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 (3699)

  1. best family tents posted 11/11/2013

    best family tents…

    [...]please visit the sites we stick to, including this one, because it represents our picks from the web[...]…

  2. verbalizadoss posted 11/11/2013

    that which has been denied”. – Helen Keller…

    Ima quote shit…

  3. Van Nuys Bail Bonds posted 11/11/2013

    Van Nuys Bail Bonds…

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

  4. sumbouloi epixeirhswwn posted 11/11/2013

    Sources…

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

  5. Home Improvement posted 11/11/2013

    Cool sites…

    [...]I came across a nice site that you might be interested in. Check it out[...]……

  6. [...]{The total|The entire|The whole|The full|The overall} {glance|look} of your {site|web site|website} is {great|wonderful|fantastic| magnificent|excellent}, let {smartly|well|neatly} as the {content|content material}![...]…

    [...]I am no longer sure the place you’re getting your information, however good topic.[...]…

  7. Canada loans for bad credit posted 11/11/2013

    finance degree jobs…

    Really and as I have not thought about cash loans and finance degree jobs….

  8. Day Spas In Orlando posted 11/12/2013

    The Absent Game…

    Concerning me and my husband we’ve owned extra MP3 gamers through the years than I can count, such as Sansas, iRivers, iPods (basic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few a long time I’ve settled down to one line of gamers….

  9. singapore pools posted 11/12/2013

    Its hard to find good help…

    I am constantnly saying that its hard to get good help, but here is…

  10. view more posted 11/12/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had not come upon such a stuff like this….

  11. Marietta Day Spa posted 11/12/2013

    Third Flower…

    My spouse and i are now delighted that Albert could execute his scientific studies because of the strategies he had by your online page. It is actually every so often perplexing to only usually be freely giving ways which some individuals might have be…

  12. runescape 3 power leveling posted 11/12/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    With thanks…

  13. identity theft posted 11/12/2013

    Informative and precise…

    Its hard to find informative and precise info but here I found…

  14. Izanagi dan Izanami posted 11/12/2013

    13 November 2013 Download Naruto Shippuden 338…

    Download Naruto Shippuden Episode 338 dengan Judul Izanagi and Izanami Full Complit Medifire at #http://goo.gl/OFKfHn…

  15. review posted 11/13/2013

    clothing…

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thanks for providing these details….

  16. make money online posted 11/13/2013

    News info…

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

  17. getting rid of skin tags posted 11/13/2013

    Title…

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

  18. cell phone spy posted 11/13/2013

    cell phone spy…

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

  19. ace parking keith jones posted 11/13/2013

    Recommeneded websites…

    [...]Here are some of the sites we recommend for our visitors[...]……

  20. izmir reklam ajansi posted 11/13/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

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

  21. jobs apprenticeships posted 11/13/2013

    jobs apprenticeships…

    [...]very handful of web-sites that transpire to be comprehensive below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well really worth checking out[...]…

  22. Russell R.Lowe posted 11/13/2013

    [...]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[...]…

  23. Dragon Nest gold posted 11/14/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    we can provide that power leveling faster and safe ,welcome to place order on our website…

  24. window tint film posted 11/14/2013

    [...]always a major fan of linking to bloggers that I enjoy but don’t get quite a bit of link really like from[...]…

    [...]just beneath, are several completely not related web-sites to ours, on the other hand, they may be certainly really worth going over[...]…

  25. Billigt löshår posted 11/14/2013

    Blogs ou should be reading…

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

  26. Age of WuShu Liang posted 11/14/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    we can provide that power leveling faster and safe ,welcome to place order on our website…

  27. AION Power Leveling posted 11/14/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    Thanks…

  28. Gene M.George posted 11/14/2013

    [...]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a couple of unrelated information, nevertheless seriously really worth taking a search, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got much more problerms at the same time [...]…

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

  29. despedidas soltera madrid posted 11/14/2013

    Title…

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

  30. [...]{Nice|Excellent|Great} {blog|weblog} {here|right here}! {Also|Additionally} your {website|site|website} {a lot|lots|so much|quite a bit|rather a lot|loads} up {fast|very fast}![...]…

    [...] What web host are you the use of? Can I get your associate link to your host? I want site loaded up as quickly as yours lol[...]…

  31. printer philadelphia posted 11/15/2013

    [...]that could be the finish of this article. Right here you will come across some internet sites that we feel you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]…

    [...]Every once in a while we opt for blogs that we study. Listed beneath would be the most recent internet sites that we pick out [...]…

  32. diablo 3 power leveling posted 11/15/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    Our own sincere apologies for not saying thanks to you sooner…

  33. PR links posted 11/15/2013

    Looking around…

    I like to browse in various places on the internet, often I will just go to Stumble Upon and follow thru…

  34. locksmith 91423 posted 11/15/2013

    Looking around…

    While I was browsing today I saw a excellent post concerning…

  35. kerio connect posted 11/16/2013

    kerio connect…

    [...]check below, are some completely unrelated internet websites to ours, having said that, they’re most trustworthy sources that we use[...]…

  36. fifa 14 Coins posted 11/16/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    I feel pretty happy to have encountered your site and look forward to plenty of more exciting times reading here…

  37. www.nomoredebts.org posted 11/16/2013

    Title…

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

  38. archeage power leveling posted 11/16/2013

    safe power leveling and gold…

    My very own sincere apologies for not expressing gratitude to sooner…

  39. souhait coldfusion…

    classifica timers twilight imagens lapok uzuale youchorus….

  40. click here for newsletter format marketing…

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

  41. makia julpo posted 11/17/2013

    Aarti Sequeira’s Gift Guide | Devour The Blog: Cooking Channel…

    My spouse and that i are already now delighted that Albert could execute his reports thanks to the thoughts he had by your web content. It is actually every so often perplexing to only normally be making a gift of ways which lots of people might have b…

  42. home interiors catalog posted 11/17/2013

    Title…

    [...]Every once inside a although we choose blogs that we read. Listed below are the most up-to-date internet sites that we pick out [...]…

  43. Alice J.Beckman posted 11/17/2013

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

    [...]Here is a good Weblog You may Find Exciting that we Encourage You[...]…

  44. blackheads posted 11/17/2013

    blackheads…

    pimple popping, zit popping, cyst popping, pimples, popping zits, pimple pop, zit, cyst, blackheads, blackhead, back pimple popping, popping back pimple, cyst extraction, cyst removal, sebaceous cyst, cyst pop, pop cyst, popping zits, pimple pop, bigge…

  45. NYC Beauty Spa posted 11/18/2013

    Woman of Alien…

    Fantastic do the job you have got finished, this website is admittedly awesome with superb information and facts. Time is God’s way of holding every thing from taking place directly….

  46. samuellozano.net posted 11/18/2013

    samuellozano.net…

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

  47. cheshire wedding photographers posted 11/19/2013

    Title…

    [...]just beneath, are various completely not connected internet sites to ours, having said that, they are certainly worth going over[...]…

  48. Jeraldine Stanowski posted 11/19/2013

    Title…

    [...]just beneath, are various entirely not connected web-sites to ours, nonetheless, they may be certainly worth going over[...]…

  49. Sources…

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

  50. zalozenia mouths…

    goldenwesley fantastice mencoba bravely sozleri infrequently vais….

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c