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7 Very Un-Basic Gifts to Give This Year

Handmade mugs, far-flung spice blends, food-themed artwork, and more

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For some, holiday gift shopping is a task best handled expediently — these are the people for whom gift cards were created. For others, holiday shopping is pleasant enough, if you can get it all done in time. This gift guide isn’t for those people. It’s for the ones who see gifting as a reflection of their own exquisite taste. You want to give something unique, something that makes the recipient say “oooh,” demand to know where you got it, then show it off to everyone else at the party. A gift card? Perish the thought.

Ahead are 11 gifts that are sure to impress the most discerning gifters and giftees, from cool mugs handmade in Japan, addictive spice blends, candles made to remind you of home, and a small-batch bourbon straight from heaven.

By Japan Block Set of Four Porcelain Mugs

There’s something pleasing about these squat, blocky porcelain mugs. Maybe it’s the cheery mustard yellow, or their just-right heft in the hand, or the way they’re both vintage-y and modern at the same time. At any rate, this set of Japanese-made mugs is sure to brighten many mornings to come.

HAY Suede Oven Glove

Ever known a cook who owns fancy German knives, a top-of-the-line rice cooker, and a sous vide they only use once a year — yet still pulls pans out of the oven with the frayed oven mitt from their first apartment? Change all that with Danish design group HAY’s striking green suede glove. It’s as stylish as they deserve.


Because you’d never give just any bottle for the holidays, try this premium Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. It’s handcrafted in small batches (just 8 to 12 barrels at a time), then aged to perfection, and finished in hand-selected port wine casks that impart smoothness and toasty flavor notes of rich vanilla, ripe fruit, bitter chocolate and maple syrup.

MAMO Hour Glass Cocktail Glasses

Dip a toe into the wacky-maximalist design thing that’s suddenly everywhere with MAMO’s multicolored cocktail glasses. The organic lines and space age styling make cocktail hour a little more impressive, and they’re practical, too. The smaller side measures two ounces of your favorite spirits, while the flip side holds a serving of wine.

Fly By Jing Triple Threat Sauce Trio

Sichuan cuisine is famously not for the weak of palate. If your giftee loves spice blends that don’t skimp on the heat, they’ll appreciate this sampler of Fly By Jing’s best-selling Sichuan Sauces. Zhong Sauce adds sweet, sour, and umami notes to its heat, Mala Spice Mix layers in 11 spices, and Sichuan Chili Crisp promises the kind of intense, mouth-numbing heat that true spice-lovers seek.

Farmsteady Foraging Tool Kit

Perhaps it never had a viral moment like baking sourdough or whipping up Dalgona coffee, but food lovers are increasingly discovering the joys of foraging — yes, mushrooms, but also wild garlic, elderflower, chestnuts, sweet fennel, pine nuts, and a host of other bounties. This kit will help you collect it all in style.

Jane Webster Chateau Life

This sumptuously photographed cookbook is an ode to French food and the French way of life. Its pages are full of advice on shopping local markets, setting an elegant table with vintage linens and colored glassware, and the soul-nourishing qualities of seasonal meals like the chicken and tarragon pie we’ll be making all winter. The kind of book that transports you, whether you cook from it or not.

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