Watch Cooking Channel

The Gift of Giving

This post was going to be your run-of-the-mill gift guide.  All week, I’d been thinking of things you could get your food-iac friends and family.

And then, I sat down to write it.  I started and erased it three times.

Why was I having such a hard time writing such a simple post?

It might have something to do with a video I watched the other day of people waiting to get into a Victoria’s Secret once it opened on Black Friday.  The crowd brayed and yelled, pushing and elbowing their neighbours even though there was nowhere to go. Their nostrils flared, their eyes wide with a combination of fear and delight; it looked like a mosh pit, or dare I say it: a herd of cattle.  But that wasn’t what got me.

It was the look on the employees’ faces.

They were scared.  And I think it is no exaggeration to say that I think they were actually scared for their lives, because once the doors opened, they knew that flood of people would knock them over, stomp on them, hurt them, yell at them — all in the name of saving a few dollars for a present for someone they ostensibly really care about.

Have we possibly gotten away from the importance of this season, y’all?

We hear it every year, but I hope that I really get it this year.  This season is not about getting or giving more stuff.  This season commemorates a gift given to us, one of life and light in an otherwise dark world.  This season is about sharing that light with others, both those we love and those we don’t even know. It’s about counting our blessings, and celebrating in hope for the ones we pray for next year. And at a time of year where many of us have family to gather with and plenty of privileges, it’s a time to extend ourselves to those who have little to nothing or no one, because I imagine this is the time of year that the sense of lack hurts most.

“Ok little Miss Kill-Joy.  Does that mean we’re not exchanging presents this year?”

HECK NO!  I love me a present!  But I suppose I’m challenging us to go deeper with our gift-giving this year. Let’s actually observe what our friends and family truly need, and give in that direction. Someone told me about a gift a father gave his son: a pound of great coffee with a note attached: “This coffee only to be consumed when the two of us get together.”  Isn’t that great?  So in that spirit, here are some food-based gift ideas that might get us all thinking of giving in a different way this year, in a way that really embraces what this season is all about.

1) Service Gift Certificates

These are the sweetest of all.  Think of something you can do for a family member or a friend, and make gift certificates with these “services”: a scratch card with 5 coffee dates (you’re buying), breakfast in bed, a home-cooked meal, an offer to come take care of them when they next get sick.  Other ideas: mani-pedi dates, a foot rub at the end of a long day, or a written promise to do that one thing your friend has been asking you to do forever (go to that one museum/show/store), washing someone’s car, doing their laundry, babysitting their kids so they can go out for dinner with their significant other, organizing their kitchen if they’re awful at organizing (um, are my friends listening?!).  You can even make your certificates look really beautiful like these guys (pictured above) did!

Think about your loved ones for a spell, and I bet you’ll be able to come up with some really beautiful ideas that will not only be of service to your loved ones, but will touch them deeply when they realize that you’ve actually been listening to them.

2) Further Candles

I love these guys.  They collect used grease from restaurants such as Mario Batali & Nancy Silverton’s Mozza, refine it, use some of it as bio-diesel and turn the rest of it into a sublimely-fragranced line of candles and dish soap.  I can’t get enough of the fragrance; to me, it smells like a walk in the woods with a freshly showered man.  But that’s just me.  I’d like to give this to a friend who is always strapped for time with a note that says, “whenever you light this candle, please take three deep breaths before proceeding with the rest of your day, and know that I’m thinking about you.”

3) Kusmi Tea

My favorite teas on the planet are made by a French company called Kusmi.  This is how good they are: I dislike green tea with a passion. Their green tea? I will happily brew a whole pot and drink the lot. Their teas are delicately flavored, with a refined finish that makes each cup special. Even the tea bags themselves are beautiful, and it always seems like a shame to throw them away.  The tins are gorgeous, and bonus: your friend can use them to house something else once she’s supped all that good tea. My favorite is one called Sweet Love, a spicy concoction of black tea with licorice root, pink peppercorns and some other spices.  I’d pair the tea with a couple of pretty mugs, perhaps one with your initial, and one with hers (available here), with a promise to come over for a cup of tea once a month or whenever she needs it.

4) Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

Bloggers and food writers seemingly everywhere are gushing about this cookbook, and I have to concur.  Every recipe is literally mouthwatering, and easy.  Heck, you don’t even have to make anything; you can just drool over the gorgeous photographs!  In any case, I would attach a note offering to cook through the book over the course of the year; you could even go through and tag those recipes that appeal to you, and write a sample menu for your first dinner together.

