Welcome to the first ever RecipeTin Holiday Gift Guide! I think you’ll find some surprising items on this list, and most are easy on the wallet. I hope you find this useful!
Note: there are no affiliate links and I am not being paid nor do I have any association with the featured brands. These are all products I gift and use myself.
The 2023 RecipeTin Holiday Gift Guide
I accepted long ago that I’m not “normal” and it seems that extends to gift guides! So instead of aspirational wish-list gifts, I’m sharing a list of presents I have actually gifted in recent times. While some might seem a little unusual, all these have been received with enthusiasm and/or emotional appreciation (these are the best!) and most are not that expensive.
There are no candles, no tea towels, no hand creams, no $1,000 mohair throws.
So without further ado, I present to you the inaugural RecipeTin Holiday Gift Guide!
⭐️ 2023 Holiday Gift Guide ⭐️
1. Engraved Opinel No. 8 Pocket Knife (~$20)
Coming in at #1 is a French pocket knife, the best-all-rounder gift! Read below for why this takes out the top spot!
Why it’s on the list – It’s one of those gifts that prove you don’t need to spend stacks to give something meaningful that people genuinely love. It ticks a lot of boxes: distinct look, easy on the wallet (~$20), useful (cheese platter, paring knife), a very well known brand in France and most importantly, everybody loves it.
Validation – JB and I recently gave these as a thank you present to Support Chefs at the final Good Food & Wine Show in Brisbane. We personalised it by engraving their name on the blade, and the emotional thanks we received was the ultimate validation that this is a great gift for everyone, from ordinary foodies like me to professional chefs like them!
Where to get it – The Opinel Classic No. 8 pocket knife. Online on the Opinel store (free engraving) or here or here (Australia). For the US: order from the Opinel website (free engraving) or here on Amazon. It’s also sold at Le Petit Marché, my favourite French deli which is located in Newport (Sydney Northern Beaches) and I’ve seen it in other home stores. There are other sizes – smaller and larger – but the No. 8 is the classic size. Don’t forget to personalise it by engraving the blade! I just went to my local key cutter.
2. Mrs C’s Chilli Crisp ($25)
Coming in at second place – Mrs C’s Chilli Crisp, an ultra crunchy chilli paste made by an Australian family-run business that you will literally put on EVERYTHING! This is special stuff that you should reserve only for the most important people in your life – read on for why.
Why it’s worth gifting – Because it’s a really special Chilli Crisp you can’t get at any old regular grocery stores. Multiple times crunchier with better pure flavour (no artificial MSG edge) that you don’t find in factory mass-produced stuff. It’s superior to the world-wide favourite Lao Ganma (“Angry Aunty”) which is my grocery store go-to brand.
I eat it by the spoonful out of the jar, it’s that good. Try it once, and you’ll need to have this in your fridge for the rest of your life! I even contemplated not including this on the list – because I’m worried they will run out. I am not kidding.
Where to get it – See here for stockists around Australia but I order online. I get the Mrs C’s Apprentice Chilli Crisp (it’s mild so you can use lots!) or the OG if you like it fiery. They also have a Christmas Cracker Special with multiple jars (I nabbed a stack for Christmas presents). For those of you in the States, Momofuku’s Chili Crunch is a close second personal favourite.
3. Lodge Cast Iron Pan (A$60/US$20)
The only item on my Essential Kitchenware List that I’m including in this gift guide!
Why it’s on the list – Because it’s my most used cooking pan and I think it’s exceptional value for money at ~$73 compared to the $200+ you’ll pay for premium non-stick pans, particularly given the Lodge will last for decades. It’s basically indestructible – unlike non stick pans!
I love it because it goes from the stove to the oven (Mac & Cheese, steaks finished in the oven), it’s the only pan I use for high heat searing steaks, the high walls make it suitable for making saucy things like Chilli Con Carne, and it’s naturally non-stick.
Get it – Lodge 26cm / 10.25″ Cast Iron Pan . Get it online like here and here and here (Australian links) and here on Amazon US (discounted to $20 as of 23 November 2023). Note: Being a US product, it is much cheaper in the States. As for Australian made…. I have my eyes peeled. I”ve tried a few but am still on the hunt!
4. The gift of charity – $15+
This is a great idea for a gift for someone who doesn’t value material things – a gift of charity. Here are some that I have or am gifting this year to organisations we have connections with:
One Meal – The Give Hub – Based on the idea of a ‘reverse advent calendar’, participants fill a box with non-perishable food items. The boxes are then distributed to those in need through local registered charities and organisations. One Meal is the not-for-profit that distributions our RecipeTin Meals to those in need.
