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 (3553)

  1. Deutschland Nachrichten posted 02/27/2013

    Deutschland Nachrichten…

    [...]Every as soon as inside a whilst we pick blogs that we read. Listed beneath would be the most up-to-date internet sites that we choose [...]…

  2. koshi posted 02/27/2013

    Title…

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

  3. Kansas City web Design posted 02/27/2013

    Kansas City web Design…

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

  4. Aluminium dross processing machine…

  5. Cagiva Graphics posted 02/27/2013

    Cagiva Graphics…

    [...]the time to read or stop by the content or internet sites we have linked to below the[...]…

  6. free cannabis seeds posted 02/27/2013

    Title…

    [...]very couple of web-sites that occur to be detailed beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly effectively worth checking out[...]…

  7. epxbody review posted 02/27/2013

    epxbody review…

    wonderful points altogether, you just received a new reader. What would you recommend in regards to your submit that you just made a few days ago? Any positive?…

  8. best poppers posted 02/27/2013

    Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  9. silk top full lace wigs posted 02/27/2013

    silk top full lace wigs…

    [...]we came across a cool website that you just may love. Take a appear when you want[...]…

  10. dermatologist nyc posted 02/27/2013

    dermatologist nyc…

    [...]we like to honor lots of other world-wide-web web-sites on the net, even though they aren?t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages worth checking out[...]…

  11. hydrocodone abuse symptoms posted 02/28/2013

    Title…

    [...]here are some links to web-sites that we link to mainly because we consider they may be really worth visiting[...]…

  12. replacement car keys posted 02/28/2013

    Title…

    [...]Here are a number of the web sites we suggest for our visitors[...]…

  13. logo designer posted 02/28/2013

    logo designer…

    [...]The info mentioned in the post are a number of the most beneficial offered [...]…

  14. cheapest car insurance quotes posted 02/28/2013

    Title…

    [...]although internet websites we backlink to beneath are considerably not related to ours, we really feel they are essentially really worth a go as a result of, so have a look[...]…

  15. Title…

    [...]the time to study or visit the content material or internet sites we have linked to below the[...]…

  16. Poker School posted 02/28/2013

    Poker School…

    The crux of your writing whilst sounding agreeable originally, did not work properly with me after some time. Somewhere within the sentences you actually were able to make me a believer but only for a short while. I still have got a problem with your l…

  17. 3d face dolls posted 02/28/2013

    3d face dolls…

    [...]very couple of internet sites that occur to be in depth below, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly worth checking out[...]…

  18. fashion posted 02/28/2013

    fashion…

  19. this website posted 03/01/2013

    this website…

    [...]we came across a cool website which you may possibly take pleasure in. Take a appear should you want[...]…

  20. Grilled Chicken Recipes posted 03/01/2013

    Title…

    [...]although websites we backlink to beneath are considerably not associated to ours, we feel they’re essentially worth a go by means of, so possess a look[...]…

  21. wall paper download posted 03/01/2013

    Title…

    [...]please check out the web pages we follow, such as this one, because it represents our picks in the web[...]…

  22. belly fat burning foods for men…

    [...]we came across a cool web site that you just may well delight in. Take a look in the event you want[...]…

  23. swift code posted 03/01/2013

    Title…

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

  24. gay posted 03/01/2013

    Title…

    [...]that will be the finish of this report. Here you will discover some web sites that we feel you’ll enjoy, just click the hyperlinks over[...]…

  25. distill magazine posted 03/01/2013

    Truly Value Blog…

    I truly appreciate this post. A great deal obliged….

  26. gold buyers posted 03/01/2013

    gold buyers…

    [...]we came across a cool internet site that you just might delight in. Take a look for those who want[...]…

  27. Convention Photography posted 03/01/2013

    Convention Photography…

    [...]one of our guests just lately encouraged the following website[...]…

  28. neue bmw modelle 2013 posted 03/01/2013

    Test in 2013…

    I know it’s going to be difficult for traditional motorcyclists – especially young, traditional motorcyclists….

  29. oxyelite posted 03/01/2013

    oxyelite…

    [...]although internet sites we backlink to below are considerably not connected to ours, we feel they’re basically worth a go through, so possess a look[...]…

  30. what is the best way to lose weight…

    [...]please go to the web sites we adhere to, such as this a single, because it represents our picks through the web[...]…

  31. Related Site posted 03/02/2013

    Title…

    [...]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a number of unrelated information, nonetheless truly really worth taking a search, whoa did one master about Mid East has got extra problerms also [...]…

  32. free cell phone service posted 03/02/2013

    free cell phone service…

    [...]check beneath, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, even so, they may be most trustworthy sources that we use[...]…

  33. uv light for nails posted 03/02/2013

    uv light for nails…

    [...]below you will come across the link to some websites that we consider you should visit[...]…

  34. gilbert real estate posted 03/02/2013

    gilbert real estate…

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

  35. On-line cz skateshop posted 03/02/2013

    On-line cz skateshop…

    Hello there, I discovered your web site via Google while looking for a comparable matter, your web site got here up, it looks good. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks….

  36. carpet cleaning posted 03/02/2013

    carpet cleaning…

    [...]check below, are some completely unrelated websites to ours, even so, they may be most trustworthy sources that we use[...]…

  37. best mexican food fresno posted 03/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine some unrelated data, nevertheless seriously really worth taking a search, whoa did one understand about Mid East has got additional problerms as well [...]…

  38. e-shop posted 03/03/2013

    e-shop…

    Interesting article. It is extremely unfortunate that over the last one decade, the travel industry has already been able to to handle terrorism, SARS, tsunamis, bird flu virus, swine flu, as well as first ever entire global economic collapse. Through …

  39. webcam free posted 03/03/2013

    The Slave of the Husband…

    Trying to find in advance to finding out extra from you afterward!……

  40. exterior doors posted 03/03/2013

    exterior doors…

    [...]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[...]…

  41. What does hmu mean posted 03/03/2013

    What does hmu mean…

    [...]please check out the web sites we stick to, such as this one particular, as it represents our picks through the web[...]…

  42. love spells posted 03/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]please check out the websites we adhere to, which includes this 1, because it represents our picks through the web[...]…

  43. erkek nasil olmali posted 03/03/2013

    erkek nasil olmali…

    [...]The details talked about inside the write-up are several of the best offered [...]…

  44. Jaguars Tickets posted 03/04/2013

    Title…

    [...]please check out the web pages we stick to, such as this one particular, because it represents our picks through the web[...]…

  45. Corset et guepière posted 03/04/2013

    Corset et guepière…

    [...]Here is a good Blog You may Discover Intriguing that we Encourage You[...]…

  46. Landlord Insurance San Diego posted 03/04/2013

    Landlord Insurance San Diego…

    [...]Here is an excellent Weblog You might Discover Fascinating that we Encourage You[...]…

  47. jabong discount coupons posted 03/04/2013

    jabong discount coupons…

    [...]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not connected to ours, we really feel they may be essentially really worth a go by means of, so have a look[...]…

  48. dresses posted 03/04/2013

    dresses…

    Heya are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you require any coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!…

  49. christmas travel deals 2012 posted 03/04/2013

    Testbericht 2013…

    Despite having three decades of product innovation under their belts, the designers at Burton are still coming up with big ideas…

  50. estate buyers springfield il posted 03/04/2013

    estate buyers springfield il…

    [...]please go to the sites we stick to, such as this one, because it represents our picks in the web[...]…

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c