Welcome to the second post in a series of holiday gift ideas. With Black Friday just around the corner (or, for myself and hopefully lots of other people, Buy Nothing Day), I wanted to explore some perhaps unconventional gift ideas for you to show your loved ones that you really care.
The theme for this week’s post…
I’m a big fan of edible gifts. For one, they don’t stick around forever. Your mom isn’t going to put it on a shelf to collect dust for like seven years before she’s ready to throw it into a Goodwill box or set aside for a yard sale. Food is liminal; you have it, you eat it, you enjoy it, and then you have the freedom to move on with your life.
For two, food is budget-friendly. This means you can spend as much or as little as you like and still have a good gift. Whether it’s a pound of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or a $350 Gift Trunk “For The Extreme Foodie” that contains some booze-soaked chocolate-covered cherries, wine-soaked salami, Italian goat’s milk cheese, and Jamon Iberico (none of which I’ve ever eaten in my life). One of the great things about food is that, if it’s delicious, no non-assholey-person seems to care about what it costs (and if you’re the type of person who thinks expensive food is the only kind worth eating, let’s go to the fair and get some deep fried oreos. I can show you a good time).
And finally, for threesies, while it takes some degree of knowledge of the person to whom you’re gifting, for the most part, food gifts are a no-brainer. There are a couple of questions to which you should know the answer–is your giftee allergic to something? Do they have an absolute food dislike? Do they adhere to a special diet?
(The special diet one is very important. A secret santa once gave me a salami and cheese basket. I’m a vegetarian and have been so for many years. Pretty much anyone in the office could have told him that, but to be fair, he was going through a pretty heinous breakup at the time. I secretly passed off the salami to another coworker, but the cheese was, in fact, delicious.)
I’m an American, and you know what we say over here–BIGGER IS BETTER! BOY HOWDY!
Just kidding. That’s a gross generalization, although I would say Americans are obsessed with “value,” which we interpret as crazy giant portions at restaurants. But I digress…
I’m a fan of anything that’s a size it shouldn’t be. Teeny tiny cooking show? Check. Giant Pikachus dancing? Yes please. And the fact that these videos have over 1.6 million and 2.8 million views respectively means that I’m not alone. People love things that are the wrong size.
In steps comically-oversized candies.
Like the aforementioned Reese’s Cups, these comically-oversized candies are sure to elicit a laugh and shouts of good cheer when they’re unwrapped on Christmas morning (or pulled out of a stocking or wooden shoe or whatever it is your family does for the holidays). Does your brother love the taste of creamy nougat with delicious peanuts? Try this one pound Snickers bar. Want to give your significant other the biggest kiss ever? How about one that’s 12 ounces?
And let’s not forget the mother of all giant candy bars, the five pound Hershey bar. Is there a better way to thank your mom for putting up with your shit for so many years than giving her a candy that could also double as a child’s sled?
A Bevy of Meats
For those of us that are looking for something a little more practical, there’s always meat. While I’m a vegetarian, the rest of my family are not; and my brother was definitely the favorite gift-giver in our household when he got my mom and her husband a whole bunch of meat from Omaha Steaks.
My brother went for a set that is currently called “Tasteful Gift.” Tasteful, indeed. This set comes with two each of filet mignon, top sirloin, and boneless pork chops, as well as four burgers, potatoes au gratin, and caramel apple tartlets, and a “signature seasoning packet.”
What’s really great about this gift is that these are all things our parents would eat, if they were willing to spend the money on it. My mom is a saver, and as a single mother of two kids for our early years, she had to be; however, sometimes I worry that her penny-pinching (a trait I admire, truly!) stands in the way of her allowing herself to enjoy some nicer things. That’s why gifts like these are great–they’re something she likes but would never spend the money on for herself.
That, in my opinion, is the definition of an ideal gift.
Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone who is very busy and perhaps may not have the time to make their own meals? Someone who is experiencing some sort of crisis or hard time, like a temporary disability or unexpected medical care for a relative? Or someone who appreciates food but doesn’t feel like cooking is totally “worth it”?
In these cases, a pre-made meal might be a much-appreciated gift.
Not just for those who’ve recently had a baby, pre-made meals can be appreciated by everyone. There are a lot of different ways you could go about this–the aforementioned Omaha Steak route includes meat and sides that require some cooking. Or you could look for something that just essentially needs to be heated up.
Harry and David have 93 pre–made meals listed on their website. 93!!!! They have a chicken pot pie that serves six and just needs to be heated up. They have a fancy filet mignon dinner for two that includes two six oz bacon-wrapped filet mignons, mashed potatoes, green beans, 36 (36!!!) pastry appetizers, and a chocolate cake. They also have a boatload of vegetarian (but not vegan) sides and appetizers as well.
Food of the Month
Ah, a subscription food plan–the gift that keeps on giving. A ‘Food of the Month’ plan will send food in quarterly or monthly installments to your loved ones. A Food of the Month plan is a great option for practical reasons or for people in your life who you think might need a little extra help, but don’t want to admit or accept it. I’ve given a few examples above–busy families or caregivers/those experiencing medical issues/emergencies–but they’re also just great for people who love food and getting packages.
The Spruce has already made a list of the 8 Best Food-of-the-Month Clubs of 2019. The include options for snacks, fruits, gourmet ingredients, and even a breakfast of the month club.
Frankly, I’m partial to the monthly clubs from Murray’s Cheese. While a full year is definitely on the more expensive end ($790!!!!), the Cheesemonger’s Picks Cheese of the Month Club looks frickin’ amazing.
(One of my greatest life regrets is leaving New York before I got to take one of their cheese-making classes.)
Food is delicious. It doesn’t stick around for years, there are options to fit every budget, and pretty much everybody loves food. Happy holidays!