Our first-ever BGSK gift guide highlights eight days of 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 #6–The 7 Best Giftable Food Activities.
There are food gifts like boxes of chocolate bark that can fit inside a stocking, and then there are those that are simply explained in a card. Who says the best presents have to be material things? For food lovers, experiential gifts are sometimes the most thoughtful, creative, and appreciated.
What also makes food activities such great gifts is that you get to do something together. They are also great go-to’s for people who have everything or are otherwise impossible to buy for. If you’re thinking about going this route for the Christmakkah season, here are some of our favorite giftable food activities to give you some inspiration.
**Favorite Food Activity Gifts**
1. Neighborhood tour. Most cities are packed with interesting ethnic pockets that make eating your way through a geographical area fun, interesting, and exotic. You can design your own itinerary, but you might find a tour company that specializes in food excursions that are exactly what you’re looking for. New York, in particular, has plenty. You can explore Chinatown, sampling Peking duck and dumplings while taking in some interesting cultural facts along the way. Other neighborhoods, like Nolita, have much more of a range of foods to taste. There’s the old world pies in Little Italy, but also all-American bakeries, Mexican cafes, and more!
2. Food category tour. Most cities are famous for something. In New York, it’s pizza (though Chicago would probably disagree). Give a gift designed around tasting the best offering of your city’s specialty. In NYC, Scott’s Pizza Tour is renowned. But you can always design your own, or center a tour in less well-charted food terrain—cookies, nachos, bahn mi, meatballs, food truck goodies, you name it! Hint: go hungry.
3. Favorites tour. Instead of taking an organized food tour, go rogue and show someone you love all of your favorite things to eat around town by taking them on a journey to all your foodie finds. Check out this post to help you map your favorite foods and eat on the go. Print out a map for your loved one and enclose it in a card, then plan when you’re going to match your adventure.
4. Pair food with another type of activity. It doesn’t just have to be just about the meal. Pair a themed restaurant with another type of activity—a movie, a play, or a baseball game. You can even create your own movie marathon, with a different dish or treat that correlates to each movie you’ll watch. Go to Koreatown and eat kimchi followed by karaoke. Go to a restaurant for soul food before seeing the Broadway show “Memphis.” There are a million creative pairings you can create.
5. Cooking class. Though this route takes the least amount of advance planning (and the most amount of cash), you can still get creative with what type of cooking class to give as a gift. Choose something wacky or obscure that your loved one would have never thought to take. A candy making class, anyone? The bigger cooking schools like ICE in New York have a whole range of classes to choose from. You can also think outside the box. Get the chef from one of your favorite restaurants to come to your home and teach you a few tricks, or see about getting permission to go behind the scenes in an actual restaurant kitchen. You can even teach someone how to make your own signature dish: pizza, maybe, or layer cakes.
6. Scavenger hunt. Want to go really all out? Instead of planning a food tour of your favorites, plan it around theirs. Set up a scavenger hunt around the city that will result in a very drawn out 5 course meal. Start early, and instruct your loved one to meet you at a restaurant. Share a small appetizer and a paired cocktail, then give them the first clue. From now on, you’ll have enlisted the help of friends to meet them at the next 3 restaurants. If you call ahead, there might even be the possibility of coercing the chef into participating in the scheme. By the end of the evening, your loved one will have cruised around to 5 different dishes at 5 different restaurants, and eaten with some of their closest friends along the way. Meet back up at the 5th restaurant and hear all about the experience over dessert. This is elaborate, but it sure does make for a memorable gift.
7. Destination eating. Maybe Napa’s out of range, but if there’s a restaurant you’ve been eying, take a day and make a pilgrimage there. Bonus points if your choice is near public transportation. Consider Long Island and Westchester if you’re a New Yorker. If you’re looking to really get away for a meal, our recommendation is the The Angry Trout in faraway Grand Marais, MN. And, there’s always Paris.
(BONUS) 8. A special home cooked meal. Perhaps the simplest, but most heartwarming option is a home cooked meal at your apartment. Here are some tips on how to make this everyday occurrence, into a really special gift.