Fare by Clare's Slightly Extra 2023 Holiday Gift Guide
It's been years since I put together my own holiday gift guide, but this year I have decided to bless you all with one. As a fierce critic of the annual Goop holiday gift guides, I figured it only makes sense for me to provide a reasonable alternative so I'm not just whining about something without taking action to make the world a better place. While it would be impossible to even come close to the level of insanity Goop achieves with their gift guides, I have included a few items here that are relatively extra and/or recommended with a slightly satirical tone.
Without further ado...
Fare By Clare's 2023 Holiday Gift Guide!
Gifts For Cooks and Foodies
As this is primarily a food-focused blog, I'll start with food and cooking-related items.
NOTE: As a food ~influencer~ I have an affiliate link for Food52, so items from there are affiliate links. That said, all these recommendations are my own opinions! At time of publication, I have made exactly $0 from said affiliate link. I do not take this seriously at all.
Sazon and Adobo from Illyanna Maisonet x Burlap and Barrel, $22.99 for the set or $11.99 each
This pair of classic Puerto Rican seasoning blends is delicious and versatile! I find myself reaching for them all the time, whether I’m cooking meat for tacos, making chili, roasting vegetables, or trying my hand at one of the gorgeous recipes in Maisonet’s cookbook, Diasporican (another great gift!). Goya, the producer of sazon that you’ll usually find at the grocery store, is super into Donald Trump so not supporting them is the icing on the cake! Burlap and Barrel also does a good job of ethical sourcing for their ingredients.
Nordicware Popcorn Popper, $7.99
You may know Nordicware for their bundt pans, but apparently they have also ventured into the microwave popcorn world! Don’t put the oil or butter in it before you microwave it or the bowl will melt. My husband learned this the hard way. However, when used correctly, it makes perfect homemade popcorn!
Cast Iron grill press,* $15
Perfect for grilled cheese, quesadillas, and searing meat.
Food52 x Dansk Kobenstyle saucepan,* $72-$140 depending on size
I love this pan because it heats up fast. It’s perfect for heating a couple servings of soup, melting butter, and boiling eggs. What makes it really special is that the lid doubles as a trivet! Some of my favorite culinary icons (Samin Nosrat and Illyanna Maisonet) also use this pan, making it extra cool. The color options are also fantastic.
Raclette Melter,* $199
AM I TURNING INTO GOOP? IS THIS ANNOYING? For what it’s worth, this is mostly a joke. But not entirely. (Disclaimer: I obviously don't own this item so I am not endorsing its quality. It actually has some pretty low reviews on Food52.) Anyway, this is perfect for channeling your inner Bourdain and Ripert in the Alps.
Epicurean composite cutting board, prices vary
Easy to clean! Good for your knives! Aesthetically pleasing! Dishwasher safe! Made in Superior, Wisconsin! Comes in lots of shapes and sizes! Pro tip: If you live in the Twin Cities, visit Eversharp in Northeast Minneapolis to buy Epicurean boards. They carry slightly flawed factory seconds at discounted prices (and you usually can’t even tell they are flawed).
I'm often underwhelmed by store-bought sauces and marinades - they tend to have weird sweetness or bitterness from whatever preservation processes they go through. The sauces from Omsom have been a very pleasant and surprising contradiction to that! These are bangers and the flavors are spot on. They're also really versatile. You can use them to marinate meat or veggies, as a noodle sauce, as a glaze, or any number of other applications. One of my favorite flavors is the lemongrass BBQ.
Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans, $6.25-$7.50/lb
This year I was honored to receive an invitation to join the infamous Rancho Gordo Bean Club. This is a great article that will make you want to try these beans (it's what motivated me to get on the Bean Club waiting list years ago).
Jay Jay's Jams and Such, prices vary
Jay Jay's Jams and Such makes a wide range of delicious jams (my favorite is the seriously spicy Habanero) and salsas. You can find them at various holiday pop-ups and farmers markets in the Twin Cities. Follow them on Instagram for more information about where they'll be this winter.
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat, $34.88
My OG “how to cook” book which taught me most of what I know.
Start Here by Sohla El-Waylly, $41.85
My new G “how to cook” book which is teaching me even more AND includes weight measurements for eggs so you don’t have to try to figure out how many medium eggs are equal to one extra large egg. Also, Samin Nosrat wrote the forward.
Company: The Radically Casual Art of Cooking for Others by Amy Thielen, $37.20
A beautiful cookbook/guide to hosting that's organized into menus and dinner party concepts by theme and size of the party rather than by type of dish. There's also a ton of beautifully-written narrative with personal stories and helpful information about how to be a wonderful host. The "invisible vinaigrette" recipe in this book is a game-changer.
Gifts for the Home
As an aspiring stay-at-home-housewife (but in a feminist way), I love making my home beautiful and efficient.
Modern Sprout Growframe*, $219-289
Ok, yes this is another absurd thing. But I kind of love it and want one. You can mount it on your wall and grow flowers, herbs, or other plants through the dark winter! And it's way more aesthetically pleasing than other grow light set-ups.
Art prints from OnibabaStudio, prices vary
Cori makes beautiful watercolor prints that are often food-focused. One of my favorites is this one that celebrates the many wonderful foods to be found along Lake Street in Minneapolis.