5) Cooking Classes

Whether it’s learning how to make jam or how to cut great sashimi, what a great way to spend time with a friend, AND learn something new. A couple of my friends took a cooking class together a few years ago and they still talk about how much fun it was.  Just make sure that it’s a class where you actually get to cook, rather than an observational class.  These usually last a few hours, so you’re guaranteed to spend some quality time together and make lasting memories!

6) Giving in Their Name

I love when people do this for me!  Offer someone three different charity programs to choose from; you’ll give to one of them in their name.  One of my favorites this year: Oxfam’s “Unwrapped” Campaign (full disclosure: I do represent Oxfam from time to time). You can buy needy families around the world anything from a vegetable garden, to a bee-rearing class, to even a cow!  It goes directly to them!  Isn’t that cool?  Heifer.org allows you to buy goats, llamas, even irrigation pumps on behalf of your friend. You could make a donation to a local food bank on behalf of your friend.  Another charity I work with here in LA, Harvest Home, will link you up with families they know who can’t afford to buy their children presents. You (and your friend) can help make this a holiday to remember!

See?  Isn’t this fun? Once you start thinking this way, you’ll find yourself coming up with lots of creative ways to show the ones you love how much you, well, love them. I’m not demonizing gift-giving or shopping for people at all. But no matter how much, or how little, money you have, the most valuable commodity we all have is time, and giving that to the people we love?  Those are the best presents (presence?) of all.

Aarti began cooking as a chubby kid, as soon as she realized that in order to satisfy her sweet tooth, she’d have to make dessert. It was only as an unemployed adult that she graduated to cooking other dinner courses, and once she did, she was hooked. Her blog, aartipaarti soon birthed a YouTube cooking-variety show of the same name, shot with her husband in her tiny Los Angeles apartment. After much coercing, she applied for season 6 of Food Network Star, was accepted, competed and won. She now hosts Aarti Party on Food Network, and appears on Cooking Channel’s Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping, Unique Eats and will host a new show, Taste in Translation, that debuts in January of 2013. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter (@aartipaarti) and Instagram, as well as her blog.

Tags:

Comments (3670)

  1. closing the sale posted 07/30/2013

    closing the sale…

    [...]the time to read or stop by the subject material or web pages we’ve linked to beneath the[...]…

  2. ESA Phone Number posted 07/30/2013

    Blogs ou should be reading…

    [...]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[...]……

  3. hair extensions toronto posted 07/30/2013

    hair extensions toronto…

    [...]we came across a cool web-site that you simply may well appreciate. Take a search if you want[...]…

  4. TkS8DWVEiZ TkS8DWVEiZ posted 07/30/2013

    Souls in the Waves…

    Fantastic Morning, I just stopped in to go to your internet site and considered I would say I loved myself….

  5. web host posted 07/30/2013

    Sites we Like……

    [...] Every once in a while we choose blogs that we read. Listed below are the latest sites that we choose [...]……

  6. exercise posted 07/30/2013

    News info…

    I was reading the news and I saw this really interesting information…

  7. prêt hypothécaire posted 07/30/2013

    Just Browsing…

    While I was surfing yesterday I noticed a excellent article concerning…

  8. instant payday network review posted 07/30/2013

    instant payday network review…

    [...]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a number of unrelated data, nonetheless seriously worth taking a search, whoa did one particular discover about Mid East has got much more problerms at the same time [...]…

  9. Texas Hill Country posted 07/30/2013

    Wikia…

    Wika linked to this site…

  10. gold bullion prices posted 07/30/2013

    Title…

    [...]usually posts some quite interesting stuff like this. If you are new to this site[...]…

  11. Know about Alnoor Abdulla posted 07/30/2013

    Superb website…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[...]……

  12. siding contractor syracuse posted 07/30/2013

    Recent Blogroll Additions……

    [...]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]……

  13. FA-100 Fender Acoustic Guitar posted 07/30/2013

    Links…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]……

  14. Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  15. online jobs posted 07/31/2013

    online jobs…

    [...]one of our visitors lately recommended the following website[...]…

  16. clear posted 07/31/2013

    VPN Reviews…

    I saw this really great post today….

