gift giving does not have to be hard on the wallet or the earth. inspired by the article "no new gifts holiday challenge" on the zen habits blog, i channelled my inner martha stewart and brainstormed these lists of food-minded holiday gifts that don't require any trips to the mall or second mortgages. and the best part is they are as much a source of pleasure for the gift-giver as the recipient. less stress. more joy.
'tis the season.
think inside the box
decorate an old wooden box or shoebox and fill it with note cards and old postcards inscribed with your favorite quotes and blessings that could be read at mealtime. give the grace box with a note encouraging the recipient to add more to it.
chicken dinner in a box? more or less. fill a box with all the trimmings for a great roast chicken. think old school--herbs de provence, garlic, lemons, sancerre and kitchen twine. or go new school with red miso paste and mirin for delicious misoyaki chicken. include a "save the date" for roasting a chicken together.
compile your favorite cooking tunes into kitchen mix cds. include a great, fail-proof recipe on the cover of the cd case. my hard-hitting artists are louis prima, sam cooke, and ella fitzgerald singing the cole porter songbook. my fail-proof recipe is spicy roasted cashew chicken.
make a huge batch of french chocolate granola and package it in cellophane bags with pretty ribbon. bestow on friends and strangers, spreading breakfast cheer wherever you go. find the recipe here, on the wednesday chef.
a gift that freezes beautifully: the winning hearts and minds cake. bittersweet chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs and not much else. molly wizenberg even served it as her wedding cake--get the recipe here and instructions on freezing here.
chocolate-butterfinger truffles are the perfect gift to send home with guests after the party ends. find the recipe here.
mix cocoa powder, flaky sea salt, and a bit of demera sugar for homemade chocolate sea salt. package it in a salvaged baby food jar and decorate the lid. it's delicious sprinkled on chocolate chip cookies before baking.
short on time but want to give something decadent and homemade? millie's hand-crafted chocolate-peanut butter swirl vegan gelato (pictured above) is the most feel-good gift around, definitely if eaten together. find millie's here.
bivalve lover in your circle of friends? scour ebay and thrift stores for vintage oyster plates. the more bizarre the better. gift them with a copy of lewis carroll's the walrus and the carpenter.
turn your seashell collection into pretty gifts for a friend who loves to entertain--decorated seashells nestled with tealights lend the ultimate ambiance to the dinner table. and it's a great project for kids to help with.
pick up old betty crocker cookbooks from a used book store. they will be treasured by any kitchen-interested kid or nostalgic grown-up, especially when gifted with a vintage mixing bowl or cookie cutters.
turn old or odd-duck silverware into something new--key chains, hooks, even chandeliers. there are plenty of vintage silverware craft ideas here.
invite a loved one along to spend the day citrus picking at a local orchard. make chez pim's delicious bergamot madelines (recipe here) with your collected bounty. visit the "pick your own website" here to find a farm near you.
tie a selection of heirloom seeds with twine and an handwritten promise to start a garden together.
pack a pretty mixing bowl with corn husks and masa, plus a save-the-date for a tamale-making party. get your tamale on here.
arm a favorite kiddo with fabric pens and let them go to town on a canvas farmers market tote bag for a one-of-a-kind foodie gift. stuff the tote with local produce and a list of all your nearby markets, plus your favorite vendors at each.
feed someone hungry. invite friends and family to join you for a day of volunteering at your local food bank. learn about volunteering opportunities in san diego here.