Gift giving is totally my love language. There’s nothing that brings me more joy than watching somebody unwrap a gift I know they’re going to melt over. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s not always about the gift itself. The way it’s wrapped and how it’s presented make all the difference. Go for fewer, more special gifts, but make the gifting an experience in any way you can.
My dad is famous for wrapping presents in brown paper then hand painting little clues about what is inside. And my mom is the bow queen. She can tie the biggest, most sparkly, fabulous wired bow in the blink of an eye. Grab some fallen pinecones or snip some branches of garland to add a little oomph to your wrapping!
Give an extra special gift scavenger hunt style or by wrapping something tiny in a huge box. You can also write a note and put it in a tiny box to lead the recipient to something huge hiding in the garage!
Below are my top ten favorite cooking items and little treats that make life easier and (more importantly) more joyful.
1. For the Hostess: Bon Aprontit Aprons
I love these fun, festive aprons! They’re the perfect way to maintain your chic even while you may be covered in powdered sugar. Mine is Dash of Pepper, but I’ve got my eye on Tuxedo and Fruitcake for the holiday season. (Use code FOODLALA for 15% off!)
2. For the Conservationist: Imperfect Produce Subscription
In the U.S. we throw away so much fresh produce (over 60 million pounds—yikes), but Imperfect Produce rescues it and delivers it to your door for a highly discounted rate. Though it may have an extra lump or bump, the food is always beautiful and fresh. I’d suggest starting with the small organic box, then scaling up if you need more. And, (my favorite part!), you can customize your box each week so you only receive things you know you can and want to use! They also issue gift certificates. (Use code FOODLALA for 20% off your first box!)
3. For the Hydrator: Sodastream
I’m a sparkling water fiend so I just love this thing. It makes drinking water more fun. Ditch the flavor packets it comes with and add your own (fresh sliced ginger, mint leaves, muddled citrus). The best part? You’ll always have a cocktail mixer on hand!
4. For the Hustler: All Birds Wool Shoes
These shoes changed my life. I wore old, worn-out Tory Burch flats to cater one of my first private dinner parties. I didn’t know what knee and back pain was until that night. My fiancé surprised me with a pair of these a few months ago and they’re now my go-to shoe for hosting events. They will keep you happily on your feet all day and into the night. (They’re also eco friendly.)
5. For the Sweet Toothed: Food La La Macaron Workshop
Because we all have so much stuff, I love to give experiences. Whether you’ve got an avid baker or just somebody who enjoys bottomless champagne on your list, get them a few tickets to a French macaron workshop! They’ll learn some of my coveted baking secrets, enjoy endless bubbly, and will have fun unleashing their creativity with a bounty of edible glitter, jewels, metallic paints and bespoke sprinkles. (Click here for a list of all upcoming dates)
6. For the Cook: Wusthof Knives
If you’ve never cooked with a really great knife (read: me until I was 27), you don't know what your missing. A solid, sharp knife is a game changer. If you don’t want to splurge for a block of new knives, start with a chef’s knife and a pairing knife. I received my first set of knives on my first day of cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. I’ve never tried any other brand—but I don’t think I will. German made products are always the best.
7. For the Fancy: Mauviel French Copper Cookware
It ain’t cheap, but it’ll last a lifetime. Some of the most special gifts I’ve received have been copper (pots, cake pans, cocktail shakers). Mauviel is available at both Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table. (For a unique glimpse into how these pieces are made, click here).
8. For the Eater: French Sea Salt
The best stocking stuffer! The right salt makes average food great. Even steamed broccoli takes on a whole new flavor if seasoned properly. Try a few different types: Fleur de sel, French grey sea salt, lemon Cyprus salt, or black truffle salt.
9. For the Lush: Wine and Moxxi Organic and Biodynamic Wines
It’s so important to consider organic not only with our food but also with our drink. I love their cute gift boxes: Pretty in Pink and White (because..I just like pink stuff) and the Bubbly Trio (because…bubbles!). But if you have a real wine lover on your list, try one of their monthly subscription boxes. (Use code "FOODLALA" for $10 off!)
10. For the Homemaker: Le Creuset Enameled Pot
These seem like a right of passage once you get married, or get your own home. But, I don’t think there is any reason to wait. I love cooking in these! The weight of the pot ensures food cooks evenly. I have the matte white (we call it the wishing pot!) but there are so many fun colors to choose from. I always like to purchase big ticket items like this at Bed Bath and Beyond and use one of those 20% off coupons!