Holiday Gift Guide – 2020 The COVID Edition

The Holiday Season is going to be very different this year. Thinking of having a Holiday open house? Fuggetaboutit. Holiday office party? Nixed. Traveling to be with family? Do it at your own peril. I am expecting the remainder of 2020 to be more of the same. Because many people are staying home as much as possible, all but one of the following gifts can be ordered and shipped, so you can shop in your PJ’s.

Let’s be honest 2020 has sucked

A. LOT. It has been one stress inducing thing after another. To help blow away the Holiday Blues that COVID has brought, this is my annual Holiday Gift List, just in time for Cyber Monday. This year, nothing on the list is a splurge. Every item is under $75 each. In fact, you could buy one of everything on this list for under $200. Because we have all been cooking at home more than in the past, this year’s list features the things that I have found useful, entertaining, been obsessed with, or would like to have for myself again. When possible I have shared links to small stores, local stores, or the manufacturers rather than the “big box” retailers. COVID has hit the small business owners harder than ever, support them when you can.

This Cookbook

Right now I am obsessed with Chinese cooking. In particular, THIS book, all about wok cooking. There is something totally meditative about the required prep work that makes this style of cooking great for tuning out stress and tuning into the here and now for me. The author was kind enough to get on a Zoom call with my cookbook club and she is just as amazing as the book itself. The recipes themselves cook up FAST – most in under 10 minutes – the prep is the step that takes the time. Bonus – true wok cooking uses very little oil, so it’s a healthier option in many ways. $35 – available at The Writer’s Block (they ship too).

Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge – my fave cookbook purchased all year

Now that you have the book…

To make the above book the perfect gift, pick up this wok set. It has everything you need to get started. It’s the perfect gift for the budding cook, a cook dipping their toes into Chinese cooking waters (like me), or the experienced cook who needs an upgrade. I am obsessed with this pan. I am using it as much as possible to get a great seasoning on it (think cast iron). Of course, the woks are available individually as well. Per Grace Young‘s recommendation, get the flat bottomed vs. the round bottomed. I also suggest you add the flax seed oil to your order for seasoning. BONUS – the carbon steel woks are made in the USA! The wok comes with complete instructions for seasoning like a pro. $60 (HOLIDAY SPECIAL) – The Wok Shop, San Francisco.

The kit makes a great “get started now!” Holiday gift, but if you’re buying for someone who already has decent cookware, just pick up the wok itself. Photo from The Wok Shop

Grow Your Own Holiday Magic

For the cook you know that has a green thumb OR wants to try their hand at something new, get a mushroom growing kit. I was gifted one years ago by Friend Rev Kane (Ministry of Happiness) and I LOVED it! ‘Shrooms are easy to grow and if there are kids in the house, they’ll get a kick out of it too. Try Sundown Mushrooms right here in the Vegas valley to support a small company. Various varieties at $33 with free shipping.

This variety is called Blue Oyster, but there are others available. Photo from Sundown Mushrooms website

Small Batches and Limited Editions

I am a sucker for anything that is “small batch”, “limited edition”, “only available for a limited time” and so on. These sauces by Artful Saucier make the perfect Holiday gift for that saucy as hell friend or family member. Made with love by dear Friend Gemini, each is a complete and total flavor bomb. Available online only at this time and a great way to support a small business. Starting at $10. Sign up for the newsletter so you know when new batches are available and when there is a sale!

A sampling of the small batch sauces available from Artful Saucier. Photo from their website.

And THIS Holiday Ornament Sums it Up

A little humor goes a long way in 2020. Especially when it is spot on AND is decorative. Find this ornament and others like it on Etsy. I seriously think everyone on my Holiday gift list may be getting one of these. #Fuck2020

Photo from the linked seller’s site on Etsy

Everyone Needs this…Yes, REALLY

The Hubs found this by accident one day while on a mission to Total Wine after we had come back from a European River Cruise. It is perfect in tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and utterly delicious on ice cream. Of course this is not for the kids, or anyone who abstains from alcohol. This is one of those things you MUST buy when you see it in the store because they don’t ship it, and it is in limited quantities. When you see it, buy 2. One for you, one for a friend. If you have ever had a Stroopwaffel, you KNOW how delish they are, so wrap your head around your fave hot beverage tasting like all of that goodness…yeah, that. If you have never had a Stroopwaffel, it’s everything you ever dreamed of in a waffle, a cookie, and caramel rolled into one delightful mouthful. Van Meers Stroopwaffel liqueur $13 from Total Wine.

Photo from Total Wine website.

The Holiday Gift that Keeps on Giving

December 1st is Giving Tuesday – Make a donation to your loved one’s favorite charity in their name. My suggestion is to always choose something local to their community or a local chapter of a national organization.

What to Get Me

In case you didn’t know, I started teaching my sister Nancy to cook via online videos. One camera, one take, no editing. Some are better than others, quality wise, as you can guess. As a gift to me, subscribe to my YouTube channel (and watch the cooking videos) and/or my blog (there’s a place for your address at the bottom, and NO I don’t share your info). Follow me on Instagram and Facebook. And once you do, comment and interact with me. It makes my day so much more interesting than just seeing “likes”.