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Veteran food writer Amanda Hesser is one of the geniuses behind Provisions, the carefully curated online storefront at her site Food52. Here, she tells F&W how she chooses the shop's fantastic items and names 10 of her favorites to give as holiday gifts.
I was born with a peculiar gene that makes me a tireless gift shopper. If I'm out shopping, I need to look in every store and stall to make sure I haven't missed anything, and I will keep going until I find just the right gift. This means that pretty much no one wants to shop with me, but pretty much everyone likes having me as a Secret Santa. I enjoy giving gifts that evoke both comfort and surprise. The ideal gift is something the recipients will like and use, but probably wouldn't have found on their own. A really perfect gift is one that the gift-getters can't believe they ever lived without.
When looking for products for our kitchen and home shop, Provisions, my cofounder, Merrill Stubbs, and I aim to apply the same criteria. Here are 10 of my favorite practical-yet-surprising-yet-indispensible items:
1. Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper. It has a whimsical design and can be enjoyed by everyone in the family from children to grandparents.
2. CakeBox. Cakes should travel in style, and yet this is the kind of item you might not buy for yourself. Be a good citizen and give it to the best baker you know!
3. Bee's Bread Wrap. Inventive stocking stuffer alert! This is a better way to wrap bread than in paper or plastic, and more environmentally sound.
4. DIY Hard Cider Kit. Homemade cider is more original than homemade beer, and who doesn't enjoy a little bootlegging?
5. Mosser Glass Bowls. These nod to vintage mixing bowls without being over-the-top nostalgic; and they're pretty enough to use as serving bowls.
6. French Ceramic Butter Keeper. This ceramic dish allows you to keep butter fresh at room temperature.
7. Copper Moscow Mule Mug. It's pretty enough that even if it's never used for cocktails, it can work as a handsome vase.
8. Pie for Two Plate. There aren't enough good pie plates in the world, and this one is made by hand. It's bound to be passed down for at least a generation or two.
9. Short Stack Volumes 1-3. These volumes are gorgeously designed and are more memorable than a cookbook.
10. Colander Tea Towel. No one buys good tea towels for themselves; good cooks appreciate someone splurging on their behalf.