I’m going to let you in on a secret. Christmas is ten days away and I haven’t purchased a single present. Just this morning my mom lectured me about my procrastination. I assured her there’s still nearly two weeks left for me check off everyone on my list. That’s what Amazon Prime shipping is for, right? 2-day shipping baby!
So, if you’re anything like me, you probably still have a lot of shopping to do. And if you have any food, wine, or BBQ fanatics on your list I have some suggestions for you.
I decided to limit this list to my 3-5 favorite things in each category. Some items I find invaluable, others are just handy to have around. And while a few of these are affiliate links, I can assure you I vouch for (no, live by!) every single thing listed. They are items I either use regularly, or items listed on my own wish list this year.
Before you begin, I should first let you know that while hubby and I are huge into wine and food (especially BBQ), we are not into clutter (at all!). We are not into silly gadgets that don’t work, clutter up our counters, or end up in junk drawers. We like to keep things simple and live by a small few (yet super useful) items in our kitchen, cellar, and backyard grilling area.
Gifts for Wine Lovers
- Champagne stopper: A must have. Whether you intend to finish your bottle of bubbles within an hour or four days, these stoppers are necessary to seal up the bottle and not allow the bubbles to escape.
- These are super cheap and I have a ton of them, but they are really only good if you intend to finish the bottle same day. They don’t work well if you intend to keep the bottle overnight, or for a few days.
- These are much better and allow your wine to last a few days longer.
- I just bought this one from Cork bottle shop in Portland, but I also found them on Amazon. I tested them out this weekend and they were pretty awesome. I’m planning to go back and buy a few more. Stocking stuffers for wine lovers for sure!
- Good Stemware: There’s no such thing as too much stemware (at least in my house where we break at least one glass per week). I’m a fan of Riedel stemware, but Schott Zwiesel is very nice too.
- Several of my champagne flutes have found their way to the garbage this year, so these are currently on my Christmas wish list.
- Ice bucket: You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a good ice bucket. The one I use the most is just like this one.
- Double Hinged Corkscrew (the only cork puller you need). I’ve been gifted every type of cork puller that exists, and I find most them useless. They are too big, break easily, or just make your life more difficult. The simple waiters corkscrew is the one and only cork puller I like to use. It may not be anything fancy, but it gets the job done the best.
- Soirée Wine Aerator: Ever open a bottle that’s too tight (or closed)? Don’t have a decanter? This little bottle top aerator and decanter quickly aerates and opens your wine with no mess. I’ve tried most products like this one and I can honestly say this is the best. It’s so good that Target recently came out with their own knock off version.
Gift Idea: Why not put a basket together with an ice bucket (in place of a traditional basket), a nice bottle of wine, along with a cork puller, champagne stopper, and a gift card to his or her favorite wine store?
- American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States, by Jancis Robinson, Linda Murphy
- The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste, by Jon Bonne
- The Exes in My iPod: A Playlist of the Men Who Rocked Me to Wine Country, by Lisa M. Mattson
Gifts for Foodies
- KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer (in Empire Red): This item has revolutionized the way I cook and bake in the kitchen. Best money I’ve spent on a kitchen appliance, ever. I highly recommend the bold Empire Red color. It’s so pretty and shiny and looks so great next to stainless steel appliances.
- Microplane: Best way to get fine shavings of Parmesan cheese, citrus rind, nutmeg, and so many others. We’ve had ours for years and it still works perfectly. This one works great too.
- Good Knife: This is the exact knife we have and it’s really the only one I use. It was a gift from my mother in law years ago and is still in excellent shape. A good knife is a necessity in any food lovers kitchen!
- Hand Immersion Blender: I have to say this was probably the most unexpectedly useful gem we received from our wedding. We’ve gotten more use out of this tool than anything else we have in our kitchen. Use it to puree soups and other foods without needing to transfer to a blender. One less thing to clean. I (heart) our hand immersion blender!
My Wish List
- Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor: I’ve survived on a teeny tiny 4-cup cheap food processor for the last several years. It’s due time I upgraded to this 14-cup king of food processors. I’ve got my eye on this one.
- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Round French Oven: I will have this one day. Oh yes, I will.
Gifts for Grilling & BBQ
I asked my husband to list his 3-5 items he can’t live without.
- Classic Instant Read Pocket Meat Thermometer: It goes without saying that any decent BBQ needs to be cooked to the perfect temperature. I get it, there are tons of instant read and digital thermometer’s. But I swear by this classic, easy to use and easy to clean gem.
- Charcoal Chimney: No lighter fluid, ever. So the alternative for charcoal is to buy a chimney. In 20 minutes, you have hot coals with the ease of a simple match, paper and the charcoal in the chimney. Flavor winner.
- Large Spatula for Grilling: If you grill fish, you need this. It gets under a long filet easily, avoids damaging the skin and makes flipping burgers an event.
- Smokin’ with Myron Mixon: Recipes Made Simple, from the Winningest Man in Barbecue (Book): This book is awesome. It’s simple, it has sauces, technique and recipes. If you need to own one BBQ book it is this one. Hands down.
Gifts for Travel
- Bose Quiet Comfort Noise Canceling Headphones: I bought these for my husband years ago, and I’m not sure who loves them more… him or me? These are not just incredible headphones, but they truly do mask the annoying loud noise produced by airplane engines when in flight, which makes it easier for you to get rest on your flight.
Gifts for Photography
- Tasty Food Photography (ebook): This book has changed the way I take pictures in a HUGE way. I read the book below first, but it was a bit over my head initially. This one is a great starter for learning tips and tricks for taking great photos (and not just for food, though that is what it is geared towards). An excellent primer for understanding your camera with basic tips for setting up and taking great shots. After reading this I was on my way to understanding the next book…
- Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots: This book goes into much more detail and depth on the subject of taking beautiful food shots. Again, you don’t need to be a food photographer to appreciate the insight you’ll gain on using your camera, setting up great shots, and taking and editing phots. This has been invaluable to my own growth as a blogger and amateur photographer. I am still learning from the book every day and every time I pick up my camera.
- Canon EOS Rebel T4i: My current camera. I’m in love. It does everything I need at this point and is a great (and reasonably priced) camera for newbie photographers wanting their first digital SLR camera.
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras: This is the number 1 recommended lens by food photographers, and after using it only three months I get why. It’s crisp and produces sharp and gorgeous shots.
- A Good Memory Card: If you’re going to be experimenting with photography you’ll need a good memory card. This is what I’ve been using and I have yet to fill it (and currently have over 2,000+ photos and videos still on it!). And ps, no photographer can have enough memory cards. Great stocking stuffers.
What about you? What are your favorite — can’t live without — wine, food, and travel items?