I used to agonize over what to get for those hard-to-buy-for folks on my list. Usually I fell back on generic “male” or “female” items; mom generally got that year’s popular perfume, and I don’t like to think of how many flashlights and work gloves my brother-in-law has unwrapped from me over the years. (Sorry, Mark.)

Then it occurred to me: everybody loves great food. Surveys have shown that as people are staying home more and managing budgets carefully, the popularity of foods and food-related gifts is at an all-time high. In fact, in 2021, $33 billion was spent on food gifts! That’s good enough for me; I plan to jump on the fabulous food train this year.

There are lots of pre-packaged options for food gifting, of course, but there’s plenty of room for creativity, too. Here are a few ideas if you’d like to give the gift of delicious!

1. Themed meal bundles: Create a dinner experience around a particular theme, such as …

Awesome Asian: Arrange a bamboo tray with a set of rice bowls, chopsticks, a box of fortune cookies and ingredients like rice, sesame oil, jarred ginger and Honey Teriyaki Sauce.

Fiesta Time: Fill a large sombrero with a taco shell holder, salsa bowl and foods like Corn, Black Bean Salsa and Mom’ Favorite Taco Seasoning; tuck in a set of margarita glasses and beverage mixer like the Cocktail Trio.

A Night in Tuscany: Fill a rustic basket with a red-checked tablecloth, a bottle of wine or sparkling grape juice, a selection of pastas (include both familiar varieties like spaghetti and more unusual types such as radiatore), a couple of bottled sauces or easy mixes (two to try: Mama Mia Marinara Sauce Mix, Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto Mix). Tuck in a wooden spoon and salad tongs.

Tip: Include one or two of your own favorite recipes that fit with your chosen theme.

Try this Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto Mix
Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto Mix

2. Lifestyle-oriented gifts. Create gifts that can make life easier and more fun. Examples:

Go-Getter gift. For someone who seems always to be on the run, pack a handy tote (I recommend the Get a Grip bag) with favorite beverages and travel-friendly snacks like Twisty Grahams®, mixed nuts, protein bars, etc. Include disinfectant wipes and a roll of paper towels or napkins.

Stress-Buster gift. Encourage someone to relax and pamper themselves once in a while! Choose a decorative box or bag (a good choice: Cool Tote with “Chill Out” embroidered on the front). Pack it with self-indulgent treats they might not buy for themselves: bath oil, a scented candle, cozy robe and comfort foods like the Fudge Gift Set, a jar of Creamy Caramel Sauce, maybe even a bottle of wine or Bloody Mary Mixer.

Just Starting Out gift. Recent college grads, newlyweds and anyone in a new space can use some kitchen essentials. Set them up for success with a selection of seasonings (the Seasonings Assortment fills the bill perfectly), a cutting board, casserole dish and a few items of bakeware like the Silicone Square Baking Pan, Large and Small Spatulas and a set of fun Pot Holders.

Share this Seasoning Assortment
Seasoning Assortment
Try this Silicone Square Baking Pan
Silicone Square Baking Pan
Try this Large Spatula
Large Spatula
Try these Pot Holders
Pot Holder Set of 2

3. Gifts You Can Share. Be part of the gift when you give something you’ve made yourself, like filling their freezer with a week of premade meals (check out Tastefully Simple’s meal kits for inspiration) or getting the family together for a cookie-baking “workshop.” The Holiday Baking Kit is a fun way to give the gift of homemade to enjoy throughout the holiday season.

There are so many ways to give DIY gifts that are thoughtful and delicious. Visit tastefullysimple.com for even more ideas!