Thanksgiving is next week, and for us, it means going to friends’ homes for dinner and other gatherings. While a bottle of nice wine is usually an easy gift, I thought I would share some other ideas I have compiled over the years. I decided to focus on gifts under $25, and gifts that would be easily available in most markets.
California Olive Ranch Arbequina EVOO. I picked up a bottle to try at Wal-Mart for around $12. Definitely a drizzling oil with high fruitiness. Beware, the regular EVOO has similar packaging. Make sure you get the Arbequina, which is a tiny Spanish olive and has notes that include ripe tropical fruits, apple and fresh artichoke.
This idea is from Devon Frederick in an old House Beautiful. She suggested a wedge of Parmegiano-Reggiano. Usually, you can get a huge wedge (I get mine from Costco, for $15-$20). Make sure you get imported, the rind must look like the picture above, as I don’t think American versions cut the mustard. If you have never broken off a chunk to eat as an appetizer with olives, nuts and cured meats, you are in for a treat!
I love Mrs. Meyers products; the Lavender collection is what I use every day. Most retailers carry a selection of non-toxic cleaning products, so it should be easy to find Mrs. Meyers. I haven’t personally used their candles, but I stood in the aisles of Wal-mart sniffing the fragrances, as I had to pop in for something else. The Lavender, the Basil, and the Lemon Verbena all smelled wonderful and clean, perfect for freshening up a kitchen. And, the candle is only $9.99!
I have never been a fan of highly fragranced candles that smell like food. However, I am also not a fan of shelling out $55 and more for Rigaud or Diptyque as a hostess gift. Anytime I go to a large retailer, I try to look for a fragrance that doesn’t smell like a mass-produced scent. A while ago, I happened to pick up an Evergreen candle from Slatkin & Co. and was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful it smelled. “Fresh green fir balsam blended with sparkling mint, cool pine and spicy clove, with a smoky touch of white birch and dark woods.” It is my favorite fall candle! $19.50 for 14.5 oz. filled candle.
photo credit Marge Ely/Express
It seems that when I make food to give, it tends to be savory versus sweet. Probably because so much holiday fare tends to be of the sweet variety and I feel that people are hankering for something different.
So far this week, I have made candied jalapenos (yum) and a fig-balsamic drizzle (with plans to make a rosemary-balsamic drizzle and an espresso-balsamic drizzle). Last year, I shared this addictive recipe for Sriracha Spiced Pecans in an Express article on holiday entertaining; I need to make those again this weekend.
2 cups pecan halves
4 Tbsp. Sriracha chili sauce (less sauce for less spicy)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread 2 cups of pecan halves on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes. Remove nuts and toss, in a bowl, with Sriracha sauce, salt and brown sugar. Again, spread nuts on cookie sheet, and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, turning nuts twice. Remove and spread on foil to cool. Don’t wait too long to remove or the nuts will begin to stick together. Package in cello bags.