While any gift is a treat to receive, food gifts are on another level. But, when it comes to selecting the best food gift for your loved one, you can run into some trouble. Not only is there a plethora of retailers to choose from, but there’s simply just a wide variety of food gifts in general.
“Stick with a theme or a time of day,” says Peggy O’Brien, the co-owner of Poppy Gifting. “For instance, Italian food gifts can include meatballs, specialty pasta, a favorite bottle of wine, and gelato. Or you can hone in on breakfast items and gift an assortment of pastries with artisanal jams, butter, and maybe bacon from a boutique farm.”
To give you a head start on your holiday gift shopping, we found the very best food gifts for any occasion, whether they’re a dedicated home chef, cocktail enthusiast, or even a picky eater. So, keep reading to find the best edible gifts for your friends, coworkers, and family members.
For your friend who loves biscuits, you can’t do much better than a gift basket from Charleston-based Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. With 18 biscuits (including 6 each of buttermilk, cheese and chives, and cinnamon) plus pimento cheese, they’ll have enough food for several breakfasts. And if you purchase directly from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, you also have the option of purchasing add-ons such as bacon and coffee.
Price at time of publish: $45.95
Skip the K-cup machine and give your friend a taste of New Orleans coffee. This set from Cafe Du Monde comes with one 15-ounce can of coffee and chicory, as well as a box of beignet mix, which can make four dozen beignets to eat with the coffee. Plus, since it’s available on Amazon it’s super easy (and fast!) to ship.
Price at time of publish: $19
For your favorite popcorn fan, this 3-pack of popcorn comes already popped and ready to go. This trio set includes white cheddar, cinnamon bourbon pecan, and salted caramel flavors, so they’ll be set for their next movie night or Netflix binge. Just take note that sometimes substitute flavors have to be sent instead based on availability.
Price at time of publish: $30
If you have a chocolate lover in your life, then they will enjoy this assortment of cookies. In this 12-pack, there’s chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia nut, and rocky road, which should satisfy every cookie craving. You can purchase the box in metal, red satin, or cream satin for an extra touch. Due to the shape of the tin, you can easily wrap it in a special wrapping paper and give it to the recipient.
Price at time of publish: $35.99
Fruit, cheese, and wine are all included in this impressive gift tower, which is made with the holidays in mind. It’s perfect for a celebratory occasion, and comes with an apple, orange, organic flatbread crackers, sharp cheddar cheese, and Ski Season Sangria Mix, which can be mixed with red wine and ginger ale for a sparkling drink. You can also send it with a personalized greeting card to complete the gift.
Price at time of publish: $74.99
For all the chocolate lovers out there, this one’s for you! This set includes truffles, mini chocolate bars, and sea salt caramels, but you can also add bourbon-infused gummy bears, ginger snap cookies, and more chocolate bar varieties. This indulgent gift is a great way to show your appreciation, celebrate a friend’s milestone, or help someone going through a hard time.
Price at time of publish: $40
If you know someone who loves Smith Island Cake, then this 7-layer cake is the perfect gift. This cake serves approximately 14-20 people, and has a simple yet delicious flavor profile: seven layers of yellow cake with chocolate ganache and traditional Southern fudge icing. It’s ideal for a milestone birthday celebration—and is nut-free so those with allergies can enjoy it.
Price at time of publish: $70
Elevate their home dinners with the Momofuku Bestsellers Pack, which comes with a five-pack of noodles, Chili Crunch, Savory Seasoned Salt, and soy sauce. Even better? Each noodle pack has a different flavor, so they’re set no matter what they’re in the mood for, whether that’s Soy & Scallion, Sweet & Spicy, Tingly Chili, Spicy Soy, or Spicy Chili.
Price at time of publish: $85
If your friend has come down with the flu or a cold, give them this Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup Mix. It’s super simple: All the recipient has to do is boil some water and add the chicken noodle soup mix. On the Harry & David website, you can purchase it alone or as a part of one of the deluxe packages. If you want to create a memorable moment for your friend, purchase a special bowl for them too, or extras like artisanal crackers.
Price at time of publish: $8.99
Boost the flavor of your friend’s barbecue with the Grill Lovers Collection from Spicewalla. From piri piri to jerk seasoning and blackening rub, there are multiple spices in this set to enjoy. The bright-colored tins are a nice touch, and help the spices stand out from the rest of the pack. You can also take these spices and use them as stocking stuffers.
