My Top 5 Favorite Food Gifts To Give

Instead of buying something predictable like a scarf of gift card to some place, consider buying a food gift for the whole family (or even for one person).

Food is something that both kids and adults get excited about, and I’d like to share 5 of my favorite food gifts to give to folks:

Williams-Sonoma Chocolate Croissants

There is nothing like a freshly baked croissant, but unless you live in France, you probably don’t get to have fresh croissants very often. I first found out about these croissants by Galaxy Desserts (sold at Williams-Sonoma) from Oprah Winfrey–she had these on her “favorite things” list.

Watch this video to see how they’re made and what happens when they arrive at your house:

They come to you frozen, unbaked. The night before you want to eat them, you put them on a piece of parchment in a pan and let them sit on the counter to thaw overnight.

In the morning, voila–they’ll be fully risen, and you just need to put them in the oven. When it comes out of the oven, you have a perfect fresh croissant.

I have received these croissants as a gift and I’ve also given them as gifts–they are truly special. There are 15 in the box, so depending on how many people you share them with in your household, you can enjoy them over a long period of time.

Hotel Chocolat

That’s a great name for a chocolate company (or a hotel), isn’t it? They started as a UK business and have expanded to the US (the link above is to their US website). They have all sorts of exotic and handmade chocolate, perfect for the chocolate lover on your wish list. Their chocolates are made without preservatives, so there is an expiration date within a few months, but most households don’t have any problems finishing off chocolate.

I have given this as gift and also received it as a gift as well. The packaging is gorgeous and will make your gift recipient feel really special.

Harry & David

This one is an oldie but a goodie. Who would imagine that eating a pear would be decadent? The absolute “must buy” from this place is the Royal Riviera pears, which are so delectable and juicy you’ll want to eat them with a spoon. If you have any fruit lovers on your gift list, they would love some pears from Harry & David. They also sell all sorts of other food gifts.

Edible Arrangements

When you see a delivery person on your front doorstep holding an Edible Arrangement, you will catch your breath! I never thought I would get excited over fruit, but this is so artfully arranged that it makes you want to eat it!

I had several kids over at my house one time and we had an edible arrangement on the counter. I actually heard young boys going to their mother and asking “Mom, can I have some more fruit?”

I think their mother almost fainted.

Gourmet Coffee by Fullcupflavor

I know very few people unable to enjoy a cup of rich taste coffee. Many do not imagine a morning without a cup of fresh coffee. Preparing it using freshly roasted coffee beans (roasted less than 24 hours prior to mailing) is a special delight to coffee lovers. Remember those old fashioned coffee grinning machines and open-fire coffee pots? Full Cup Flavor offers a never-loosing gift idea for most of your friends and relatives as well as for someone you may hardly know.

One thing to remember–if you’re sending a food gift, be sure to contact the person you’re giving it to and confirm that they will be in town (and at home) when the delivery will be made.

Organizing Your Christmas Gift Buying

Christmas shopping season is upon us, and I know that many people absolutely dread this time of year simply because they feel overwhelmed by the prospect of buying a lot of gifts in a short span of time and on a deadline.

I know exactly how you feel–I love buying gifts for people, but there’s something about the Christmas season that is particularly strenuous even for the most avid gift buyer.

Actually, not only do I buy gifts for people on behalf of myself but I also buy gifts on behalf of others. You know that job title “personal shopper”–I would love to do that full time for a living!

Here’s how I organize buying gifts for a lot of different people with the least amount of stress possible:

1 – Set up spreadsheet

You can do this in Google Docs or Excel. Here’s how mine looks:

I like the spreadsheet because it reduces a lot of stress–you don’t have to wonder, “Now, what did I get for Gina?” or “Am I forgetting anybody?”

You know what you gave, how much you spent, when you ordered it, and when you received it.

2 – Email folks asking them for Amazon wish lists or gift suggestions.

The Amazon Wish List is amazingly helpful if you can get the people on your list to create one. They just need an Amazon account, and then they go to “Wish List”, usually found in the upper right hand corner on Amazon.com

The people on your list don’t have to choose items at Amazon–they can put items from any website on their Amazon.com wishlist.

