If you’re looking to dish out some delicious presents to the food-loving folks in your life, while supporting some amazing independent businesses, we’ve got you covered.
Here are some gift ideas for under the tree or on the table, all given with the hope that they will bring smiles to your loved ones’ faces, whet some appetites and celebrate the huge hearts of small businesses.
Vesta Chocolate Gift Sets
Husband-and-wife team Roger Rodriguez and Julia Choi-Rodriguez make their heavenly artisanal chocolate, bean-to-bar products crafted right in their store and cafe’ in Montclair, New Jersey. Made with some of the best-quality chocolate on the market made from organic cocoa beans and panela sugar, Vesta’s selection includes bars, baked goods, bonbons, spreads and many delicious vegan selections. Their holiday lineup includes an assortment of Vesta Luxe gift sets ($45-$185), Bonbon collection ($24-$45) and 12-pack Cacao Sea Salt Brownie ($80).
For Us Cookies
With roots in Michelin-star restaurants and many years operating her culinary event company, Banchan Story, chef and cookbook author Shin Kim’s cookies are more than just the gorgeous confections they appear to be. Her intention with For Us Cookies was to create “truly better cookies for a better planet,” making her cookies both vegan and gluten-free with sustainably sourced ingredients, as well as wrapping each cookie in compostable and recyclable packaging. Regular flavors include Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate and Oatmeal Cherry, with Hazelnut Chocolate and Butter Pecan featured as seasonal flavors for fall and winter. But if you want to gift an assortment of sweets, there is a For Us Sampler ($34 for 6; $58 for 12) available to order.
Happy Valley Meat Co.
For the carnivores among us, having high-quality meat shipped to one’s door is one incredibly exciting gift (for example, my dad ad was very pleased to get this gift from me last year!). Owner Dan Honig and the team at Happy Valley Meat Co. has worked tirelessly though the years with their family farmer partners in Pennsylvania to provide meat to customers from animals that are grass-fed, grain-finished and pasture-raised. They offer a range of meat patties, chops, meatballs, sausages and more. If you’d like to send a loving gift that will fill one’s freezer well, there’s the Steak Pack ($124), which is 8 pounds of goodness for a steak lover. Also popular is the Family Meal ($70) which is 10 pounds of different cuts of beef.
Founder Alice Jun and her business partner, John Limb, are championing Korean culture with their rice wine in a big way, as the only current commercial purveyor of traditional makgeolli in the United States. Made with organic rices and nuruk starter, using traditional brewing techniques, Hana Makgeolli is producing several different brews that are enticing the masses. The makgeolli brews are available for pickup and delivery in the NYC area, as well as nationwide shipping, or bottles can be found at these select retailers. Crowd favorites include the Hwaju 12 ($30) and Ssuk Makgeolli ($24).
Mama O’s Kimchi
Owner Kheedim Oh originally created his own kimchi because he missed his parents’, and he created a brand that has gotten recognition from Milk Street, Williams-Sonoma and Food & Wine magazine, to name a few. For the fervent fermenter or kimchi lover your life, there are many gifts to consider from Mama O’s. In addition to the assortment of handmade kimchi ($45-$47) available for purchase, there are signature Kimchili Sauces ($17-$18) and Kimchi Pastes ($15-$16). The biggest hit for the holidays, though, is Mama O’s Premium Homemade Kimchi Kit ($45) that includes three varieties of kimchi (Original, Super Spicy and Vegan) to make its 7-inch, half-gallon base with instructions included with each kit.
Gilbert & Bernard Pâté & Specialty Foods
Not that we need a reason, but the holidays are the perfect time to bring out the charcuterie and pâté — and both are a guaranteed jackpot with these two brands. Brooklyn Cured founder Scott Bridi makes high-quality dry-cured meats and sausages as well as pâté, using pasture-raised meat without antibiotics. He co-founded Gilbert & Bernard Pâté with his wife, Hannah Bae of Noona’s Ice Cream, and only good things can happen when two specialty food brand owners come together. Popular gift selections include the Brooklyn Cured Salami Gift Set ($68) and the Gilbert & Bernard Personal Gift Set ($79).
Xi’an Famous Foods
What began in 2005 as a best-kept secret mall stall in Flushing, Queens, where families could eat the food they’d missed from China, has become a business that spans 10 sought-after locations throughout New York City. Famous for his traditional hand-ripped noodle dishes and spicy cumin lamb, owner and James Beard Award nominee Jason Wang continues the legacy his father, David, began by serving up his family recipes from Xi’an in Western China. Great gifts to consider include the Noodle Meal Kits ($41-$58) which also include a vegan option, a two-pack of chili oil ($16) and a signed copy of the “Xi’an Famous Foods” cookbook ($35).
