2016 Holiday Gift Guide
Well if you’re anything like me, you’re not ready for the holidays even though they are coming at breakneck speed. So while this may seem early, I put together a holiday gift guide, I hope it’ll be useful for you. I know it will help me ease into the holiday season!
I’ve put together 3 lists:
- Aspiring Cooks/Bakers– Items for the beginning cook/baker in your life or someone stocking a new kitchen.
- Experienced Cook– Items for someone that wants to up their “kitchen game”.
- Cocktail Enthusiast– This list for that person in your life always making new cocktails or that wants to build their home bar.
I’ve also come up with categories so you know the price level for each:
- Coworker- up to $15
- Friend- $10-$30
- Best Friend- $25-$50
- Family Member- $40-$75
- Significant Other- $75+
These are obviously just suggestions. If you hate your family, maybe you wouldn’t spend $40 but you get the idea. 😉
So here’s the guide!
This one may seem obvious, but even if you know the person you’re buying has one set, get them another. It’s easy to go through 2 teaspoons, or 2 cups even in one recipe if you’re measuring out wet and dry ingredients. In our household, the rule is you can never have too many measuring spoons and cups. As evidence of this, here are all the measuring spoons we have.
I particularly like these spoons (even though they’re a bit spendy) because they include a 1/8 teaspoon and are easy to get into spice jars. I sometimes wonder how it’s the 21st century and spice companies still haven’t figured out how to make jars that more easily accommodate most measuring spoons (am I the only one that gets annoyed by this?).
Friend: Rubber Spatulas– at least one small and one large
Rubber spatulas have so many great purposes! The small ones are great for scooping stuff out of cans. The large ones are the perfect tool for scraping down the sides of the bowl when making a cake/cookie/baked good batter. These are another staple in our house. I keep a whole jar of them on the counter top. 🙂
Best friend: Meat Thermometer
As I’ve mentioned before, a meat thermometer is really the best way to tell if your chicken, steak, pork etc. is done. I recommend a digital thermometer because they are easy to read and often get the temperature quicker. The price range on meat thermometers is vast but you don’t need anything fancy. We have one similar to this one which does what it needs to do. A meat thermometer is a tool that really helps all cooks who work with meat because you can find out if a piece is done without cutting into it (There’s nothing worse than cutting into a nice steak when it’s cooking and all the juices spill out). 🙁 This is especially true for chicken. Because it has to be completely done to be eaten safely, this is the meat that makes most new cooks nervous. A meat thermometer takes away some of that fear!
Family member: Pie Dish
You know by now that I have a particular fondness for one of the pie dishes we have. However, we actually have several and make use of them all! We have this Pyrex one, which I like to use for cooking things like roasted chicken breast, sausage links, or to make French toast. Then I have this fancy Emile Henry one for pies I’m going to be serving to company. It’s sturdy, but also looks nice.
Significant other: America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook
Honestly, I recommend this for all levels. Our friend Andy gave it to us last Christmas and it is by far our favorite cookbook. It’s great because each recipe has been thoroughly tested so you know it’s the best method. It’s also a wonderful book for the sheer volume and variety of recipes that are included. It has traditional favorites like chocolate cake and meatloaf. It also has a ton of reference info. There’s even a section in the book that includes products America’s Test Kitchen recommends! You’re looking to by a nonstick skillet you say! Well just check out this handy dandy cookbook and you’ll know which one to buy! It’s neat because this cookbook just sort of becomes everything you need. If you’re a new cook and want to learn how to cook some basics, they are in in this book. However, if you are more advanced there are things in it to keep you challenged. If you own only one cookbook, this should be the one.
Coworker: Jar Labels or a Stamp
If you know someone that is experienced in the kitchen, chances are good that they make canned things like jam and would love to label them. Labels are also great for handmade gifts. As someone that likes to give handmade gifts, having cute labels on hand to put on them is especially useful. My friend Emily gave me a stamp I can use directly on the jars or to make my own labels which is great!
Friend: A Nice Notebook
This might seem like a strange idea, but a nice notebook can be invaluable in the kitchen, especially as you cook more and start to tinker and experiment. I use one all the time when I’m creating a recipe and it’s nice to make notes to myself for the next time I try a recipe before it’s perfected.