Sam's Woodshop custom woodwork, prices vary
Sam can make anything from a cutting board to a wedding chuppah that becomes a bench! Oh, and also whole ass boats.
Soap Daddy, $12.99
This two-in-one soap dispenser is a game changer. It's designed for dish soap, but I've been using them for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash with great success. The top has a press-down dispenser, where you press a sponge (or loofah/washcloth) on it and it dispenses soap up onto the sponge. The bottom has a squeeze dispenser, where you just squeeze the bottle and soap comes out (and it stays leak-free still!) It's great for things like conditioner where it's hard to get the last bits out of a regular squeeze bottle and you have to keep turning the bottle upside down. This tiktok explains it better. I love this thing.
Gifts that will Save Your Marriage
Pillow Speaker, $19.59
Do you require the dulcet tones of Jim Dale reading the entire Harry Potter book series to you over and over and over in order to fall asleep? Do you refuse to use headphones because they uncomfortable to sleep with? Do you listen to said audiobooks on a 2009 iPod classic that contains the audiobooks you downloaded from the library so as not to give money to noted TERF J.K. Rowling, and thus you need to amplify it using an old-fashioned aux cord rather than bluetooth? Do you refuse to listen to it on your phone because it doesn't have a convenient sleep timer? Does your partner find it impossible to fall asleep while listening to Harry Potter because they get too invested in the story? If so, this product will save your marriage! The speaker tucks under your pillow and sends the music right into your ears and not to your partner's ears. Perhaps this is just a personal problem.
Gifts For Men
I've kept this list very simple as men are simple beings who prefer things that fit into a few specific categories:
MEAT: Meat CSA from Sunshine Harvest Farm, $430-$850 (I have not gotten their meat CSA but we get eggs from them and they're wonderful!)
WHISKEY: Go to France 44 and ask the experts; I don't know what to recommend.
GOLF: Beret, $23.82. I know nothing about golf, but this seems appropriate.
SPICY: Marie Sharp's Original Hot Pepper Sauce, $6.50 for 5 oz.
GRILL: Green Egg Christmas Ornament, $34.95, because he will be really struggling through the winter season finding ways to talk about his Green Egg when it's not grilling season
WATCH: Casio CA506G-9AVT, $69.95. A hilarious item at a nice price point.
Note: While this section is mostly satire, the items I have linked may actually make great gifts for people of any gender and I do stand behind them. This statement applies especially to the beret and not at all to the green egg ornament.
Gifts For a White Elephant Party
See what I did there?
Gifts For the Fashionista and/or Maxxinista
Monaco Grand Prix T-Shirt, $29.99
Wearable art illustrating the Monaco Grand Prix racetrack - and if you’re not into Monaco, check out their other designs featuring Miami, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Austin, Monza, Singapore, and Suzuka!
I’m obsessed with this thing. So ridiculous, but so enticing. (Disclaimer: I don't actually own this, although I would like to. I can't speak to its quality, but I do trust Martha deeply.)
Merino Wool Hiking Socks, $39.90 for three pairs
These are the softest socks I’ve ever worn and they are incredibly warm too. If you want to buy these, send me your email and I can give you a referral where you’ll get $20 off a $50+ purchase.
Full Kirkland Signature Outfit, prices vary
My recommendation for a full Kirkland Signature outfit includes the following items, but feel free to mix and match with the full Kirkland Signature clothing lineup! The quality is unmatched. Note that Costco is constantly releasing new Kirkland Signature logo items so while some of these are low in stock, they'll probably roll out new things soon. (Note that the slides pictured are no longer in stock.)
1) Sweatpants, $11.99
2) Crew Neck Sweatshirt, $21.00
3) Shearling Boot, $32.99
4) Logo Hat, $17.99 for a two-pack
Gifts For Travelers
If you've talked to me for more than three minutes, you know I love TSA PreCheck/Global Entry and I HATE Clear. I won't get into it about my hatred for Clear in this gift guide, but suffice it to say that TSA PreCheck/Global Entry is the way to go (in my opinion). If you travel internationally, get Global Entry (which includes PreCheck). If you travel mostly in the U.S., just get PreCheck.
Travel Fan, $15.99
This is great if you are in a stuff hotel room or if you need white noise to sleep. It plugs in to a USB and is tiny enough to be easily packed.
Airplane Foot Hammock, $14.99
Disclaimer: I've never used one of these but I really want one. Because I have little legs, my feet don't rest nicely on the floor of the airplane and I'd love to snuggle them up in this cozy hammock.
Travel Bottle Covers, $6.99 for 8
These look like stupid little condoms for your bottles, but they really do help prevent leaks!!
Phone Holder, $13.99
This nifty phone holder can prop up your phone at a variety of angles for TV viewing on an airplane. My favorite way to set it up is to clip it onto the closed tray table, but you can also prop it up on any flat surface or clip it to various perches. Many versatile options for avid TV watchers like myself!
These aren't the cheapest packing cubes you can find, but these are the ones I have and love. The zippers are strong, allowing you to really shove a lot into a single cube. They are also mesh on the top so you can see what is inside and they come in cute colors. I also got some much cheaper packing cubes from Ikea but was disappointed because the zippers only allow the cubes to open up about halfway on the diagonal, making it difficult to pack. Away is also known for their quality, which I can attest to - I've used my set many many times and definitely overfilled them and they are still going strong.