accessible to non-expert chefs, like myself. They often also include useful tips and inspirational images for cooking without recipes, when I’m feeling more adventurous.
Of course, there are LOTS of great cookbooks out this year. I’m particularly drawn to those that document and explore cultural differences, like these that investigate the tastes of Spain (which I’m really missing this holiday season!) and Syria (a highly compelling topic given the conflict in the region), and the fusion of flavors between India and the American South (wuuuut?!?).
There’s something about eating pancakes that always makes me feel like a kid again. A pancake gift set is perfect for the holidays when folks have time away from work and feel inspired to make special breakfasts. Add a package of mix to suit the recipient – I’m a fan of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Pancake Mix – and a special topping like this bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup. Can’t lose!
What can I say? Some like it hot! Spicy sweet, spicy savory, spicy spicy…this trio covers it all. Fans use them in coffee, tea, cocktails…on oatmeal, waffles, and fried chicken…to spruce up baked goods and grandma’s favorite recipes. Heads up, the sriracha is not gluten-free, and the honey, like all honey, is not vegan. But, you can buy everything separately.
I am a huge fan of Big Picture Farm caramels. They’re so creamy and delicious. The unique goat’s milk flavor makes them entirely addictive. Now…they come covered in chocolate!! I’m dying over here. Must send order immediately. BTW…these come in cute boxes that are great to have around for that horrific moment when you desperately need an extra little gift.
We received a set of cheese knives as a wedding gift and I never thought we would use them. Alas, I love bringing them out. They make both small and large gatherings feel just a touch more special. Plus, it’s the sort of thing that you can mix and match if you have multiple sets.
Not everything has to be serious at the holidays! In fact, few things should be. Inject a little fun into your entertaining with some silly accessories. These make wonderful hostess gifts and stocking stuffers.
This is the kind of thing that I would never buy for myself, but would totally love to play with to make culinary masterpieces! You know, for two of us…since I wouldn’t dare mess up a meal for friends. Ha! Still, fun.
I adore enamelware, and these little milk pots and jugs from Dexam Home are too cute! RF is not keen on single purpose kitchen items, and I understand where he’s coming from. We do live in a small house with limited storage. But, there’s nothing like heating up an adorable pot of milk for real hot chocolate. And, these are charming enough to display.
Classes & Events:
As I mentioned in the intro, I’m a HUGE FAN of giving experiences over stuff. There are loads of classes, meals, potlucks, food swaps, author talks, and more that are perfect for foodies. Check out local restaurants, bookstores, community centers, and schools for events in your area. And, don’t forget online! Skillshare offers so many terrific culinary classes from the comfort of your computer – everything from honing your knife skills to mixing the perfect cocktail to shaping Asian-style dumplings – all taught by popular chefs and well-known culinary purveyors.
In Seattle, I recommend Book Larder, a community cookbook bookstore. They host a variety of events every month, including their popular Lunch Break! one-hour, lunchtime, cooking classes. The Pantry at Delancey hosts potlucks and food swaps, and their classes run the gamut from Homemade Holiday Gifts to Tastes of Thailand to a 2-Day Molecular Gastronomy Workshop.
If you’re feeling a super splurge, Outstanding in the Field will be in Argentina, Chile, Hawaii, and Mexico this winter. Or, keep an eye out for pop-up farm-to-table meals, or other special dining events, in your area.