Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Minute Foodie Gift Ideas

Check out the ultimate Barefoot Contessa Gift Basket...one can only dare to dream...
With just four days left until the Big Holiday, those of you procrastinating shoppers who still have a long list left to cover may be slowly starting to panic.  Never fear, my friends, you need not look farther than your local grocery to get all your shopping finished in one fell swoop, and perhaps grab yourself a bottle of wine on the way out to reward your creativity and effort.  We are lucky enough to have a small, locally-owned specialty grocery in our neighborhood which makes a last minute spree like this one all the more fun and rewarding, but many big chain groceries have ethnic, gourmet or health food aisles where you could do some promising damage.  Here is my gift/grocery list to help you on your way:

1) Good Olive Oil: great olive oil is such a treat to have on hand for everything from simple pasta dishes to dunking fresh bread.  You can get a wonderful bottle for anywhere from $15-30, or find an Italian specialty shop, buy a vat of the stuff, and get pretty bottles from someplace like an Ikea or your local craft shop, sterilize them, and create your own bottles tied with festive ribbon for simple gifts or stocking stuffers.

2) Ditto the above with Great Balsamic Vinegar.

3) Jenna at Eat Live Run has a great tutorial up on making vanilla sugar for a gift, and all you need is a couple pounds of the white goodness and some vanilla beans to recreate this idea in your kitchen.

4) Local Jams and Jellies make unique and special gifts.  However, even non-local brands can be a delicious treat.  We love Bonne Mamon and Crofters Organic jams, both of which are available at large grocery stores.  Create a package of four and pair it with a fresh baguette from your favorite bakery, or some new tea towels if you are shipping it farther than bread will travel.

5) Have you seen the vast array of nut butters for sale these days?  Everything from hazelnut butter to white chocolate or maple peanut butter to almond butter seem to be proliferating on the supermarket shelves.  Nut butters tend to be pricey ($8-10 per jar), and I think most people stick to good old PB to get the most bang for their buck, which makes specialty nut butters a perfect gift.  They're special, versatile and a bit of a treat; all hallmarks of good gifty-ness.  I've heard great things about all the varieties from Peanut Butter & Co.

6) Most guys I know would be pretty thrilled to receive a case of local, seasonal beer with a bow on it.

7) Why not provide your recipient with an instant party?  Buy a bottle of wine (it need not be super-pricey to be good), a hunk of aged cheddar, some fabulous crackers, a jar of olives, and some candied nuts, throw them in a cute reusable grocery bag, and your friend has half their holiday party menu solved, or a damn good dinner for two.

What's your favorite last minute holiday gift?
It's the thought that counts, you know.


  1. I think it goes without saying that the holidays are all about giving the gift of love.

    And I by "love", I mean..........



  2. People around this time start asking for my great grandma's fudge...so I like to give that BUT, with this being a "last minute gift" post (and even though the fudge is pretty darn easy), I'll stick to store bought. My favorite is like your last idea, "instant party". I love to go to World Market and load up on mini bottles of wine, smoked salmon, cheeses and fancy mustards...and maybe some sweet stuff too. I usually try to tailor it to what I think the person would like. Sometimes I do "theme" baskets, like, an "english tea" basket or "italian feast" basket....I love picking out all the components. :-)