Best friend: Cast Iron Skillet
My husband and I got this Lodge brand skillet for our wedding and have been using it more and more. Cast iron skillets are great because they are durable, only get better with time (most people have them for a lifetime and even pass them down to future generations!), and can go straight from the stovetop to the oven. Since they are so heavy, they also hold heat really well, so they are great for searing a steak, making hamburgers, frying chicken or even to bake cornbread in. I also like using ours to make pancakes because they get a slightly crunchy exterior. We now even have the smaller size!
Family member: A Cooking Class
I have taken several cooking classes over the years at the local Sur la Table and have learned so much! You could pay for a class to take on their own or as a fun thing to do together. I’ve taken a class with my mom and another one with my husband. The one with my mom was cooking specialties of several local restaurants and the one with my husband was actually a knife class. The skills I learned (how to properly hold a knife, caring for knives, etc.) in it are ones I’ll have all my life! I mention Sur La Table because it is a national chain kitchen store, but I’m sure there are tons of great local options out there too! Try asking at your local kitchen shop, butcher or grocery store and you are bound to get some great suggestions.
Significant Other: KitchenAid Mixer
Ok before you scream at me when you look at the price of this thing, hear me out. For one, maybe this a “from a group” gift and several of you pitch in. This is another example of something a person can really “grow into” as their skills in the kitchen improve. Not only is this a great mixer, but there are all kinds of attachments that can be purchased down the road (ice cream bowl I’m looking at you!). My parents gave me mine (in lavender!) back in 2003 when I was living on my own for the first time and it has served me well all that time! I love that I can turn it on to whip cream or something and walk away (look ma, no hands!). I also love how durable it is. I’ve been with this mixer longer than my husband, through 2 moves and 100s of baked goods.
Coworker: Fun Garnishes
These days it’s easy to find tasty cherries, blue cheese-stuffed olives or other fun garnishes for drinks. You could also look for some nice bitters. I am seeing more and more flavors of these around and they would make the perfect inexpensive gift for that drink enthusiast you know at the office. Here is just an example of a different version of bitters that would be fun to try.
You are likely to find all kinds of options in this category at your local kitchen shop, a store like Cost Plus or even the grocery store.
Friend: Bar Tools
Like any hobby or interest, cocktails come with all kinds of accessories. This includes tools. Cocktail jiggers are a must in a home bar for measuring out spirits. We have a handled one like this, but one of these is fine too. Another must for a home bar is a shaker. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but someone that is starting their home bar will need one. There are other tools that are useful like a muddler, bar spoon or zester. Another option would be to spring for a whole kit (something like this) if you know someone that doesn’t have any of these tools.
Best friend: Novelty Bottle Opener
I am often amazed at the variety in bottle openers out there. There’s one for every interest. Have a friend that’s interested in beers and Star Trek? Yep there’s a bottle opener for that. The possibilities are endless. It may seem a little kitschy, but if you find one that really looks nice and it actually functional I promise it will be a hit.
Family member: Glassware
The right glassware can really make a drink. The price range can also be pretty vast on glassware. I put this in the family member category because the high end of the price range for glassware can be in the hundreds of dollars. No matter the price, glassware can be a great gift for anyone. I have found sturdy and pretty glasses at Goodwill, Cost Plus/World Market, Crate & Barrel and Target just to name a few. If you want to get someone a set of a particular kind of glass (hurricane glasses, for instance) a restaurant supply store or Business Costco is a good option. They may not be fine crystal but they’re likely to last.
Significant Other: Locally Made Spirit
This is another item that can have a broad price range. I put it under the significant other, though, because I feel like that’s the person whose taste in spirits you know best. We have a lot of great distilleries here in Washington and I bet your neck of the woods does too. A lot of grocery (or liquor) stores have a local-focused section. If there’s a bar you regularly go to, the bartender there could also provide some suggestions. If it’s a small enough distiller, you could even set up a tour to see how it is made!
Well, there’s my holiday gift guide for this year. I hope you’ve found it useful.
What are some of your go tos for gift giving? What’s the best kitchen-related gift you’ve ever received?
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