Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Top Gifts for Food Lovers

Hello everyone! This year, I've decided to share with you some awesome holiday gift items that I have seen at media events throughout the year. I'm very excited to kick off my new 2013 Holiday Gift Guide series! Over the next few days/weeks, I'll be posting themed gift guides with my top picks to hopefully make it easy for you guys to find the perfect gift for your friends and family.

What better thing to gift to foodies than food, right? Below are some fun and delicious choices to give to the food lover in your life this holiday.

HelloFresh is a weekly subscription service that delivers fresh, high-quality, pre-measured ingredients right to your doorstep so that you can prepare easy gourmet meals right at home. Each HelloFresh box includes recipes with step-by-step photo instructions that take 30 minutes from start to finish. There are two different HelloFresh boxes to choose from: Classic and Vegetarian. Each week, Classic Box customers can choose three different meals from a selection of five. The Vegetarian Box customers get three different meals each week. You can also choose whether you're cooking for two people or four people. For a 2-person Classic Box, the cost is $69 per week. Shipping is always free.

HelloFresh doesn't have boxes for specific dietary requirements, such as gluten-free, but all the ingredients are packaged individually, so if you don't want to use something or you want to substitute something, it's very easy to do so. You can find more information on the HelloFresh FAQ page.

Just Baked
2. Just Baked
You don't have to live in Michigan in order to enjoy the delicious cupcakes from Just Baked. Now Just Baked delivers all over the U.S.! If you've got a cupcake lover in your family, you can now send them a dozen Just Baked cupcakes anywhere in the U.S. (except Alaska and Hawaii) for $50-$60 via UPS. There are more than 50 creative flavors to choose from, including Black Forest Cheesecake, Grumpy Cake, Fat Elvis, Snowball, S'more, Salted Caramel, and seasonal flavors such as Apple Cider, Egg Nog, Pumpkin Pie, and Sweet Potato Pie. Yum!

I got the chance to sample one of these cupcakes at a holiday press preview this summer, and it was really yummy! I tried to visit a Just Baked shop in Michigan, but I got to the store too late! These cupcakes are super popular, and if you don't get to the store early during operating hours, there won't be many cupcakes left for you to buy!

Cookies by Shar
3. Cookies by Shar
Around the holidays, cookies make the perfect gift. With Cookies by Shar, you don't have to do any of the baking, but you still get to gift delicious decorated cookies.

Based in Florida, Cookies by Shar has local locations but you can also order online and ship cookies via FedEx anywhere within the U.S. There are special holiday cookie collections that you can choose from, including snowmen cookies, gingerbread men cookies, Christmas trees, candy canes, and reindeer. Each collection includes 12 cookies and is $65 and comes packaged in a gift box. I was able to sample the gingerbread cookies and all I can say is OH YEAH. The cookies were so soft and perfectly spiced. And the sugar sprinkles and frosting make these really cute!

4. Hatchery
Hatchery is another food subscription service. Each month, your foodie will receive a tasting box that includes artisan ingredients from small producers across the country. A box of five to six sample-size spreads, condiments, jams, honeys, syrups, oils, vinegars, salts, spices, seasonings, and/or specialty baking ingredients arrive at your doorstep for just $20 a month. And if you like what you're sampling, you can buy full-size versions of these products through Hatchery's online marketplace. Right now, there is a two-week wait to start a subscription. I received a free three-month subscription so I could try out Hatchery, and I redeemed that code on October 17 but still haven't received any information about setting up my subscription. So, if you're interested in giving a Hatchery gift subscription, you might want to get started now so that your recipient will have it by Christmas.

5. You're the Chef Cookbooks
You're the Chef Dandy Desserts
What if your foodie is a kid? He or she might like one (or more) of the You're the Chef cookbooks from Millbrook Press, a division of Lerner Publishing Group. These cute kid-friendly cookbooks come in a variety of titles: Dandy Desserts, Terrific Veggies on the Side, Awesome Snacks and Appetizers, Meaty Main Dishes, and more. I love that these cookbooks are totally geared toward kids ages 8-11. Of course, adult supervision and participation is required. These cookbooks give kids the basics: what different terms mean, how to measure solids and liquids, how to prep your work space, and most importantly, DON'T FORGET TO CLEAN UP! I love that. Kids will love that these are recipes easy enough for them to make (with some adult help), and they'll really have a sense of satisfaction knowing that they made what they're eating. This is a fun way to introduce kids to cooking.

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