Price at time of publish: $19.99
The recipient of this food gift gets to savor the creamy taste of not just one but six cans of Magnolia Bakery’s famous banana pudding. Plus, this pack comes with six banana pudding cookies for an extra delicious treat. The Southern staple is a great gift for a housewarming party or for someone who needs some cheering up.
Price at time of publish: $80
If your friend is feeling a little homesick for Kentucky, then these Bourbon Balls will lift their mood. Each bourbon ball is covered in creamy chocolate and topped with a pecan—and contains Evan Williams 100 proof bourbon. The package contains 16 Bourbon Balls, and serves 8-10 people (but there’s no shame in keeping them all to yourself).
Price at time of publish: $65.95
This chili olive oil is a tasting finishing touch that can be used on pizza, pasta, salads, dips, noodles, and more. This is a very unique oil because it’s made from Frantoio olives, which have been cold-pressed for the best flavor, as well as red chili peppers, jalapeño peppers, and chipotle peppers. If you have a friend who loves spicy food, this is a great option.
Price at time of publish: $40
If you know someone who loves a good charcuterie board, they are sure to enjoy this one that features artisan cheeses, meats, dried fruits, nuts, olives, and chocolate. Whether you purchase the small, medium, or large size, each one has been carefully designed by a chef. Plus, this board comes with a bamboo cutting board, so it’s ready to serve as soon as it arrives.
Price at time of publish: From $129
There’s no better way to treat your loved one than with some delicious cheesecake. The Georgia Peach Crumble Cheesecake from Georgia-based Honey Cheesecakes is topped with a sugary peach syrup and has a crumbly crust on the bottom. It serves 12-16 people, so it’s a great option for a housewarming or hostess gift.
Price at time of publish: $87.95
Imagine a latte that tastes amazing but has several nutritious add-ins. That’s what you can expect from Clevr Blends, which uses adaptogens and mushrooms to create better-for-you lattes. This pack comes with three latte blends: Chai SuperLatte and Matcha SuperLatte for an energy boost, and Sleeptime SuperLatte for better sleep. Plus, it comes with a scoop and frother as well.
Price at time of publish: $106
If you know someone whose favorite food is pasta, then we recommend giving them this pesto sauce kit. The set comes with four products that will elevate any Italian dish: Basil Almond Pesto, Sweet Pepper Pesto, Black Olive Tapenade, and Tomato Almond Bruschetta. Plus, a golden spoon comes with the kit so they can serve the pesto in style.
Price at time of publish: $100
You might not think that a regular box of chocolates is special, but you might change your mind once you see Compartes’s 10-Piece Signature Truffle Gift Box. The sampler comes with a changing selection of chocolate ganache truffles, each with its own unique design. While the 10-piece box is a good option for most occasions, there are 5-, 20-, 40-, and 80-piece sets as well.
Price at time of publish: $34.95
If you know someone who loves baked potatoes and barbeque food, then feel free to give them this 6-pack of stuffed baked potatoes for their birthday or another special occasion. You can choose to have the potatoes stuffed with four different types of protein: pork, turkey, ham, or chicken. Besides meat, these potatoes also come with cheese, butter, and sour cream. These potatoes can serve 10-12 people, making them a good family-friendly gift for feeding multiple people.
Price at time of publish: $109.95
Meat lovers will definitely appreciate the Best of Porter Road box. It contains a sampling of some of Porter Road’s most popular offerings, including two dry aged steaks, two pork chops, two pounds of dry aged ground beef, one pound of bacon, one pound of country sausage, and one pound of chorizo sausage. The Kentucky-based company has high standards for the farms they work with, and hand-cut every piece of meat themselves.
Price at time of publish: $128
A cup of warm tea is a great way to unwind at the end of the day. This Chai Lover’s Gift Set is complete with four of The Chai Box’s most popular blends: Hill Station (with notes of cardamom and rose), All Chai’d Up (a traditional masala chai), Sweet Monsoon (with notes of mangoes and coconut), and Lavender Nights (which is caffeine-free). We recommend gifting with a tea infuser if the recipient is used to bagged teas.
