Enough gift cards without creativity. Enough knick-knacks and tchotchkes. We all have enough things to store, and possibly re-gift in the future.
It’s time for gifts that create an experience. We’re not talking about a cruise, or a trip to Disney, although those would, of course, be great gifts (PM me if you’d like to give me one). These are simply great gifts that you can find in local stores or on websites such as Amazon. We tried to keep them under $50, too!
All of these are meant as an inspiration to design your own creative experience, based on the interests of the person you are gifting. But, since you are currently on a food website, and they are your friend, odds are good they’ll like these food-oriented ideas! Here goes:
Culinary mysteries are getting even more popular, and we’ve written about them before. You could also buy one with recipes in it, then select a recipe and buy the ingredients. Then your gift will include a thoughtful novel and a fun cooking experience that, if you are lucky, you can share in the tasting!
To buy, search online for “culinary mysteries with recipes.” We’ve recommended a few of our favorite authors at the link above. If it’s a new author to you or your friend, be sure to start with Book 1.
Cost: $5-$15 + ingredients
Cheese Making Kits
Help them make cheese! You can go with a book here, too, but why not try the cheese making kit offered by Standing Stone Farms. It’s for beginners, so no fear. The kit contains everything except the fresh dairy products to make cheese such as Mozzarella, Chevre, Queso Blanco, Queso Fresco, Mascarpone or Ricotta.
Cost: Around $25 + shipping
Wine Tasting Party
While we’re on the subject of cheese, maybe we should add a little wine. With this gift idea, you can either make your own party for your friends or gift the party-pack (and include a bottle or two of wine)—and hold a blind tasting party. You get 10 Tasting Tip Sheets, 50 Tasting Note Sheets, 10 Numbered Wine Bags, 50 Paper Wine Glass Tags, and 10 Pencils, so just add wine and you have a party!
Or, get the best of both worlds with a wine and cheese tasting party. It comes with everything you need for cutting and serving the cheese and setting up the tasting, including a bamboo cheese board, 4 cheese tools, 4 cheese markers, and 5 blind wine tasting bags with wine tasting games.
Cost: Around $30-45 + shipping; add wine.
Okay, take tasting to the next level with a little chocolate. You can choose your own variety of chocolates, like these from TCHO, or purchase a Green & Black tasting collection (one for each guest) or go with this collection from ChocoLove and get instructions on how to do a formal tasting. No matter what, it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate.
Cost: Around $10 – $55 + shipping
Want your gift to stick around a while? Try a planting experience with something like the Asian Pear Gift Basket. You get a “green” gift basket that includes a fabric planter pot, dried moss, and winter flower bulbs, plus two packages of dried Asian Pears and a jar of all-natural Asian Pear Spread.
Cost: Around $35 + shipping
Take a food tour in a nearby city. You can do Taste of Denver or go to Bienville Bites in in Mobile, or try a Kansas City BBQ Tour—pick a city and see what you can find. If you are nearby or can manage the trip, these can be a lot of fun and you get to taste the food and learn more about the city along the way.
Cost: $45 – $75
Beer Brewing Kit
Ever had the urge to get in on the backyard brewing trend? Get your friend started with a beer making kit, like the one from Brooklyn Brew Shop. It’s designed for beginners with step-by-step instructions for use in your home kitchen.
With it, you’ll get an IPA making mix (grain, hops, and yeast), a 1-gallon reusable glass fermenter, glass spirit-filled thermometer, vinyl tubing, racking cane & tip, chambered airlock, Brooklyn Brew Shop cleanser, and screw-cap stopper.
Cost: Around $40 + shipping, strainer, funnel, pot, and bottles
Spice it Up
If beer isn’t your thing to make, how about hot sauce? You can get a kit to make your own from Grow & Make Products. It includes 6 bottles with lid and dashers, customizable labels, gloves, instruction booklet and more. You can choose your style, too, from six different recipes, such as the classic Louisiana Hot Sauce Recipe or the Smoky Chipotle Hot Sauce Recipe.
Cost: Around $40 + shipping
Become a Chef
We’ll just say upfront that this one is more expensive but come on, wouldn’t you want to try this? Benihana is offering a “Be The Chef” promotion where you can learn some of the art of teppanyaki from one of their chefs—including a couple of Benihana’s iconic tricks. Give this one to yourself then host a dinner where you can show off your newfound skills.
According to their website (sorry, we haven’t had a chance to try this one), each package includes a training session, Splash ‘N Meadow entrées and vegetable fried rice for guest chef and guests, Benihana hat, Benihana apron, Honorary Teppanyaki Chef certificate and commemorative photo.
Cost: The Be The Chef packages start at just $200 for a guest chef and three guests. For larger parties, add additional guests for just $50 each or purchase a package for a guest chef and seven guests for just $360.
Take a Day Trip
Take your giftee to a zoo, theme park, or amusement park and indulge in the food instead of the rides or the exhibits. You might be amazed at how things have changed. Cost: Depends on your choice.
Of course, if you have a little more to spend, check out some of the new food tourism activities offered by local Community Supported Agriculture or even by local hotels. Some are offering a glimpse into the kitchens and the gardens, including the ability to choose the vegetables that will be on your table that evening!