How To: Make a Meal into a Gift

Our first-ever BGSK gift guide highlights the presents we know you want to give and receive. To cut through the cluttered shelves of kitchen-oriented goodies, we’re spending eight days showing you the best of the best of the kitchen goodies to wrap up for or unwrap on Hanukkah and Christmas.

Today is Day #4—How To: Make a Meal into a Gift

I’ve never been one for giving material presents. Growing up, I was a master of DIY coupons. My mom still has a couple free hug certificates pinned to her bulletin board. Yes, the actual act of cutting colored paper into squares may seem childish, but there are some coupons that still fly, even as a twenty-something. A special meal just happens to be one of them.

Since dinner is not something that can be put in a box and wrapped (unless you’re ordering yours from seamlessweb), I have a few tips for the modern-day coupon-maker about how you can make your meal into an actual gift, including some items to take home at the end of the night. Read on for delivery ideas, ways to set the scene, and our go-to menu for this holiday season.

**Meal Plan**

Go Paperless. If you were really into arts and crafts as a child, don’t let us hold you back from creating the modern day coupon of your dreams. But after you’ve given the initial card, follow it up with an actual notification in the recipient’s inbox, as if he or she were receiving a real electronic gift certificate. Paperless Post is now offering FREE holiday cards–take advantage and customize the envelope and email message to give that special someone a taste of what’s in store. Also, paperless post has given BGSK readers 25 free coins and stamps–redeem them here!

Choose a menu. There are two ways to approach menu planning. First, you can choose to customize and make dishes that include all of the recipient’s favorite foods, or that have some significance in your relationship. For our anniversary, I made Josh a meal where every course had an ingredient from one of the places we’d been together. There are a million different food narratives you can tell with the menu you choose. Otherwise, if the goal is just to make an exceptional, slightly more elaborate than usual dinner, try our BGSK recommendations below!

Then make it into an actual menu. The problem with experiential gifts is that you have nothing to physically take home with you at the end of the night (unless, in this case, you count leftovers). So while we had you save your energy on the actual coupon, it’s important to put a little bit of effort and formality into the menus. Use the same Paperless Post template and print out copies of the tasting menu for each place setting (see example above), or put together something yourself in Powerpoint. This touch is something that parents in particular are apt to love. Who knows, the menu might just end up on your mom’s bulletin board 15 years later.

Create a playlist. If it’s still the holiday season, you can go all out with Christmas carols and the like. Otherwise, it’s just nice to have some of your favorite songs strung together to get the mood right. After the meal is over, you can share the playlist from the evening on Spotify and give your date something else to take home besides the memory of all the delicious food you ate.


Caramelized Onion Pizzettes with Smoked Mozzarella and Arugula

Seared Radicchio Salad with Thyme-Honey Drizzle

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel and Cider Jus (from our book)

Chocolate Mousse with Gingerbread Cream

Elderflower Fizz

Posted in: Dates, Gift Guide, Holiday
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