By Geraldine Campbell
One of my favorite gifting tips comes from my friend Lisa (well, really Instagram). She recommends sending $5 (via Venmo or Zelle Quick Pay or whatever) to your friends to spend on a fancy coffee or tea or chocolate bar or whatever as a little something to brighten up your day. I am a big believer in this practice in particular, but also in the small gift in general. A gift doesn’t have to be big or expensive to be special! Case in point? These affordable stocking stuffers. They’re salty and sweet; for bakers and people who prefer to be baked for; for coffee-lovers and chocolate-fiends. In short, there’s something for everyone on your list — and they’re all less than $20.
1. Grounds & Hounds Coffee, from $17
For the coffee lover in your life: They get to enjoy great coffee and save a pup — what could be better? For every purchase of small-batch coffee, 20 percent of the profits go to animal rescue organizations all over the United States. So far, profits from Grounds & Hounds have provided more than 2 million shelter meals, 8,500 toys, 2,000 microchips and more in partnership with 375 rescue organizations.
2. Love with Food Snack Box, from $8
Help your favorite nosher discover fun, healthy snacks, and feed families in need at the same time. For as little as $8, Love with Food will send one box (or you can spring for a monthly subscription) with anywhere from 7 to 15+ curated snacks to your friend or loved one. Everything in the box is free of high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial flavorings and colorings, and hydrogenated oils. There’s even a box containing all gluten-free snacks. For every box you buy, Love with Food donates the cash equivalent of a meal to food banks all over the U.S.; so far the company has donated more an a million meals.
This is a gift that keeps on giving (as long as it’s fed and cared for). Get this for anyone who was feeling left out during The Great Sourdough Surge of 2020. (It’s bound to strike again in 2021.) The hard part has already been done for them and, if there’s anyone we trust to make a great starter, it’s the folks at King Arthur Baking Co.
More mini tart than cookie, these 3-inch-wide, ½-inch-deep treats are rich and buttery, soft and crumbly, a little bit chewy, and filled with thick, tart raspberry jam. Think linzer cookies, but bigger and better. Costco debuted this new bakery item last spring and it immediately gained a massive cult following. According to a Costco bakery worker posting on Reddit, the cookies were supposed to be seasonal, which makes sense: They have that Easter brunch kind of vibe. But the response has been so overwhelming, the bakery is still cranking them out today — if you can find them. They have a tendency to sell out fast.
5. Seed and Mill Organic Tahini, $10
Determined to show Americans just how great tahini and halva could be, the three co-founders of Seed + Mill (Rachel Simons, Lisa Mendelson, and Monica Molenaar) started off with a small kiosk in New York City’s Chelsea Market. Fast forward four years and their tahini has quite the fan base and gets shipped all over the country. What sets their tahini apart from other store-bought tahini? It’s so creamy, it doesn’t even really need to be stirred before it’s used. Get this for anyone on your list who loves a smoothie, salad, grain bowl, or roasted veggie.
P.S. We also love Seed and Mill’s Halva Trio. Gift all three to one lucky person or spread the love.
6. Endangered Species Chocolate Bars, $12 for 4 bars
With organic, high-quality chocolate bars in flavors like Caramel Sea Salt and Oat Milk Rice Crisp—plus holiday specials like Peppermint Crunch and Caramel Spiced Apple—there’s something for every taste. All the bars are gluten free, made without additives or fillers, and include carefully sourced ingredients like pink Himalayan salt, U.S.-grown peanuts and fruit, and fair trade cinnamon and vanilla. Ten percent of the company’s annual profits go toward conservation organizations around the world; so far they’ve given more than $2.6 million, which has gone to planting trees, protecting and restoring animal habitats, and more.
Treat your favorite early riser to the best breakfasts she’s had all year. This honey is a blend of liquid gold from the United States and a salt brine! We love it on buttered toast or a bowl of warm oatmeal. Beyond breakfast, it also works on goat cheese, a fruit cobbler, or even a mound of vanilla ice cream.
Aged in a bourbon barrel, this syrup goes from one-note sweetness to something far richer and almost buttery, with fragrant hints of vanilla and oak. It’s incredible on yeasted waffles, but also makes pancakes from a mix seem special. But don’t stop at breakfast. It goes well with yogurt, ice cream, roasted squash. In fact, you’d be wise to pick up two bottles — and keep one all to yourself.
Spices from Spicewalla are always fresh, small batch, and sourced directly from quality suppliers. These stocking stuffers feels extra special because you can pick out three spices based on whomever you’re shopping for. For example, a kit for a baker could have cinnamon, whole cloves, and ginger. Or a kit for someone in charge of weeknight dinners could have chili powder, oregano, and paprika.
10. Kirkland Signature Marcona Almonds, $18
If you’re not already familiar with the delights of Spanish Marcona almonds, they’re crispier, crunchier and more oily than regular almonds. They’re also a lot more expensive, making them ideal for a tiny luxury to gift someone else, or to fancy up your afternoon snack. A little pile alongside a peeled clementine and a few slices of nutty cheese and a cheese plate suddenly feels like a cheeseboard.