Any time my family asks me what I want for a holiday, I say I either want something small, or something that, eventually, will be used up and not be taking up space in my 750-square-foot apartment. By that logic, there’s always room for something new in the fridge and pantry.
Edible gifts are a great option for most people, because most people enjoy eating. But they are also a great way to give someone something they would never buy for themselves. The idea of buying expensive olive oil for myself seems ludicrous and irresponsible, but from someone else I’m ready to drizzle it on everything. Maybe your cousin wants to get cheese but is too intimidated to talk to a cheesemonger. Or maybe you know your mom just really likes granola and would love more of it.
But the best part about edible gifts is they have a way of bringing the party with them. As soon as someone opens one, it’s likely they’ll want to share, adding a new jam to the breakfast spread or opening that tin of flavored popcorn for everyone. So if you’re not the type of person who jars your own tomato sauce every year and gives it away, here are several options for deliciously thoughtful, edible gifts.
The most on-trend can of fish
If there are two things that are in right now, it’s tinned fish and chile crisp. And earlier this year, the country’s chicest tinned fish brand teamed up with the hottest condiment brand to combine them into tins of smoked salmon with Sichuan chile crisp, making for a perfectly umami, tingly treat. The sky’s the limit when it comes to serving the filets: Pour the contents over rice, add them to an omelet, or flake the spicy fish over a salad. Give a pack to your sibling who loves tuna salad and hot sauce equally.
Rogue Creamery is an award-winning purveyor of dairy from Oregon, whose Rogue River Blue cheese — an aged blue wrapped in pear liquor-soaked syrah leaves — was the first American cheese to win the top prize at the World Cheese Awards. The Rogue River Blue, as well as a selection of other blue cheeses, cheddar, sausage, nuts, and crackers, is part of the creamery’s Best of the Pacific Northwest box, with products both from the creamery itself and other loyal purveyors. Just make sure the recipient is a fan of blue cheese.
A complex nonalcoholic beverage
Whether this is for a relative who doesn’t drink, or one who just likes fancy little beverages, the Proxies tasting set provides. The four nonalcoholic wines are flavored with vinegar, tea, spices, and dried herbs to create complexity akin to their alcoholic counterparts. They work as mixers or shine on their own, so the dinnertime options no longer have to be getting buzzed or pairing a gourmet home-cooked meal with ginger ale.
A party-pack of oysters
This is one of those gifts that’s as much for you as for the recipient, for when you want the whole family to talk about how you made the night-before party better than the holiday itself. Island Creek Farm has been farming oysters in Duxbury, Massachusetts, for over 25 years, and boasts that its oysters are the house oysters at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Per Se. Its Happy Hour Holiday pack comes with two dozen oysters, half a pound of lobster meat, and 30 grams of white sturgeon caviar, perfect for a smaller party. Don’t be surprised if Auntie asks you what a caviar bump is.
Display-worthy olive oil and vinegar
There is no shortage of fancy olive oil on the market right now, as many people have figured out there’s a big difference between the $8 Cento jug you cook with, and the stuff that makes all the restaurant salads taste good. The oil from Kosterina is cold-pressed from Koroneiki olives from southern Greece, while the balsamic vinegar comes from Lambrusco and trebbiano grapes from Modena, Italy. The oil is the perfect balance between smooth and peppery, while the vinegar almost tastes like dark chocolate. Plus, the bottles are elegant enough to stay on the counter.
Their very own farm-to-table pipeline
A great gift usually comes with a story. Rent Mother Nature is an organization that basically serves as an online CSA. By purchasing a lease, you support independent farmers in exchange for a minimum yield of what they grow, as well as progress reports throughout the year. You can sign someone up to lease fresh chevre from Berkshire goats, Minnesota wild rice harvested by members of the Ojibwe Lake Reservation, medjool dates grown in California, or stone-ground bread flour. Get ready for “omg the harvest is here!!” texts months later.
Vegan charcuterie board supplies
The past few years have seen a boom in both the quality and variety of vegan cheeses and meat substitutes, so even vegans who swear by slices of Field Roast now have a few more options at their disposal. Riverdel is a vegan cheesemonger operating out of New York’s Essex Market since 2015. Its cheese and charcuterie box features a selection of vegan cheeses and meats, based on what’s in inventory or to the customer’s tastes, along with accouterments like fig jam, crackers, and savory spreads. Sure, the selections are so convincing you may not know they’re vegan, but that’s not the bar anymore. You’ll just know they’re good.
All the pickles anyone could want
Pickle is one of the hottest flavors of the year, so treat the pickle-lover in your life — whether it’s your on-trend sibling or your deli-loving zayde — to this variety gift box from Mouth. Selections include garlic dills, pumpernickel bread and butters, and pickle chips brined with beer, so they can load up every sandwich and cheese board with a hit of crisp and salt. And they can use all the leftover brine to make martinis later on.
A trio of elegant hot sauce
Pakistani couple Alyzeh Rizvi and Ahmer Zaidi started Peepal People out of a desire to infuse hot sauce with the fermented, complex flavors of the achaars they grew up with. This trio of hot sauces is flavored with spices like amchoor powder, turmeric, and kashmiri mirch, with packaging that eschews “XXX Death Pepper Will Kill You Dead Right Now” branding. Truly these are elegant sauces, and they pair with just about every cuisine. Right now, I’m eating the Hara Bhara sauce with rice and tinned fish nearly every day. Give the gift of spicy experimentation.
Granola that’s a perfect 10
For when you want to level up from the barrel of three types of popcorn (not that there’s anything wrong with that barrel), Tom’s has you covered. This tin is filled with three flavors of gourmet granola — golden apple cider, black and white matcha, and mangonada — that will hit your friends’ sweet, spicy, and savory cravings all at once. Make sure whoever is getting it opens it first, so you have a greater chance of everyone being able to snack on its contents all day long.
A grown-up advent calendar
The platonic ideal of jams. The reason for the season. The Bonne Maman advent calendar is a classic, classy pre-holiday gift that includes both traditional flavors and limited editions made specifically for the holiday. This year that includes chestnut and spiced orange, pear with cocoa nibs, and strawberry with star anise that, sorry, you cannot open up and sneak out of the box and replace with another, lesser jam. So maybe you should just buy one of these for yourself too, while you’re at it.