It happens every year. You: a afficionado on which are the best frozen meals Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods/etc has to offer. Your friend: the person who comes to every gathering bearing a artfully decorated pie or baskets of whimsical cookies. And the time has come for you, who can recall the number to your local Chinese food joint faster than your social security number, to buy a gift for that foodie*.
While I am not known for artfully decorated baked goods (anyone who has knowledge of the great Halloween Bundt Cake disaster of 2012 can attest to this), I LOVE to cook. I LOVE to feed people. And as a result the eager home chef has received a boat load of well meaning but totally shitty presents from people over the years. He accepts them happily and TRULY appreciates the thought but in his head he’s thinking…now where am I supposed to keep THIS crap!?
Never fear, dear readers. I am here to guide you all. Take a deep breath. We can get through this.
Bad Gift #1: William Bounds Nutmeg Grinder – What to get for your co-worker who produces those glorious pumpkin pies/cakes/donuts
/glass shards/tarts/etc. ad nauseum starting the day after Labor Day? Not this. Odds are, your co-worker is shaking her nutmeg out of a store bought container. And even is she is grinding her own nutmeg? She’s not using this. Because its dumb. Stay away from uni taskers. Alton Brown said so.
Alternate Actual Awesome Gift: Glitterville Cake Cake Tin – if she’s bringing you delicious cakes and pies on the regular, she probably already has a sturdy and functional cake carrier. Thank her for those extra ten pounds and a budding case of diabetes with a little fun and whimsy. She will want to bake something just to able to use it. Something you will then eat. Everyone wins!
Bad Gift #2: Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit: You pulled your neighbors, the Johnsons, in the condo association grab bag. AWESOME. When they had you over for the Superbowl they served an impressive array of local IPA’s and have worked empty growlers from the local brewery into their home decor. They are a little nerdy. With a touch of crafty. What’s better than a box of stuff that gives them lots of work and quite possibly disgusting reward? Almost anything really. And if they are already the homebrew types, then this entry level gift is a waste for all involved.
Alternate Gift of the Not Sucky Variety: did you know that snifters, usually used for brandy or bourbon, are also optimal vessels for certain ales? The Johnsons do. With a purchase of a nice set of barware you just earned the title of #1 Neighbor. Well done my friend.
Bad Gift #3: Electric Wine Opener – Last Christmas I received a electric wine opener for Christmas. I had to open it on Christmas Eve because someone had brought wine to the party, but my mom didn’t have a wine opener. Harmless enough right? Well call me what you want (a lush perhaps) but a year later the batteries are dead and I can’t be assed to figure out how to replace them. So what do I use?
A Similar But Superior Option – 3- Piece Rabbit Wine Opener: I had this before I received its flashier noisier cousin. Guess which one is collecting dust? Fun and functional. Most of them will come with a foil cutter. I specialize in never knowing where mine is. You don’t need it. AWESOME.
Other items to stay away from:
Adjustable Non-Stick Burger Press: Unless the person you’re shopping for has some repressed memories concerning geometry and blood (high school can be tough), don’t enable this kind of laziness. Everyone is better for learning what size and thickness constitutes the perfect burger.
Spatulas – nothing says “I exerted no effort/put any thought into this gift while spending the least amount of money possible” like a random set of spatulas. Don’t be that person.
Try these instead:
Overpriced kitchen hand soaps/lotion from Williams- Sonoma in delicious scents. Trust me. These are awesome. A perfect gift for someone you don’t know all that well. Useful and functional without being overly personal.
This incredibly cute apron from ModCloth moves out away from being purely functional, but someone who entertains regularly will appreciate the option to slip into something more fabulous if kitchen duties linger after guests have arrived.
Any true kitchen master would agree that weighing ingredients is more accurate than other measurement tools. Most recipes these days still use the regular tbsp/cup/etc method. But the home cook likes nothing more than a challenge and will appreciate that you understand they are slightly ahead of the curve. Ensure that those cookies and pies are all they can be with this relatively inexpensive Oxo Food Scale.
*I hate the word foodie. And people who seriously call themselves “foodies”. “Foodies” are responsible for communal seating and $30 plates of hamhocks but that is another rant for another day.