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Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2: Clutter-Free Consumable Gifts: Food and Drink

This article was written by in Consumer, Shopping. 7 comments.

Besides charitable giving, this year I’m focusing on clutter-free gifts: experiences and consumables. While experiences are great gifts, consumables give you something to open and enjoy Christmas morning. has some nice suggestions for theme-based consumable gift collections, such as bulbs and seeds for a gardener, spice collections for someone who enjoys cooking, and the always-popular bath sundries collection for anyone who enjoys self-pampering. There’s even a very utilitarian garage-themed collection idea with motor oil, work gloves, etc.

My tastes run a bit more colorful, as I believe the holidays provide a great chance to give premium consumables, little luxuries life might not otherwise afford us.

My favorite food and drink gifts include:
* Aged Balsamic Vinegar – It’s a surprisingly flexible gift, suitable for everything from salad dressings and bread dips (include some fresh loaves of bread for an irresistable gift basket) to marinades and even as a topping for ice cream. There are a range of prices and qualities available, and The Splendid Table has a great guide. Print out some relevant recipes and include them, too!

* Wine – Even better when paired with a gift certificate to a BYOB restaurant and maybe a cute wine tote, but there’s so much you can do with wine gifts. A nice bottle you’ve tried and enjoyed, different vintages of the same wine so the recipient can sample and compare, or a selection of bottles from a region with accompanying reading material on that region’s wines can make a memorable gift. You can find nice, well-rated wines for less than $20 a bottle. Wine Club memberships are wonderful too if you have the budget.

* Say Cheese! – Last year one of the best gifts I got was a stylish reusable tote filled with a variety of fine imported cheeses, candied nuts, and crackers. Food gifts made for sharing are perfect for holiday entertaining. There are plenty of places out there which sell preassembled gift baskets, but I think the best approach is to find a local cheese shop or market and try things out yourself. Add fresh or dried fruit and nuts and you can make your own extravagant gift for much less than you’d pay at Harry and David or Williams-Sonoma.

* Sweets – Speaking of indulgence! Last year I gave my father-in-law a set of dark chocolate bars made from cocoa beans from different countries for a comparative tasting. Homemade cookies or cakes are always appreciated, and can provide a more economical gift alternative. I’m partial to british candy as a fun and inexpensive gift.

* Citrus Fruit – Sweeter than candy, the juice from Temple oranges is a rare treat in the cold winter months. I order them now for delivery January through March from Nokomis Groves. You could make a fabulous gift basket around a citrus gift (think breakfast kit) or let its sunny glory stand on its own.

* Salumis, Seafood and Special Meats – Salami, bacon, proscuitto, ham, smoked turkey, scallops, salmon – whether you spend a lot for a fine imported meat or seafood product or assemble your own basket from a local specialty shop, there’s much to choose from.

Whether you’re seeking truffles from France or salumis from Italy, finding a great source is key. If you can’t find these imported items at a local market, you can find them at a markup at Dean & Deluca, but you can also try your luck finding better deals and culinary rarities at sites like EthnicGrocer, Gustiamo (Italian), La Tienda (Spanish) and French Feast.

Amazon has a great collection of gourmet gifts under $25 worth checking out.

You can also take a look at Food411’s Holiday Picks or Sur la Table for more inspired gift ideas.

Image Credit: Sur la Table

Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published December 4, 2007.

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About the author

Along with her partner, Sasha owns and manage six residential rental units. Sasha endeavors to support the causes and organizations she believes in through more conscientious spending practices. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

These are great suggestions, I love consumable gifts, I much prefer to receive something I can eat or use than a trinket that will just require dusting. That link to the British Candy is distressing to this ex-pat in Canada though, I miss our sweet selection!

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avatar 2 Anonymous

An additional bonus to consumable gifts is that they are earth friendly–consumables don’t end up in landfill.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

I love the idea of giving consumables and experience gifts. We gave some high-end liquors as presents to the groomsmen at our wedding. Needless to say they were happy to not get another engraved jackknife.

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avatar 4 Sasha

Norma, I’m with you 100% on the landfill issue. To help out even more, you can wrap or pack gifts in recycled newspapers or colorful catalog pages, or pack in a reusable tote or container.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

Holiday Cookies made from scratch with Organic Ingredients are available for Christmas time, visit I think they only ship baked goods in the usa though…

Additionally their slogan is, “Ending world hunger, One Bite at a Time”, and are donating 10% of sales to Gleaners Community Food Bank and Other Charities…

The Cookies are just delightful, it is rare to find made from scatch, delicious Christmas Cookies and Wildflours has them. Check it out, also they care Gluten reduced and other organic products, coffee, teas, cool place

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avatar 6 Anonymous

I found a link to this article from Mrs. Micah’s page.

I really like your ideas…the chocolate sampling idea is great! I think I’ll make a trip to Whole Foods to get a few bars for gifts!

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avatar 7 Anonymous

Every year I make a double batch of homemade Butter Caramels. The recipe (Land O Lakes Aunt Emily’s Soft Caramels) is SO easy to make and for about $10 worth of ingredients and a few treat bag supplies I can make pretty little gift bags of caramels for about 20 people and still have plenty left over for my own family to eat. People love these because they’re homemade, decadent and very special – not something you eat every day. I also love getting inexpensive holiday nesting boxes and filling them with my own special, homemade treats and making a “Tower of Treats” (just like Henry and David but at 10% of the price!) for gift giving. Nesting box towers are a great way to present many types of consumable gifts. Merry Christmas!

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