The Best Holiday Gifts for Hosts & Home Cooks

Make the hosts and home cooks in your life happy with this helpful guide to fun and practical holiday gifts!

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Due to my love of all things food, it’s no surprise that I often get questions on what would be a good gift for hosts and home cooks during the holiday season. It’s usually an easy question to answer – I just think about the gifts I’ve loved over the years or items I always find I need more of. This year I finally got around to compiling those thoughts into a handy holiday gift guide (complete with a few general suggestions on what to avoid, if you need help in that department). Read on for some gifting inspiration, and have a fun and creative holiday season!

For the Industrious Home Cook:

For the Host with the Most:

  • High quality and handmade serving boards are almost always needed, be they wooden butcher blocks, cutting boards, marble slabs, or cheese trays. Check out local craft faires, antique shops, and the sales sections of Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie for some interesting and unique finds.
  • Fancy ice molds – round, square, or even fun shapes like octopi – are a great addition to any home bar.
  • Locally made and small batch ingredients are a great, consumable gift sure to get some use. Look for fancy bitters, jams and preserves, flavored honey, oils, vinegar, coffee, and tea in interesting flavors. This is also a great thing to pick up on your travels, as we love trying new things from far off places.

And If All Else Fails:

  • There are all sorts of subscription boxes, services, & gift cards on the market these days. Here are a few I personally recommend:
    • Shaker & Spoon – A monthly subscription box containing all the syrups, spices, and mixes you need to make three different inventive cocktails – just add the liquor! You can pick up a past box featuring a spirit your friend loves, or a gift subscription.
    • Butcher Box – I love this subscription for ethically sourced meat and poultry, and with this link you could get $30 off your first box for the holidays!
    • Misfit Market – Order a one-time box or a gift card and give access to affordable, fresh “misfit” produce to a friend or loved one. Not only does the service reduce food waste, there is always a variety of fruits and veggies in every box.
    • Gift cards and monthly club subscriptions for tea, coffee, spice shops, and chocolate are always welcome too! (Just be careful with any wine, beer, or liquor clubs – make sure they deliver to your recipients’ state.)

BONUS – Things to Avoid:

Let’s face it – shopping for someone else’s kitchen or pantry can be daunting, especially if they are known to have a bit of everything. Here are a few items I personally try to avoid in my holiday shopping (or know I’d rather not receive). Take this with a grain of salt however – you know your loved one best, so don’t be deterred if you know one of the below would be the perfect gift!

  • Large appliances: Not everyone has space for a ton of gadgets, especially when many in my generation are living in apartments or otherwise shared spaces. Things like pressure cookers, slow cookers, and mixers are incredibly thoughtful and great if pulled from a gift registry, but they take up a large footprint in terms of storage. Make sure the recipient actually wants (or needs) such a big purchase before surprising them with one.
  • On that subject, large or hard to store items of any kind: IE, huge decorative bowls, vases, statues, lamps, etc. Unless you know it’s a perfect fit or something we’ve been wanting, don’t potentially burden a friend or family with something we have to find space for.
  • Gimmicky kitchen items: If you are shopping for an avid home cook or host, avoid those “As Seen On TV” or otherwise kitschy gadgets for the kitchen. Unless it solves a problem we are actively having, it will just likely just sit in a drawer gathering dust.
  • Budget or sale rack cookbooks: Trust me, we love a new beautiful cookbook that reminds us of a favorite restaurant, vacation, style of cooking, or really anything with gorgeous pictures and acclaimed reviews. Even the celebrity cookbooks can be a lot of fun. Absolutely get us those. What we don’t need are the dime-a-dozen recipe books you can find on the sale racks of big book stores. They are usually pretty basic, and most likely, we have a book or favorite web resource that already covers the content.

I hope this list helps you with any last minute holiday shopping, and let me know any additional items you’d love to receive in the comments!

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