Ronald McDonald House – Gift Cards – RMCH offers accommodation to the families of children receiving lifesaving treatment at the Sydney Children’s Hospital. The families are 100km+ from their community and support systems, and in most cases the adults are unable to continue working whilst their child is undergoing treatment. Gift cards give them the ability to buy groceries and purchase presents for their family. Our team has special connections with RMCH and has done volunteer work on site including activities with the children and making dinner for the families.
Two Good Co Christmas Cracker – The proceeds of these Christmas Crackers gifts a cooked meal to women and children taking refuge in shelters here in Sydney, Australia. I have long since been an admirer of the founder Rob Caslick and the organisation he built to provide meals to and employment support for women in domestic violence shelters here in my home town. I also recently contributed a recipe to their cookbook “Change the Course” which is now available.
5. Cheese hamper (DIY $20+ or buy)
Here’s one that can cater to varying budgets and is something I do often: either a DIY mini cheeseboard platter, or a more extravagant cheese hamper that I give as “corporate” thank you gifts to special people (which I only get from Le Petit Marché, Sydney – they take online orders).
* See section below for what I put in my hampers, both DIY and purchased.
I particularly like putting together little DIY packs because I aim to include everything that someone will need to make a little cheeseboard. If budget permits, I even include the cheese board itself, like pictured above.
PURCHASED CHEESE HAMPERS
This is one of my go-to work gifts that I give as thank yous, celebrations etc. when I want to do something special. I like doing edible gifts rather than tangible things that may well just end up at the thrift store!
The only place I purchase cheese hampers is from a speciality French cheese store called Le Petit Marché in Newport (Sydney northern beaches), because I know it’s really good quality and that’s where I get my own cheeses for special occasions, and you can order online. I haven’t purchased cheese hampers from other places!
See below for my list of what I put in my hampers. The owner of Le Petit Marché, Benoit, is very, very French and knows his stuff, so I always defer to him for the best cheese recommendations. Also wines (they are good value, and brands you can’t get at chain liquor stores).
You can also call Le Petit Marché on 02 9446 2626 and just tell them you’d like a RecipeTin Hamper. Give Benoit a budget and he’ll know what to put in it, because I have a specific order of priority of what to use the budget for! Cheeses first, then crackers, then wine. Then everything else!
AUSTRALIAN MADE / DELIVERY HAMPERS
For locally sourced, two of my favourite cheese makers in Tasmania are doing Christmas hampers – Pyengana Dairy and Bruny Island. They deliver Australia-wide! I haven’t tried all the products in these Christmas hampers but I adore their cheeses (my favourites are listed below) and have ordered online (they arrived packed in ice!). In particular, the Pyengana 1kg aged Cheddar Truckle pictured above makes a great statement gift for cheese lovers!
As for wine? I’m currently mad for UMAMU Estate in WA, in particular their Rose (perfect for summer), JB highly rates their 2018 Chardonnay (this is special stuff), and the 2019 Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is excellent value for quality.
What I put in the cheese gift packs
In order of priority of what I spend my budget on:
Cheeses – One semi-hard cheese, one soft and one blue cheese – see below for personal favourites
Wine is next on my list. Because – cheese! And wine!
Optional extras: olives, dried fruit (apricots are a favourite), nuts, chocolate
Lower down my list: quince paste and other sweet spreads, pate, canned fish
Fancy it up: a cheese board, Opinel no 8 knife (see top of post)
Personal favourites cheeses:
Here are some of my favourite cheeses that I regularly get. To be honest, because I source my special occasion cheeses from Le Petit Marché, I often try new cheeses but stick with the general categories below. Brillat-Savarin is the one exception. I always, always get it!
Soft – Mellow, brie-style cheeses: Brillat-Savarin (incredible richer and oozier than brie French cheese); Fromager d’Affinois (great one that’s widely available at regular grocery stores these days), Woombye Ash Brie. Washed rind cheeses (more stinky!): Tasmanian Bruny Island 1792 (it’s pungent!), taleggio, epoisses (also pungent!).
Firm (semi-hard) – Comte 24-month aged, Pyengana Tasmanian cheddar (this cheese maker is a fine dining favourite) or other good vintage cheddar, gruyere, manchego, quality gouda, fontina, asiago.
Blue – Blue bries, gorgonzola piccante (my preferred) or gorgonzola dolce (milder), roquefort, Saint Agur, Stilton, King Island Roaring Forties Blue, Riverine Blue.
