Holiday Gift Guide 2019

For all the readers and eaters in your life, herewith the ninth (!) annual Dinner: A Love Story gift guide. As in past years, I’m focusing mostly on food and books, and would love to hear ideas from you as well, if you’re so inclined. Happy shopping everyone!

Nothing to See Here (by Kevin Wilson, $23). I finished this last week, but from page one I knew it was my book of the year. A twenty-something screw-up is asked by an old friend to become the governess to the friend’s stepchildren…who spontaneously burst into flames. THAT IS THE PLOT and you don’t not believe the conceit for one second. Heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, it’s perfect.

Ceramic Platter (Heath, $110) My friend Kristin showed up to my house for dinner this fall with an olive oil cake presented on this bright red serving platter and I knew in that moment what was number one on my splurge list for Santa. Like most of the pieces from the 75-year-old company, it’s pricey but timeless. You never have to worry about it going out of style.

Just Mercy (Bryan Stephenson) If you haven’t already read this, please do so before you see the movie coming out in January. Written in 2014 by the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, it’s about one man’s mission to free innocent men from Death Row in Alabama — the state with the highest execution rate in the country. Give to your teenager or best friend if you want to explain what it means to live a meaningful life. It has the power to rearrange someone’s moral universe.

Reusable Drinking Straws ($8) for stocking stuffers. My Greta Thunberg-revering teenagers don’t leave home without them.

The Jewish Cookbook (Leah Koenig, $50) Includes hundred recipes for classic Jewish home-cooked cuisine and all its iterations around the world.

Gold Scissor Tongs (Crate & Barrel, $11) Every time I have people over for dinner, I realize I’m short on serving utensils. Last time that happened I actually did something about it and bought myself a pair of these beauties. Now I want to give them to all my party host friends.

Mask Sheet Set (10 for $11) The price is right and I love the packaging here. I brought the set to a weekend away with college friends (the Hannibal Lecter photo opp never gets old) and periodically pick up a few sets for my daughters’ friends for easy birthday gifts.

Homemade Treats Wrap up a batch or two of holiday cookies (these Thin Mint inspired black-and-white cookies are from Bon Appetit) in simple boxes or bags. Even better, pick four or five different cookies, and make a baking day of it with your kids this weekend. Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups would be another wise choice.

Local Treats If you’re heading out of town and need a host gift, pick up a few things at your farm market or local specialty store that best represent your region. Remember: what’s everyday to you is always special to someone else, I promise. (These are goodies I picked up at the co-op in Middlebury, VT, hence all the cheese) Maybe even gift them in a cute tote.

Baking Subscription (Foodstirs, $25-100) Depending on your subscription, every other month, your aspiring little baker receives a project kit with all the ingredients necessary to bake and decorate something adorable (Unicorn Cupcakes anyone?) Yes, you could probably assemble your own baking kit for a lot less money, but the fun part here, especially for kids, is the anticipation of the kit’s arrival and theme in the mail. OR….

…just pick up a Cake Decorating Kit ($25) and follow any of the recipes in FoodStirs’ comprehensively cute archive.

Essential Ottolenghi (by Yotam Ottolenghi, $31) Needless to say I’ve been drilling deep on my Ottolenghi books ever since vowing to go more plant-based. This is a box set of his last two books (Ottolenghi Simple and Plenty More) perfect for your friend who might be heading in the same direction, or your friend who, you know, likes to live and eat well.

Botanical Screen Print (Jen Kindell, $145) I’m a big fan of getting gifts for Andy that are really gifts for the whole family — this one falls in that category: Beautiful hand-printed botanicals from a California-based artist. How pretty would her strawberry (or chard or lemon or herbs) look in a food-lover’s kitchen?

A Book Inspired Gift Kit My talented friend Jodi, she of Supermakeit, dedicated her gift guide this year to books she loves, packaged with ingredients or gear needed to execute a recipe or activity inside. Here’s her take on one for my last book, How to Celebrate Everything, but there are four more kits over on her site to check out! So smart, so thoughtful.

P.S. DALS gift guides through the years:

Gift Guide 2018
Gift Guide 2017
Gift Guide 2016
Gift Guide 2015
Gift Guide 2014
Gift Guide 2013
Gift Guide 2012
Gift Guide 2011

Happy Holidays Everyone!

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Love the gift kit idea – perfect for house warming, birthdays and bridal showers as well!!!


Jenny, happy new year! I got an instant pot from my husband for Christmas. I already got a burn notice on my first time out of the gate, but I’m forging ahead with another IP meal tonight. Anytime you’re wanting to post your own, or give us a link to some good instant pot recipes, please do in future episodes of DALS. Also, when the heck is your book coming out?