Holiday Gifts: Eatable Edibles!

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…

EATABLE EDIBLES

Me too.

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.) 

Comically-Oversized Candies

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.

Pre-Made Meals

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 premade 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.)

In Conclusion

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!

HOLIDAY GIFTS: APOCALYPSE, NOW!

Welcome to the first 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 you really care. 

The theme for this week’s post…

APOCALYPSE: NOW!

Wildfires will be a huge factor in the upcoming climate wars.

Last year, my theme for presents was ‘Apocalypse: Now!’ Everyone in my family got items that would be useful in the event of the grid going down. I know this sounds crazy, but most of my family lives in North Carolina–aka prime hurricane country (for example, my high school was pretty severely damaged by Hurricane Florence). While my family currently lives far enough away from the coast to miss a lot of the damage from all but the category fours and fives, they still live in areas that receive a lot of flooding. In the event of an emergency (aka the upcoming climate wars), I want them to be prepared. Here’s what I gave to my family:

LifeStraw

Each member of my family got a LifeStraw. A LifeStraw is a water purification device that is essentially a straw with a large filter. As per the website, the filter removes:

• 99.999999% of bacteria (including E. coli)

• 99.999% of parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.)

• 99.999% of microplastics

You can drink directly from a lake or stream if you want to! And it filters 1,000 gallons, which (according to the website) is enough to let one human drink for five years. It’s super lightweight, so it’s great for throwing into your go-bag when you’re running away from floodwaters or fires. 

(Just kidding. It should be in your go-bag already. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!)

This gift is also great for the explorers in your life (and feel free to use that as an excuse if you think your loved ones don’t take your fear of a total global meltdown seriously). I bought one for my partner when he went off to spend a year living and working in Bhutan. He drank the water there with his LifeStraw and didn’t die of dysentery, so it seems like it works.

Additionally, it also removes microplastics, so I’m thinking of getting one just for everyday use as well, since apparently there are 7 million microplastic particles in San Francisco Bay

36-Hour Candle

When the grid goes down, your lights will go out (unless you have a back-up generator…but that too can fail if you don’t have enough fuel to run it!). What can your family turn to when they need to light their way in the darkness? The SE Survivor Series 3-Wick 36-Hour Emergency Candle. It has three wicks to ensure the candle evenly burns (please note each wick lasts 12 hours, so don’t light them all at once), and it comes packaged in a reusable aluminum tin. Reusability will be a valuable asset in the upcoming zombie apocalypse, so this candle makes a great option for people who want to see but also want something in which to store their remaining ammunition. 

Heirloom Seed Pack

My mom and her husband live on a fairly large parcel of land (“large” by suburban standards). Straddling the line between suburban and rural (a subdivision next to farmland), she has the space to grow food and already has a large vegetable garden. However, she limits herself to just a few varieties of vegetables–tomatoes, peppers, etc. While she’s covered on the Vitamin C front, what about all the other nutrients that she will need to survive? 

I gave her the Survival Garden Heirloom Seed Pack from Open Seed Vault. This package contains 32 different seed varieties. While this clearly isn’t every vegetable or fruit that exists, it should keep the basics covered. For example, she’ll be able to get her protein (beans, peas, and sunflower seeds), greens (kale, spinach, and three kinds of lettuce!), and even get a little bit of fruit (cantaloupe and watermelon). 

Supposedly the package is air-tight and moisture-proof, and the seeds should last for at least 20 years. I’ll mark on my calendar to get her some new ones in 2038, provided we still have a civilization then. 

Emergency Biscuits

However, your family is going to need something to munch on while they’re waiting for the produce to grow (and as emergency supplies for when a mob tries to take over their compound). At this point, they’ll probably be so hungry that it doesn’t matter what they’re eating. However, you can save them from resorting to boiling shoe leather and then viewing each other as delicious entrees with some emergency biscuits. 

These Emergency Food Rations consist of 3600 calorie bars. They are cut into pre-measured 400 calories bits, and supposedly can sustain one person for up to three days. They’re kosher and halal (hooray!) and, according to the description, have a “pleasant lemon flavor.” Better yet, one reviewer describes them as being the “Best emergency ration [they] have tasted so far.” 

Think of it like lembas from the Lord of the Rings. You can finally live your fantasy of being a hobbit on a quest to throw the One Ring into the fires of Mt. Doom. It’s like LARPing, except you might actually die if something goes wrong!

These come vacuum-sealed but with a shelf life of only five years, so you’ll probably have a chance to taste-test them before end of days. Just don’t forget to order more!

First Aid Kit

So what happens when you accidentally burn yourself with your 36 hour emergency candle or injure yourself with a farm implement when you’re working on your heirloom seed garden? The hospitals will have long since been looted for opiates, so you’ll have to take the doctoring into your own hands.

Depending on the size of your survival colony, you’re going to need some serious supplies. That’s where the Lightning X Extra Large Medic First Responder EMT Trauma Bag comes in. This kit has everything*–a finger splint, two types of sheers, a CPR barrier kit, an airway kit…It even has a goddamn stethoscope! I could go on and on, but it’d be easier if you check it out yourself.

Most importantly, it comes with a First Aid Guide, so you know what the hell you’re doing with all that gauze.

You can get a first aid kit for your pets too! After all, all pets will become working animals once shit hits the fan.

In Conclusion

While we can be optimistic, let’s face it–shit happens. Climate change is real. Severe weather events are getting more extreme. The best way to show your loved ones you care is helping them prepare for the inevitable Mad Max future. Happy holidays, and stay safe!

* Ice sculptures, winos, Germfs – German smurfs – a Teddy Ruxpin wearing mascara, an old lady wearing Kid ‘N Play hair, and none other than DJ Baby Bok Choy…He’s a giant 300-pound Chinese baby who wears tinted aviator glasses and he spins records with his little ravioli hands.