If you’ve tried to order anything in, I don’t know, the past 18 months, you’ve learned quickly that shipping times, especially for anything complicated or unique, can be long and unpredictable. When it comes time for holiday gift buying, try ordering delicious, locally crafted items that your friends and loved ones won’t use until next year — that way, you don’t have to worry about whether anything ships on time, and you’ll be supporting a small business at the same time. It might seem like sacrilege to get a gift that doesn’t result in a huge box showing up under the tree, but trust me — the recipients won’t care once they start eating and drinking.
Put all the stereotypes about farm shares out of your mind — it’s no longer about standing in line at a drop off to get a giant box of cabbage and having to figure out what the heck to do with it. During the height of COVID, local farms got a huge infusion of new customers and cash, and the smart ones used it to modernize their operations. These days, farm shares have gone high tech. For example, Tomato Mountain delivers, allows customers to choose what goes in each box (if you hate sweet potatoes, ditch them!), and lets you add anything you want to make your grocery shopping easier, like a weekly egg delivery. Sign a friend up and pay for a month as an awesome, unique gift; they’ll probably want to keep going on their own.
Restaurant Gift Cards
It might sound obvious, but for some reason I always forget — pretty much every restaurant in town has gift cards, and they are right at the front counter! Buy your friend a super nice dinner, paid for in advance, and they’ll definitely be thinking of you in the new year. If you know their favorite restaurant, go with that, but otherwise, I suggest buying a gift card to one of the local restaurant groups to allow for some flexibility (think Boka, One Off Hospitality, or Lettuce Entertain You). Plus, some restaurants and groups are offering special bonuses so you can get a little more from your dollar.
Cooking classes are always one of those things that I think will be kind of lame until I actually attend one, and then I inevitably love them. They are also a great opportunity to set up a memorable experience with a friend or loved one, rather than just giving them more stuff. The classic and most practical is the amazing knife skills class at The Chopping Block, but if you want to try something different, book an Indian or Thai cooking class with Naveen’s Cuisine or go all out and buy a French cooking class for eight at Cook Au Vin.
I love a gift that keeps on giving — and once again, one that means someone doesn’t have to worry about buying something on their list if supply chains get tight next spring. Luckily, there’s a great subscription for every taste. Virtue Cider just launched Cider Society, a quarterly subscription club that includes four bottles of unique, hard-to-get cider plus a special gift with each delivery. Underground Meats, which is my current favorite charcuterie maker, offers their “Buy Curious” salumi of the month club, with three and six month options. And if you’re in the mood for something boozier, Lost Lake is offering both cocktail of the month and rum of the month clubs.