As I type this little novel to you, I’m giggling at its length. Gosh, I’ve got lots to say. I’ll be traveling for two whole weeks and though I’ll post images on Instagram, I won’t be writing too many blog posts from abroad. I guess I’m trying to fit in all the words until I return with probably too many images of Ireland. (I’m also trying to share more images of my HP Sprout because thanks to them, I can share loads of creative ideas for food gifting.)
Just so we’re clear, I am so excited for my dream trip to the emerald isle. We have family and friends over there, and some friends flying in from mainland Europe, too. We haven’t seen some of these folks in years, YEARS, which seems to justify a little food gift or two. (Naturally, I’m thinking about items that will persevere after a long flight, like homemade candy, a jam from my food gift pantry, chocolate, protein bars, and maybe a little whiskey from duty-free.)
All this food-gift planning has got me thinking about food gifts in general. If you read my first post on why Food is a Gift (Part 1), then you know more about why I gift food. In that post, I promised to return with some actionable ways to treat food like the gift that it is.
With that said, I’m back today with three important-to-me statements that I’ve wanted to share for a while, advice that I hope will make you way more confident about giving food gifts, anytime. I’ve also sprinkled some tips and recipes throughout, because, you love recipes and I love to share recipes and… goodness, don’t we make a good team?! Okay, let’s go…
1. Food is rarely an inappropriate gift.
Food gifts transcend every possible gift-giving situation. Whether you’re celebrating a 30th birthday or attending a Memorial Day picnic, you really can’t go wrong by gifting food, of all types. The birthday girl needs a little tipple like Blackberry Bourbon, and the picnic host needs a pile of Miso-Glazed Eggplant for her guests and perhaps a tray of these Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting for later, when everyone leaves.
Every holiday deserves a food gift. Here are just a few food gift recipe suggestions for regular holidays:
- Valentine’s Day: Homemade Kit Kat Bars or Homemade Sriracha
- St. Patrick’s Day: Milk Stout & Sea-Salt Caramels or Homemade Baileys
- Mother’s Day: Rose Petal Jam or Salted Caramel Sauce
- Memorial Day: Strawberry and Rhubarb Pate de Fruit
- Father’s Day: Bourbon Bacon Jam or German Style Pretzels
- Independence Day: Ice Cream Sandwiches or Cinnamon Bun Popcorn
- Labor Day: Tomato Basil Jam or Basilcello
- Halloween: Homemade Gummy Bears or Mini Pumpkin Pies
- Thanksgiving: Mini Brie and Jam Pies or Red Wine Chocolate Truffles
- Christmas Day: Cranberry Swirl Bread or Homemade Chocolate Bars
- New Year’s Day: Nougat Blanc with Almonds and Pistachios or Blood Orange, Prosecco & Thyme Sorbet
Certainly, there may be places or moments that are less perfect for the actual hand-off of a food gift. For example, let’s say that you’re meeting Queen Elizabeth for the very first time (as you will), offering your official congrats on the new little princess or just attending her very first state dinner to celebrate your visit. Giving her a big box of homemade sweets in the middle of your royal moment may not go over so well, but sending her a loaf of Raspberry Swirl Brioche after the fact may be loved even more in private, when she doesn’t have to worry about ruining her gown or sharing a single slice.
Just to be clear, moments that are typically not so great for food gift hand-offs include being in a restaurant, or at a big ball-gown style affair, or at an actual graduation or wedding (the bridal shower is just fine!) If you ever wonder, just ask yourself:
- Would I want to carry this delicious food gift around during the event?
- Will I have a place to store it?
- Does it need to be refrigerated immediately and is there a fridge available?
The answer, for the most part, shows itself quite clearly.
2. All foods are potential food gifts.
Food gifts are not just cookies, cakes, jams and jellies. With a tag and a note, any kind of foodstuffs is a gift. I may not opt to gift scrambled eggs but I would most certainly give a dozen great eggs, especially if they’re from a local farm. Here are a bunch of foods you may not have thought of gifting, but maybe you should:
- Almond Milk: It makes the best breakfast smoothies and is a treat for those who avoid dairy.
- Goat Cheese: Everyone loves to spread a bit on toast.
- Harissa: Spices of all varieties make great food gifts, but spice mixes are a special sort for a great home cook.
- Chicken Stock: This stuff never, ever goes to waste – and it’s one of the most popular recipes on Eat Boutique!
- Tarragon Oil: Oils are such a nice finish to fancy up dishes or let the home cook experiment with flavor combinations.
- No-Recipe Curry: Bring me a pot of curry for meals for the week, and we’ll be fast friends.
- Carrot Noodles: Make a big batch for a party or just pack up little containers for a friend who needs some easy lunches.
- DIY Instant Noodles: Speaking of easy lunches, this is it.
- Salad Rolls: Anything can be rolled up into cute little packages – protein, veggies, herbs.
- Bowtie Pumpkin Pasta: Dry a pile of this pasta and gift it with sauce and a baguette.
- Everything Bagel Cheez-Its: For Mom, for Dad, for kids, for anyone.
- Rosemary Chicken Lasagne: Yes, please. Tied with a bow, you’ll give them dinner and love.
- Sweet Potato Gnocchi: Another one of the most popular recipes on Eat Boutique.
Wouldn’t you love to receive any and all of these delicious recipes? Yep, me too. The lesson is that almost anything is a potential food gift. Make it, wrap it up and prepare for all the smiles.
3. There are no perfect food gifts, just pure intentions.
We use the word “perfect” quite liberally in the food world. I bet every food blog and food magazine has used the word about a thousand times, sometimes in one issue!
“This sauce is the perfect accompaniment to…”
“These caramels are the perfect gift for…”
“This salad is perfect with…”
“These croissants are perfect as a second breakfast…”
Seriously, it’s annoying. And I’m part of the “perfect” group, throwing that word around about as often as I do “Paris” or even the word “love”. But I do think the more we use it, the more it loses its meaning and, gosh, it should. There is no perfection in food.
Unless you’re some fancy restaurant chef, food is messy, homemade, splattered, unevenly cooked, unevenly seasoned, extra spicy, too crisp or too limp, sometimes charred or even burnt. There is no such thing as perfect food gifts. Whatever manifests from your two hands is perfect enough. The care to craft, the love for the recipient, the time away from everything else to make this one special food gift: all of this forms intentions, the purest intentions, and whatever comes from those intentions is magic. It may be uneven or even a little messy, but it’s pure, so just go with those intentions more often, okay?
And if you simply can’t cook or don’t want to cook, I’ve got a little shop to help with that.
I’m gonna get on a jet plane, and take lots of photos, and plan to update you in a couple weeks on everything. Thanks for reading and get ready for the launch of some amazing French-style content in a few weeks, in advance of our big site redesign, which I can’t wait to tell you all about… See you soon!
Photos taken and styled by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio.
Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers and shares our version of #foodgiftlove. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in the Eat Boutique Shop.
Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic Studio. Follow Maggie Battista on Instagram.