Put down the gift basket.
During the holidays, people say it’s the thought that counts. And though that’s (mostly) true, there are some food gifts you should just never buy the people you like (editor’s note: if you draw your office enemy’s name for Secret Santa, then prepackaged fruitcake is totally fair game.)
If you want to give a food gift that your loved ones will actually enjoy this holiday season, turn to our artisanal food gift guide, our guide to regional food gifts you can ship, or find recipes for homemade holiday food gifts.
But, please, never give these seven food gifts.
I have feelings about fruitcake (and they’re not the warm-and-fuzzy kind.) This sorry excuse for a cake should be banned — it’s incredibly dense, sickly sweet, and weighs enough to act as a doorstop. During the holidays, everyone seems to have an extra fruitcake lying around because no one wants to eat them —so, they’re re-gifted every year and the terrible karmic process begins again. And, for the record, I’m not the holiday dessert Grinch – I’m always game for a gingerbread cookie or glass of eggnog, but fruitcake needed to die in the Victorian era with things like jellied meat and corsets. It’s 2017, y’all. We have ovens and brownie mix, so WHY ARE WE STILL EATING FRUITCAKE?
Bad wine (you know the kind)
Anything that comes in a jug or cardboard box should be off-limits. For three inexpensive and tasty vino picks that pair well with every kind of holiday food, consult this handy guide.
Meat and cheese basket
I’m game for the smoked meat and cheese, but there are always some weird accoutrements like pineapple mustard or cranberry relish that are gross and completely unnecessary. For less than the $40 (plus shipping) it would cost you to order one of these baskets, go to Whole Foods and create a DIY version with fancy olives, cheese, and crackers —it will seem more personal, and you’ll save some major cash.
Cookies that aren’t homemade
Homemade treats are always a thoughtful and well-received gift, but buying a $100 holiday-themed cookie tower with 83 cookies in it—yes, this actually exists—is just so unnecessary. The prepackaged cookies are always stale and I can’t eat 80+ cookies in a week—so, they’re going to go to waste (just like that $100 you spent on cookies.)
A basket of pears
If you’re online shopping and you think to yourself, “You know, I think a basket of pears would make a really nice holiday gift,” back away from the computer right now. There are retailers that sell 18 pears for $50, and for some unknown reason people actually buy them. Pears are not some exotic, hard-to-get fruit—they’re literally in season during the winter and I can pick them up at Costco for way less than $50. Also, who can eat 18 pears before they go bad? Not me.
Anything you can find in a CVS aisle
There’s only one socially acceptable time to wander into the drugstore aisle and walk out with a holiday gift —and that’s when there’s a $10 cap on your Secret Santa gift and you don’t really know the recipient, so you buy them a generic food gift basket.
A box of chocolate
I won’t sit here and pretend I’m some kind of chocolate gourmand, but I think we can all agree there’s nothing worse than a bad box of chocolate. Chances are, if you’re picking up a box of chocolate from Wal-Mart, you’ll probably end up with chalky, pastel-goo-filled mystery candies that people take a half bite of and toss in the garbage.