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Gourmet Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Food Lovers

Just about everybody loves gifts of food. You can easily put together inexpensive gifts tailor made to the tastes of their recipients, shopping for fun, delicious gourmet items that show more personal thought than any ready-made presents possibly could.

Start by lining a basket (found in housewares stores, crafts shops, or import chains like Pier One or Cost Plus) with a colorful dishtowel or napkin that you also select to go with the basket’s theme. Then fill the basket with an assortment of edible treats and related cookware or accessories. If you want to be really lavish and the basket is big enough, throw in one of the best cookbooks now available. (And, if you don’t have much time, consider doing all your shopping in the supermarket for a last minute gift!)

Try one of the following themed gift basket ideas:

Candy-Lover’s Basket

Gift recipients with a sweet tooth will welcome a beautiful assortment that might include old-fashioned candy shop treats along with gourmet confections, including:

  • Assorted gourmet dipped chocolates
  • Classic candy bars
  • Gummy bears
  • Candy canes
  • Gourmet gum drops such as Jelly Belly
  • Cinnamon-flavored candies such as Hot Tamales or Red Hots
  • Old-fashioned English-style Licorice Allsorts
  • Old-fashioned hard candies
  • Pez candies and Pez dispensers
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste!

Chili-Lover’s Basket

Those with a taste for hot spice can’t get enough of it. Satisfy their cravings with familiar and unusual sources of hot chili flavor, such as:

  • Small bottles of hot chili sauces, including Tabasco sauce, Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula, and habanero hot sauce
  • Bottles of good-quality hot salsa
  • Assorted packages of dried chilies for cooking
  • Packets of gourmet chili con carne seasoning mixes
  • Chili-flavored chocolates (look in gourmet stores)
  • Chili cookbook
  • Bottles of Mexican beer
  • Packets of Alka-Seltzer

Chinese Food-Lover’s Basket

Whether your giftee loves to eat takout or cook from scratch, good-quality Chinese food ingredients and accessories are always welcome, including:

  • Good-quality imported soy sauce
  • Bottled Hoisin sauce
  • Bottled plum sauce
  • Chinese rice
  • Chinese tea
  • Fortune cookies (even though they’re an American invention!)
  • Bamboo steamer basket
  • Wok spatula
  • Chopsticks
  • Ceramic chopstick rests
  • Bottles of Tsingtao beer
  • Chinese cookbook

Chocoholic’s Basket

Yes, chocolate can be an addiction. So keep that chocolate lover sane with an assortment of treats like:

  • Imported high-quality chocolate bars
  • Box of cocoa nibs
  • Small box of chocolate truffles
  • Gourmet chocolate-dipped candied fruits
  • Bags of holiday-colored M&Ms
  • A handful of Hershey’s Kisses
  • Instant cocoa mixes
  • Hot chocolate mug
  • Jar or can of hot fudge sauce
  • Small chocolate cookbook

Cocktail-Lover’s Basket

Cocktails and cocktail entertaining at home are enjoying a resurgence these days, so recipients are sure to appreciate such items as:

  • Good quality cocktail mixers
  • Martini glasses
  • Highball glasses
  • Margarita salt
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Jigger
  • Cocktail toothpicks
  • Bar snacks: canned nuts, gourmet crackers or pretzels, etc.
  • Bottle of good-quality gin, vodka, or whiskey
  • Bar guide or cocktail recipe book

Coffee-Lover’s Basket

Your gift recipient will remember and thank you every morning, afternoon, or evening after brewing up a cup while enjoying accessories and treats that include:

  • Gourmet coffee beans
  • Coffee mugs
  • Coffee spoons
  • French-press coffee pot
  • Coffee grinder
  • Small bottles of flavored coffee syrups
  • Chocolates to enjoy with coffee
  • Small book about coffee (or print out and include a set of simple guidelines on how to brew the perfect cup of coffee)

Cookie-Lover’s Basket

Who can’t resist a delicious nibble with coffee or tea or as a snack or dessert on its own? Keep your recipient’s particular favorites in mind as you choose from:

  • Small boxes or packets of imported cookies
  • Small boxes or packets of classic cookies such as Oreos
  • Individually wrapped gourmet brownies
  • Individually wrapped biscotti
  • Gift certificate for Mrs. Field’s Cookies
  • Special glass chosen for drinking milk
  • Small cookie cookbook

Fruit-Lover’s Basket

Nature’s bounty provides the perfect way to put together a special gift basket for health-conscious eaters. Select the basket’s contents from such seasonal options as:

  • Assorted fresh seasonal fruit
  • Nuts in the shell or cans of fine imported nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Small book about seasonal fruit

Grilling Basket

While the outdoor grill is supposedly a man’s realm, women love grilling, too. Keep either sex in mind when you put together the contents of a basket for grill cooks, including items such as:

  • Marinade mixes or bottled marinades
  • Grill rubs or seasoning blends
  • Bottled barbecue sauces
  • Cajun-style blackening spices
  • Kebab skewers
  • Long-handled grill tools: basting brush, spatula, fork, tongs
  • Instant-read grilling thermometer
  • Heat-resistant grilling glove
  • Hickory chips or other wood chips or dried herbs for smoking
  • Smoke box to hold wood chips in the grill fire bed
  • Small grilling cookbook

Indian Food-Lover’s Basket

The fragrant, spicy, complex cuisines of the Indian subcontinent are inspiring more and more home cooks. Look for a well-stocked supermarket or area ethnic shop to buy:

  • Basmati rice
  • Dried lentils
  • Garam masala or curry powder
  • Box of papadums
  • Bottles of assorted chutneys
  • Bottles of imported Indian beer
  • Jar of ghee

Japanese Food-Lover’s Basket

Lovers of Japanese cuisine regard it rightly as one of the world’s most refined culinary arts. Think of this basket as a Asian artist’s palette, composing it from such items as:

  • Small bottle of good-quality soy sauce
  • Small bottle of mirin
  • Tempura batter mix
  • Miso soup mix or miso paste
  • Dried soba noodles
  • Japanese rice
  • Bag of seaweed crackers
  • Japanese tea
  • Japanese candies
  • Chopsticks
  • Ceramic or wooden chopstick rests
  • Small Japanese cookbook

Tea-Lover’s Basket

Tea in its many forms soothes, sustains, and inspires those who love it. Keep in mind every aspect of brewing and enjoying tea as you select the basket’s contents from elements that include:

  • Small packets of assorted teas in bags
  • Small tins of assorted loose tea leaves
  • Individual-cup tea ball or infusing spoon
  • Small single-serving teapot
  • Teacup and saucer or tea mug
  • Ceramic spoon rest
  • Small packets of classic tea cookies
  • Small package of teatime scones
  • Box of scone mix
  • Small jars of jams or preserves
  • Small book about tea

Wine-Lover’s Basket

In the world of food and drink, nothing excites greater connoisseurship than wine. Delight your own connoisseur with an assortment drawn from such options as:

  • Bottle of good-quality red wine
  • Bottle of good-quality white wine
  • Bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Good-quality cheese to complement the wine
  • Good-quality wine glasses
  • Good-quality Champagne flutes
  • Corkscrew
  • Small wine book

Or dream up your own basket. Then, just add a pretty bow or ribbon and your food gift basket is ready to give!