  17. Facebook Company Page posted 07/31/2013

    Related……

    [...]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[...]……

  18. carcinia cambogia posted 07/31/2013

    Websites we think you should visit…

    [...]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we feel they are actually worth a go through, so have a look[...]……

  19. ADH Gems posted 07/31/2013

    Great website…

    [...]we like to honor many other websites, even if they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages worth checking out[...]……

  20. great blog posted 08/01/2013

    great blog…

    [...]one of our visitors not too long ago suggested the following website[...]…

  21. wordpress themes posted 08/01/2013

    Title…

    [...]very couple of sites that transpire to become comprehensive beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[...]…

  22. new teachers posted 08/01/2013

    Title…

    [...]although web-sites we backlink to beneath are considerably not related to ours, we really feel they’re really worth a go by, so have a look[...]…

  23. Check This posted 08/01/2013

    Check VPN…

    This one is good…

  24. best dating site posted 08/01/2013

    Yahoo results…

    While searching Yahoo I discovered this page in the results and I didn’t think it fit…

  25. paul gallant interventionist posted 08/01/2013

    paul gallant interventionist…

    [...]very couple of websites that come about to be comprehensive beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly well really worth checking out[...]…

  26. Related……

    [...]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[...]……

  27. como seducir a una mujer posted 08/01/2013

    Its hard to find good help…

    I am regularly saying that its difficult to procure good help, but here is…

  28. Maryland Daycare posted 08/01/2013

    Maryland Daycare…

  29. reflecting dog collars posted 08/01/2013

    Blogs ou should be reading…

    [...]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[...]……

  30. Click this posted 08/02/2013

    Check VPN…

    This one is good…

  31. cena zlota posted 08/02/2013

    cena zlota…

    [...]one of our guests not long ago proposed the following website[...]…

  32. aso volvo  posted 08/02/2013

    aso volvo …

    [...]check below, are some totally unrelated web-sites to ours, even so, they may be most trustworthy sources that we use[...]…

  33. clear posted 08/02/2013

    VPN…

    This is file…

  34. Click Here posted 08/02/2013

    VPN Reviews…

    I saw this really great post today….

  35. Check This posted 08/02/2013

    Check VPN…

    This is good…

  36. big bend cares posted 08/02/2013

    Online Article……

    [...]The information mentioned in the article are some of the best available [...]……

  37. ClicK posted 08/02/2013

    VPN…

    This is my file…

  38. Raspberry Ketone a scam posted 08/02/2013

    Awesome website…

    [...]the time to read or visit the content or sites we have linked to below the[...]……

  39. grayslake park district posted 08/02/2013

    Great website…

    [...]we like to honor many other internet sites on the web, even if they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages worth checking out[...]……

  40. clams posted 08/02/2013

    [...]we came across a cool internet site that you simply may possibly get pleasure from. Take a appear in case you want[...]…

    [...]please pay a visit to the web-sites we stick to, such as this 1, as it represents our picks from the web[...]…

  41. Funny Texts posted 08/02/2013

    Funny Texts…

  42. cheapest quotations posted 08/02/2013

    Title…

    [...]we prefer to honor quite a few other web web sites on the web, even if they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages really worth checking out[...]…

  43. fish posted 08/02/2013

    [...]the time to study or go to the content material or sites we’ve linked to beneath the[...]…

    [...]here are some links to web sites that we link to since we think they may be really worth visiting[...]…

  44. Hillview Peak posted 08/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]one of our visitors recently encouraged the following website[...]…

  45. dod enterprise webmail posted 08/03/2013

    Websites we think you should visit…

    [...]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we feel they are actually worth a go through, so have a look[...]……

  46. make money with adsense posted 08/03/2013

    [...]always a huge fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get lots of link appreciate from[...]…

    [...]just beneath, are a lot of entirely not related web pages to ours, on the other hand, they are surely really worth going over[...]…

  47. tierc� posted 08/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]we came across a cool web-site that you could take pleasure in. Take a search in the event you want[...]…

  48. Tahun Baru Jakarta posted 08/03/2013

    Souls in the Waves…

    Great Morning, I just stopped in to visit your site and thought I’d say I appreciated myself….

  49. Serviced Apartments Bangalore posted 08/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]check below, are some totally unrelated web sites to ours, even so, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]…

  50. Allstate VA posted 08/03/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c