6. RecipeTin pantry start-up kit!
Here’s an idea for someone who’s starting out on their cooking journey – a RecipeTin pantry start-up kit! Gift a bundle of my 12 most common spices used for 800+ recipes on this website, or my 6 essential Asian sauces to make over 45 of my favourite Asian recipes.
Asian essentials starter pack
Light soy sauce
Dark soy sauce
Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine)
Sesame Oil (toasted)
See here for what to make with these spices.
Pantry start-up spice kit
Chilli flakes / red pepper flakes
See here for what I use these for.
My current DIY spice rack
I’m sharing details of my spice rack because I’ve received so many questions about it and I know I would be thrilled if someone made this for me!
I have 3 x these wooden spice racks (A$20 each) from Bunnings each of which hold 24 of these plastic jars from Kmart which fit perfectly (now $1 each, they were 50c when I got them 4 years ago 🤯). I got the rack when I moved in to my current place 8 months ago and it’s just leaning against the window – I can’t secure them because I’m in a rental. Also, I want them within immediate grabbing distance!
7. Food gifts!
There’s nothing like homemade! I have a handful that I make every Christmas, year after year. See the list below!
In order of my most-made, here are the food gifts I make year after year:
Holiday popcorn – Candied popcorn with Christmassy flavours and nuts! Very easy on the wallet, total holiday vibes, packages up nicely, keeps for ages and everybody loves it. Recipe here. Classic caramel popcorn is also high on the list.
Cookie mix in a jar – Dump it in a bowl, add egg and butter and voilà! Cookies ready to bake. 🙂 Recipe here.
Brownies – To be 100% honest, I make brownies a lot because they are a sure-fire hit with everyone and they are so darn easy to make. Cool then refrigerate to firm up so you can cut neat squares. They’ll become melt-in-your-mouth fudgey again at room temperature. Pile onto a plate, dust with icing sugar, wrap with cellophane, add a bow, gift! Recipe here.
Jar of ham glaze (FAST & CHEAP!) – Ready to use! Simmer it per the recipe, then pour into jars, let it cool, then seal it up with ribbon. Brush and bake! My signature is this Maple Ham Glaze and my classic is the Brown Sugar Glaze. Both last for weeks in the fridge and can be frozen. You could also print out the recipe and pop it in the envelope with the card.
Mini Christmas cakes! A new one coming to my website next week, this is a great one because the cake has a long shelf life, it’s easy to make, and one batch makes 16 gifts so it’s a lovely economical one that’s 100% on point for Christmas. 🙂 Preview in photo above.
Candied bacon popcorn – Caramel Popcorn with candied bits of bacon. In very high demand in my family and circle of friends. I usually spend a good chunk of Christmas Eve making a triple batch! Not yet published….I probably shouldn’t mention it. 😂
Rocky road – A classic one to gift! Endlessly versatile. I’ll slide a white Christmas version in the coming weeks. But, I typically make ordinary chocolate because I find many people find white chocolate too sweet.
Cookies don’t make my list because…well, shelf life! All that effort then they start degrading after a couple of days. I’d rather use my time on candied popcorn. 🙂
8. Essential kitchenware
I haven’t included any of my essential kitchenware in this list (other than my Lodge which is a special case) because some items are an investment (read: pricey) and many of them are practical but unglamorous. I feel like most people would be rather disappointed if they found a microplane under their Christmas tree! Whereas me – the year I received a meat thermometer, I was thrilled. 😂
But, for the serious cook, there are some gift-worthy items on this list ranging from my preferred dutch ovens, my dream food processor (and it isn’t even the most expensive!!), my can’t-live-without meat thermometer and a whole host of thoroughly un-sexy kitchen gadgets that seem totally boring but will change your life (like the only vegetable peeler I’ll ever have, and the best garlic press).
So, if you’re looking for investment pieces, have a browse of the full list here!
9. Bespoke gifting of “Dinner”
You know I couldn’t do a gift guide without including my cookbook! But here’s a suggestion to make it more meaningful – customise it with suggestions:
Gift the book with tags marking your favourite recipes, or flag recipe suggestions for the person you are gifting to. “Must make!” “You’ll LOVE this” “Freezer friendly”. “Super, super speedy”. “Kid approved!”
And there you have it! The very first RecipeTin holiday gift guide.
I hope it gave you some inspiration and perhaps some fresh ideas for what to get your favourite people for Christmas this year! – Nagi x
Life of Dozer
To this day, this is the best Christmas present he received. Throw back to the times he would steal just one shoe (never both). And his favourite were flip flops! So someone splurged at the thrift store and gifted one to Dozer. 😂