Lloyd’s Carrot Cake
The love put into a Lloyd’s carrot cake runs deep. This cake is so beloved that a customer once purchased one, wrapped the box in T-shirts and sent it to her son who was stationed in Afghanistan. Its New York-staple status was established by the late Lloyd Adams and his wife, Betty, and their children, Brandon and Lilka, carry on their legacy. If you’d like to share the love of Lloyd’s with someone this holiday season, you can reserve a cake for purchase before Christmas to pick up at their location in Riverdale, Bronx (though their holiday lines are long and the cakes do run out!), or their cake slices ($5-$5.50) and different cake selections ($18-$41) are available for delivery on UberEats for Riverdale residents. If you’re looking to ship one across the country, you can order a carrot cake ($69) or red velvet cake ($74) through Goldbelly.
Flour Bakery + Co.
Chef, cookbook author and James Beard Award winner Joanne Chang’s beloved bakeries and cafes in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, have brought fantastic baked goods and meals to customers for over 20 years now. And there is no shortage of fantastic gifts from Flour Bakery + Co. to buy for the devoted home baker in your life. There are many delicious gift boxes ($50-$130) and several signed cookbooks ($25-$80) available, as well as many Flour ready-to-bake products ($45-$90) and Bake-At-Home kits ($19-$39). For the gift that really keeps on giving, folks can now choose from different baking subscriptions, including a new four-, six- and eight-month Cookie Dough Baking Subscriptions ($160-$280), where they receive a different cookie dough flavor each month along with baking instructions.
Exau Olive Oils
Skyler Mapes and her husband, Giuseppe Morisani, founded their business in 2017 and have been producing their high-quality Italian extra virgin olive oil ever since (and it just so happens that Oprah Winfrey is a huge fan of it!). Each bottle is made with careful craftsmanship, as the couple travels to Calabria each year to harvest and press their oil from hand-picked olives. For the holiday season, they are offering bottles of their Lina oil ($28) with 15% off an order of 3+ bottles. Available for pre-order are their customer favorites: the Trio, which includes a bottle of Avus, Lina and Turi ($108) and Due2 oils ($78), which is one Lina and one Turi. They also recently added a brand-new product called the No. 9 ($92), a three-liter tank of olive oil, perfect for jarring, baking and cooking.
Activist and author of “The Korean,” Africa Yoon is a Cameroonian American married to a Korean American raising their three young children in Hawaii, she hopes to help children and families build cultural understanding through toys, games and home goods centered around global foods. Favorite items include the Yoonicorn Kids Gold Mini Banchan Stack ($52), Yoonicorn Kids Home & Away Gold Meal Tray with complimentary training chopsticks and spoon set ($24.98) and Korean Food Flashcards and Mini Lunchbox Tin Carry Case ($39.99). For the holidays, use promo code TODAYSHOW2021 for 15% off.
The Cozy Cup
Founder Celeste Olivo not only makes her own tea blends, but she also brings her love of the immersive tea experience to customers for any occasion. She creates teas with special spices that were in her abuela’s teas, but they can be brewed a lot faster than at abuela’s. There are plenty of gifts to purchase for a tea lover in addition to her beautiful blend of teas to order ($10 each): Packages available for the holidays include the Girl Boss Christmas Set ($40), You Are My Cup of Tea Gift Set ($25) and the Tea Party Kit ($25).
Isalia LeBron and her husband, Jamaal Dunlap (aka Chef JD), are dedicated to showcasing the flavors of their home — Brooklyn, New York — with their spice blends. Breukelen Rub provides a variety of flavorful spice rubs that will make any dish sing. Consider the East New York Blend ($15-20) and Abuela’s Adobo ($15-$20), as they were the original two blends and are tried-and-true customer favorites. The Flatbush Blend Dry Jerk Seasoning ($15-$20) is dedicated to their children and is their love letter to their home and the neighborhood’s Caribbean community. And if you really want to show someone you love them, go for the Boxed Breukelen Rub Gift Set ($52-$72).
Lavender by the Bay
This family-owned business with fields in North Fork, New York, has been attracting customers and visitors with their top-quality French and English lavender since 2002. The Rozenbaum family provides lavender essentials throughout the year that both smell and taste amazing. Though they have a full collection of lavender spa items, they also have plenty of cooking and baking gifts to offer customers. Available for purchase is their Culinary English Lavender ($14) as well as their divine Herbes de Provence blend ($8). They also have a limited supply of their local seasonal raw honey ($14), as well as an English Lavender Bakers’ Bundle ($45), containing 2 ounces of dried lavender and lavender-infused extract, sugar and fleur de sel.
If you choose to order in your family feast this year, Atlas Monroe will make sure the holiday cheer is in every single bite of your meal. Owner Deborah Torres has created an organic, plant-based vegan fried “chick’n” brand that has gotten the attention of vegans, vegetarians, omnivores and carnivores, alike! You can find Atlas Monroe chick’n sold in various restaurants throughout the United States, and popular orders for nationwide shipping (the food will arrive frozen, with reheating instructions available on the website) include The Caribbean Fire Feast ($229), The Atlas Monroe Ultimate Christmas Feast ($255) and the Tour de Atlas Monroe Lasagna Feast ($239). Other favorites are the Loaded Mac N Cheese w/ Chives ($19.99), Apple Wood Fired Ribs ($23) and their coveted Vegan Extra Crispy Fried Chick’n ($22.99).