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 (3518)

  1. debt posted 10/30/2013

    Title…

    [...]the time to study or go to the material or internet sites we have linked to beneath the[...]…

  2. Download Winrar Free posted 10/30/2013

    Winrar FRee Download…

    Hey Thanks For Download Winrar…

  3. my love posted 10/30/2013

    my love…

    [...]although internet sites we backlink to beneath are considerably not associated to ours, we really feel they may be really worth a go by means of, so have a look[...]…

  4. payday loans direct lenders posted 10/30/2013

    easiest ways to make money…

    It absolutely agree with the previous message, but payday loan and easiest ways to make money only in my site….

  5. ASVAB Practice Test posted 10/30/2013

    ASVAB Practice Test…

    [...]check beneath, are some absolutely unrelated web sites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]…

  6. Airlines Northwest posted 10/31/2013

    Dreary Day…

    It was a dreary day here yesterday, so I just took to piddeling around online and found…

  7. kurun rows…

    aprox deletegraham meto listens knockout milo winzip….

  8. view web page posted 10/31/2013

    view web page…

    [...]please check out the web-sites we follow, which includes this a single, because it represents our picks from the web[...]…

  9. Denver SEO posted 10/31/2013

    Denver SEO…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I adore but don?t get a good deal of link enjoy from[...]…

  10. Anonymous posted 10/31/2013

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

  11. runescape 3 power leveling posted 10/31/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I feel very blessed to have discovered your webpages and look forward to so many more amazing minutes reading here…

  12. my website posted 10/31/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I feel very privileged to have discovered the web page and look forward to really more excellent minutes reading here…

  13. youtube video posted 11/01/2013

    News info…

    I was reading the news and I saw this really cool topic…

  14. condo abac bangna posted 11/01/2013

    Great information…

    This is brilliant. Device stare upon every single group in it so we are thunderstruck. We’re attracted to this kind of behaviors. At least one appreciate more place, and assess your precious time while in this. Please keep add relevant content. They m…

  15. Pattaya Newspaper posted 11/01/2013

    News info…

    I was reading the news and I saw this really cool info…

  16. customized fat loss reviews posted 11/01/2013

    Title…

    [...]although web sites we backlink to beneath are considerably not connected to ours, we really feel they may be truly really worth a go through, so possess a look[...]…

  17. home business opportunities posted 11/02/2013

    Title…

    [...]that could be the end of this post. Here you’ll obtain some web sites that we think you will appreciate, just click the links over[...]…

  18. Motel posted 11/02/2013

    Title…

    [...]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a number of unrelated information, nevertheless actually really worth taking a search, whoa did one study about Mid East has got more problerms as well [...]…

  19. four a pizza Portugal posted 11/02/2013

    four a pizza Portugal…

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

  20. tadalafil generico colombia posted 11/02/2013

    boiler umarassalam…

    riguardo regular impressions slamonline hawaiis flawless schuberts….

  21. agreement posted 11/02/2013

    Sources…

    [...]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]……

  22. We posted 11/02/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

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

  23. compare motor trade insurance posted 11/02/2013

    compare motor trade insurance…

    [...]we like to honor several other online web pages around the internet, even when they aren?t linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages really worth checking out[...]…

  24. sildenafil tablets 100 mg posted 11/02/2013

    canal terbenam…

    informe ingathering secunda rytmspar midlandswv analyze dowdle….

  25. nikon d3100 posted 11/03/2013

    The Absent Game…

    Among me and my husband we’ve owned extra MP3 gamers over time than I can count, like Sansas, iRivers, iPods (typical & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few decades I’ve settled down to one line of players….

  26. laptop repair leeds posted 11/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]please check out the web pages we follow, including this one particular, as it represents our picks from the web[...]…

  27. nikon d7000 posted 11/03/2013

    Woman of Alien…

    Fantastic function you may have done, this web site is basically cool with wonderful data. Time is God’s strategy for preserving almost everything from happening at the same time….

  28. babysitter posted 11/03/2013

    Read More…

    Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is really informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!…

  29. pure green coffee bean extract posted 11/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]very handful of sites that take place to be comprehensive below, from our point of view are undoubtedly nicely worth checking out[...]…

  30. website design brisbane posted 11/03/2013

    Digg…

    While checking out DIGG yesterday I found this…

  31. Title…

    [...]we like to honor lots of other internet web pages on the web, even though they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages really worth checking out[...]…

  32. online gambling sites posted 11/04/2013

    The Absent Game…

    Between me and my husband we have owned extra MP3 players through the years than I can count, such as Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few several years I’ve settled down to one line of players….

  33. ny sitters posted 11/04/2013

    ny sitters…

    [...]very few web sites that occur to be in depth beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly nicely worth checking out[...]…

  34. artists posted 11/04/2013

    Dreary Day…

    It was a dreary day here yesterday, so I just took to messing around on the internet and realized…

  35. tsw power leveling posted 11/04/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    Your doing a stunning job…

  36. forex trading tutorial posted 11/04/2013

    Online Article……

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

  37. stay at home mom posted 11/04/2013

    Thorn of Girl…

    Superb facts is often observed on this world wide web blog site….

  38. australia posted 11/04/2013

    Title…

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

  39. HGH Supplements posted 11/04/2013

    Souls in the Waves…

    Very good Morning, I just stopped in to go to your site and imagined I would say I appreciated myself….

  40. click here posted 11/05/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t encountered such a point like this….

  41. t mobile with iphone 5 posted 11/05/2013

    Title…

    [...]we like to honor numerous other world wide web internet sites on the web, even when they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages really worth checking out[...]…

  42. a replacement posted 11/05/2013

    Awesome website…

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

  43. jay warsinske posted 11/05/2013

    jay warsinske…

    [...]Every once in a though we select blogs that we study. Listed below would be the most recent sites that we select [...]…

  44. diablo 3 gold eu posted 11/05/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    You are conducting a remarkable job…

  45. Third Flower…

    My wife and i are actually now delighted that Albert could carry out his reports as a result of the strategies he had by way of your web page. It can be now and again perplexing to only always be giving freely methods which some people might have been …

  46. marvel hero power leveling posted 11/06/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    My personal honest apologies for not expressing gratitude to you earlier…

  47. marvel hero power leveling posted 11/06/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t discovered such a subject like this….

  48. Blade and Soul Power Leveling posted 11/06/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    You are carrying out a good job…

  49. Carbon Michel posted 11/06/2013

    Whispering Misty…

    So sorry you can expect to skip the workshop!…

  50. Multilevel Marketing Business posted 11/06/2013

    The Birch of the Shadow…

    I believe there may perhaps be considered a couple of duplicates, but an exceedingly helpful list! I have tweeted this. Many thanks for sharing!…

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c