Then, all they need to do is give you the link to the wish list they’ve created for themselves, and you don’t have to even think of what to give them–they’ve already done the thinking for you!

3 – Shop online.

Probably the biggest hassle with Christmas shopping is dealing with the crowds. There’s an easy way to get around that–just shop online. Most major stores have online shopping. You can place your order any time of the day or night, and it’s delivered to your house. It couldn’t be easier!

4 – Be decisive.

When I try to help people with their Christmas shopping, one common source of stress is the fear of “not knowing what to get” and not giving a good gift. It seems like the pressure of coming up with a “good gift” creates a lot of stress in some people.

My strategy is this:

  • First, ask people to provide specific gift suggestions.
  • If they don’t give that info, then I try to think of something general that they would like, such as a gift card to a sporting goods store, a clothing store, or a restaurant. If the person likes to read, a Barnes & Noble gift card is always appreciated.
  • Make the decision and stick with it–don’t buy something and then second guess yourself and consider returning it. Just get a gift receipt (if it’s something other than a gift card), and the recipient can return it if he or she likes.
  • Realize that there is no perfect gift. You could spend hours trying to find “the perfect gift”, and the person you’re giving it to may end up returning it anyway. Even if they keep it, how long witll they remember that individual gift? Most of us can’t remember every gift we received last year–we just remember that a particular person gave us something. It’s truly the thought that counts.

So, don’t feel under a lot of pressure–the idea is to get a thoughtful gift that is within your price range that the person will most likely enjoy. You can discreetly provide a gift receipt in case they would prefer to exchange it for something else.

The important part is that you gave something–you could even make something and have it be really special. That you even thought to give the person a gift is what will make them feel warm and fuzzy inside, not the actual gift itself.

Christmas shopping can be fun if you keep things simple, lower your expectations for yourself, and communicate with the people you’re giving gifts to. The sooner you’re done shopping the better–then you can just relax and enjoy the really memorable parts of the Christmas season: spending time with your family, baking cookies, and whatever other family traditions you have.

Personalized Calendars: A Great Christmas Gift Idea

For the last two years I’ve created personalized calendars for close family members as a way of savoring some special moments we shared through the year.

This is one of my favorite Christmas gifts to give, and it’s really rewarding to see the person I gave the calendar to enjoying it throughout the year.

The first year I did this I took photos from a beach trip and made them into a calendar, using Shutterfly’s calendar creation tool.

This year I made my sister’s new baby the centerpoint of the calendar, since everyone in our family can’t get enough of baby Henry.

The calendars are cool, not only because of the big picture from your real life that goes along with each month, but also because each person’s birthday is indicated by a photo of the person’s face. That way, you can see at a glance who has a birthday in a particular month.

And, you can personalize the front cover of the calendar. Here’s what mine looks like:

In case you're wondering what this photo is of--it's his chubby baby hand and arm. Too cute!

At Shutterfly, there are various design templates you can choose from. I went very minimalist using the them called “Photo Gallery”, but there are lots of others that are very colorful and theme oriented.

You can even choose how many photos to have on one page and there are different layouts depending on how many photos you have on a particular page. You also have the option of including captions.

The best part about this is that making the calendar requires no creative or technical ability–it is all set up so that you just need to plug in your own photos.

It took me some time to create mine, but that’s because I have a lot of birthdays to put in, and I had a gazillion baby photos to go through to pick which ones to use in the calendar.

I decided to order 3 of them–one for my mother, one for my sister who had the baby, and then another for another sister. So, with the work I did on the calendar, I was able to “kill 3 birds with one stone” gift-wise, so to speak.

That’s not a bad deal–3 customized gifts that I know the recipients will enjoy, with one burst of work. You might want to consider that too, as buying multiples of the same calendar gets a discount.

Here’s the link to Shutterfly’s calendar creation page. You can choose from desk calendars, wall calendars, and calendar posters (one big image on a page with all the months). It’s nice to think that whatever work you put into it will pay off throughout the year.