It’s time to start getting those gift lists into shape! I confess to this being one of my favorite parts of the holiday season: thinking of all of the people I’d like to bring or send a little package to, mulling over what the right present should be. This year, perhaps more than any other year, it feels very pleasurable to treat all of your people to something thoughtful and cheery, and it doesn’t have to break the bank.
If you’re looking for a great jumping off point to find the perfect-little-something gift for everyone on your list, there’s no better place to start than with food and the kitchen. A treat that recognizes a friend’s sweet tooth, an ingredient that inspires a budding chef, a kitchen utensil find to brighten their cooking.
All of the below gift ideas are $30 or less, so you can bring that holiday joy to everyone on your list, from the science teacher who went above and beyond last year, the neighbor who shared her flour with you when the going got tough, the niece who’s just getting into cooking. And many of the items have notably beautiful packaging, so in some cases you might just need to add a little card, and skip the wrapping – a holiday bonus for the gift giver as well!
Under $30 Stocking Stuffers for Foodies
1. Maple Syrup
Vermont based Runamok makes infused organic maple syrups that not only beg to be drizzled over pancakes and waffles this winter, but can also be incorporated into recipes and cocktails. The flavors are unusual and enticing: choose from varieties like Banana Rum, WhistlePig Rye, Coffee, and Hibiscus. Note that some of their limited edition syrups sell out fast. There is even a maple syrup with edible sparkles (dazzle those kids!). The lovely bottles sell for about $18.
2. Chocolate Bar
Can you ever go wrong with a top-of-the-line chocolate bar? That was clearly a trick question. There is a dazzling array of beautifully packaged, high quality, fair trade chocolates available. Choose from classic chocolate bars with varying levels of pure cacao, chocolate with creative add-ins, chocolate from a particular place with personal meaning, or just the most eye-catching labels in the store.
Chocolove from Boulder, Colorado has dozens of choices, including Salted Almond Butter in Dark Chocolate and Pink Grapefruit in Ruby Chocolate. Chicago-based Vosges Haut Chocolat has their classic bars, and then also choices like Pink Salt Caramel and Turmeric Ginger. Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco makes single origin bars, like the ones from Camino Verde, Ecuador or Anamali, India.
More chocolate ideas: Enzo’s Table Chocolate Almond Butter (made with Guittard chocolate) is a perfect holiday treat as is Nocciolata, Italy’s sophisticated, organic hazelnut and cocoa spread (move over Nutella). Choose from milk or dark chocolate versions, or double down and pack up both.
3. A Bottle of Wine
Yes, gifting a bottle of wine might seem uninspired at first, but not if it comes from a winemaker or region that means something to the recipient. For instance, Sonoma Cutrer in the Russian River Valley is led by an all-female winemaking team (from vineyards, to cellars and lab) and produces sustainable certified wines.
Or think about supporting Black-Owned wineries like the Guilty Grape (also woman-owned; $30 for their Cabernet Sauvignon), or the burgeoning natural and eco-friendly wine industry. Pick a wine that geographically connects with the receiver, like a bottle of Cabernet Franc from Bulgaria to remind them of a favorite place on their travel bucket list. Other inexpensive gifts for the oenophiles in your life: wine coasters, a pair of vintage wine glasses, a wine cooler sleeve, and a wine bottle stopper.
4. Mulling Spices
How about a small bottle or tin filled with mulling spices, perhaps paired with a jug of cider, or some chunky glass mugs? This economical gift lands big in terms of seasonal cheer – pour the cider into a pot, add the spices, and in 15 minutes the kitchen will smell like the height of the holidays. Melissa’s makes a great mulled spice blend, made with cloves, cinnamon, and orange peel, available in supermarkets and online.
5. Measuring Cups and Spoons
A cute new set of measuring cups and spoons is a great stocking stuffer, especially for the bakers in your life. Sustainability-focused Bamboozle makes durable colorful products made from natural bamboo fiber in your choice of three pretty, muted colorways. $28 for the cups and spoon together.
6. Spices and Spice Blends
Gift a few tins of hand-picked spices or spice blends for the experimental cook. The world of spices has come a long way in recent years, with much more attention to origin, process, freshness, authenticity.
James Beard Award winning chef Meherwan Irani founded Spicewalla with an eye towards bringing his experiences with buying and using spices in India to a broader market. There are 100 herbs and spices plus 30 house-made blends to date available, and the tins are brilliantly designed. The Masala collection includes garam masala, tandoori masala, and Madras curry powder.
Or pick up a few tins of individual herbs and spices like fenugreek, sumac, or smoked paprika from Spicewalla. Penzey’s and Burlap and Barrel are two other brands to look for, both in terms of quality and attractive packaging.
7. Eco-Friendly Bowl and Dish Covers
For the eco-friendly cook in your life, a little collection of Halo dish covers would be very well received. These reusable, washable and adjustable bowl and dish covers will reduce the use of plastic wrap and add some cuteness to your leftovers. Or perhaps a reusable extendable straw set, complete with cleaner and carrying case, from OXO.
8. Cloth Napkins
Help a pal elevate her tabletop by gifting a small stack of cloth napkins, like these linen ones from Williams Sonoma. Pick a color that will click with the recipient, stack them, roll them, and tie them with a pretty ribbon.
The perfect little thinking-of-you-food-gift is makes it pretty easy to a thoughtful gift giver. Remember to keep your eyes open, as you might find just what you need anywhere from on online store to a supermarket to a kitchenware store. You’ll know it when you see it!