My mother was a much better gift-giver than I am. She was an impractical gifter – part of her charm – and she had a motto about gifts: A gift should be something you wouldn’t buy for yourself. I think I must have been channeling my mom when, many years ago, I bought Michael a pair of stupidly expensive suspenders. They were pink. When he returned them, the salesman took one look at Michael and one look at the suspenders and said, “I think you should tell your wife to get a grip.” He got power tools and socks from then on. Happily, he likes power tools and always needs socks.
Me? Whether or not I need them, I always like kitchen tools. Another spatula? Delighted. More kitchen towels? Love ’em. Baking pans? Yes, please. The simplest gadget or the most basic pan is all it takes to make me happy.
Because we all love beautiful things and treasure what's practical and works well, I decided to make a holiday gift list that includes things that follow mom's motto and some that don't - meaning there are bunches of things you just might want to buy for yourself. Yes, you're allowed to be your own gift-giving elf.
I hope you love this list and I hope you'll be a pal and let us know what’s on your list – ‘tis the season when we all need ideas.
I’ll be back on Friday with ideas for chocolate lovers, Francophiles, condiment crazies and armchair – or kitchen counter – travelers.
p.s. if you're enjoying this, I hope you'll subscribe to my free newsletter. And tell your friends, too!
The most beautiful: Farmhouse Pottery Pantry Mixing Bowl Set ($315 from Food 52)
Mom would say: Darling, I know they’re a little heavy, but look at how beautiful they are. And when you’re not baking, you can use them for fruit or salad or M&Ms. (Mom knows me.)
I’d say: Mom’s right. And I’d love to have these - I loved using them in the ALL DAY DORIE videos I did with Food 52. But until I get them as a gift, I’ll be pulling out towers of stacking stainless and glass bowls.
The very practical:
Perfect and practical: Gray Kunz 2 Piece Spoon Set ($38 from JB Prince)
Mom would say: They’re not my style and they really look too practical for a gift, but this one is a set, so it seems giftier. They’re useful, I’m sure.
I’d say: Mom’s right – they’re so useful! I love these spoons and I’ve given them as gifts. Ever since my friend, Priscilla Martel, told me about these, I’ve been buying them in pairs and quartets - I've collected almost all of them and use them all the time. They may not look so special, but once you start using them, when you see how well balanced they are and how the bowls and slots are so well considered, you’ll love them. They were designed by the legendary chef, Gray Kunz, whose creativity and precision were admired around the globe.
The gorgeousest: Porcelain Slab Pan ($79 from Made In)
Mom would say: I thought you’d love the red line around it.
I’d say: Mom’s right. And I wouldn’t tell her that I’ve already got this pan. And I probably wouldn’t tell her that it was designed by the phenomenal baker Nancy Silverton because she wouldn’t know or care. But bakers like us know and care. Silverton designed the pan to be used for big, family-size slab pies (I used it to make the Double-Pear Picnic Pie from BAKING WITH DORIE), but it’s also good for crisps and crumbles and low-slung lasagnas.
The everyday dependables:
Of course, you can make slab pies in quarter-sheet pans.
Or in the kind of Pyrex or metal pans you’d use for brownies.
The craftiest: Stoneware Pottery Pie Pan ($34 from Bennington Potters)
Mom would say: As soon as I saw it, I thought you’d want it for apple pie. Don’t you think an apple pie would look good in it? And you know how much your father loves apple pie.
I’d say: Mom’s right. Pies look so good in pottery – the pan makes pie, which starts out alluring and homey, an even more comforting dish. I’d love to get this pan or maybe the red ceramic pie dish from Emile Henry ($40 from Amazon).
Which is not to say that I’d be giving up my sturdy glass pie plate and deep-dish pans. Never!
And I’ll always have a collection of fluted tart pans with removable bottoms. They get a lot of use in my kitchen.
The fanciest: Holy Sheet ($40 from Great Jones)
Mom would say: I didn’t know these things came in colors. I couldn't decide between the raspberry and the blueberry, so I got you both of them. You need two, don’t you?
I’d say: Mom’s right. It’s hard to decide. And she’s also right that it’s good to have two baking sheets, since cookies are usually baked in batches. Even though these are nonstick, I’d still line them with parchment paper, the way I line my old faithfuls. Easier clean up and even baking.
The Frenchest: Fleur de Lis Bundt Pan from Nordic Ware ($30 on Amazon)
Mom would say: Chérie, you love Paris – this is perfect for you! Now even your plainest cakes can have a bit of French flair.
I’d say: Mom’s right. I love the Bundt pan with its fleur de lis, a symbol of France, my part-time home. I'm mad for Bundt cakes! I love that you can get a lovely cake that looks beautiful without fussing with decorations- the pan makes the cake beautiful. Automatically.
The non-Gallic Bundts:
I also love:
Dealer's choice: Holiday Baking Collection ($56 or $118 from Burlap & Barrel)
Mom would say: I haven’t a clue what to do with all of these. But I think you do.
I’d say: Mom’s right. I do know what to do with them. Well, with most of them. And the one’s I haven’t used before, like Wild Mesquite and Red Turmeric, are even more exciting than the ones I know well. Inspiration and adventure in a box. What a great gift!
Pick-your-own spices, gift cards from:
Mom would say: Aren’t these your friends? They’re so talented! Oh, you know I’d never make any of these things, but couldn’t you make me big, big bread?
I’d say: Mom’s right: Apollonia and Joanne are friends. And yes, they’re wildly talented. And such good teachers. Maybe, instead of streaming It’s a Wonderful Life (you know, I’ve never seen it – hmmm), you could start a sourdough. Or make a layer cake. Masterclass is currently offering a 2 for 1 holiday gift deal, so you could subscribe for yourself and give a wonderful gift. You'll find classes from other food greats like Dominique Ansel, Yotam Ottolenghi, and more.
King Arthur Baking offers virtual baking workshops (most around $45). Learn how to make a bûche de Noël or homemade baguettes!
Milk Street offers a different virtual class every day - and gift certificates - with topics ranging from German Christmas Baking to Knife Skills 101 (most around $25).
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All of these suggested gift ideas are independently selected. None are paid advertisements. However, if you buy something through one of the retail links, I may earn an affiliate commission.