Price at time of publish: $80
From gumbo to jambalaya and étouffée, this set includes more than enough dishes to enjoy. Cajun Turkey Company is a Louisiana-based company that specializes in Southern fare that’s made from scratch, so your gift recipient just has to heat up these entrées and enjoy. Hearty and delicious, this is a good sympathy gift for someone who needs some comfort food.
Price at time of publish: $224.95
Your loved one can use the jellies in this set to add to their biscuits or toast—or even to make fruity yogurt. Just make sure they’re aware that since the jams don’t contain any preservatives, they only stay fresh for 2-3 weeks after opening. Due to the shape, you may have trouble with wrapping the jelly so we recommend taking a bow and tying it over the jar.
Price at time of publish: $39
If your loved one loves peanuts, then we recommend giving them this bucket of peanuts. Based on your budget, you can either purchase one or two gallons of peanuts (the 1-gallon size feeds 8-16 people, while the 2-gallon bucket feeds 16-32). And if your recipient likes to bake, they can de-shell the peanuts and add them to their favorite treat.
Price at time of publish: $20
With this cornbread bundle, they can enjoy a warm batch of cornbread without leaving their home. Each bag produces two 9×9 pans of cornbread, so they will have more than enough to feed their entire family or group of friends. Plus, they can reuse the sack it comes in. If you feel like the recipient needs more bags of cornbread mix, you can increase the quantity size.
Price at time of publish: $28
Southern Baked Pie Company’s French Coconut Custard Pie is one rich, creamy, and sweet gift. It comes ready to eat, so once the recipient gets it, they can easily cut a slice and add whipped cream to it (to ensure freshness, the pies have been packaged with ice packs). Plus, you even have the option to make it gluten-free, ensuring that your loved ones with food sensitivities don’t miss out.
Price at time of publish: $40
Made in Harpersville, AL, each Stone Hollow Farmstead container contains approximately 32 ounces of kernels, so the recipient can take their air popper and make a warm, delicious batch of popcorn for a movie night. The Lady Finger kernels pop into extra-small pieces and are more tender than other popcorn varieties.
Price at time of publish: $26
If you don’t have enough ingredients to make a homemade edible gift, then we recommend ordering this gift box from Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. It’s full of pralines, milk chocolate gophers, and divinities, each of which goes great with a hot cup of coffee or a cold cup of milk. Since the candies come in a red and white striped box, you don’t have to worry about separately purchasing a gift box. While you can purchase the box to deliver in purchase, you can also purchase it as an e-gift and send it to the receiver directly.
Price at time of publish: $69.95
There are enough ice cream cartons—and flavors—in this collection for everyone in your family to have their own. Jeni’s Ice Cream Best Sellers Collection comes with five flavors: Brambleberry Crisp, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Darkest Chocolate, Salted Peanut Butter With Chocolate Flecks, and Salty Caramel. The box is shipped with plenty of dry ice to stay frozen during the journey, and shipping is a flat-rate fee no matter how many pints you order.
Price at time of publish: $58
Your loved ones can enjoy the fruity flavors of passionfruit, blood orange, lime, and others with this sampler. Each pack comes with 12 cans (two of each flavor), and can be mixed with an alcoholic drink or enjoyed on its own. There is a “Send As A Gift” option that allows you to create a digital card and add a personalized note for a thoughtful touch.
Price at time of publish: $36
It doesn’t have to be their birthday for them to receive this gorgeous (and delicious) box of blondies. The 24-piece box comes with four of Blondery’s best-selling flavors: Birthday Cake, Pecan & Salted Caramel, Cinnamon Sugar, and Brooklyn Blackout (which is gluten-free). Whether they’re celebrating a birthday, holiday, or milestone, these blondies will make the occasion extra special.
Price at time of publish: $90
If you have a friend who enjoys trying new sauces or simply loves adding them to soups or chilis, then they will love this sauce collection. This sauce pack comes with garlic sauce, a dry rub, a tamarind sauce, and a mango chili sauce, making it perfect for a variety of meals. And if you don’t want to give all four to the same person, you can give one of each as a stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift.
Price at time of publish: $45
Texas-based Oak & Eden crafted this impressive bourbon with a variety of flavors, including honey, vanilla, and caramel. Rich and sweet, it makes for a great gift for your bourbon-loving friend. If you really want to go the extra mile, we recommend gifting it with drinking glasses—although it’s a pretty great gift on its own.
Price at time of publish: $49.99
If you know someone who loves a good cup of tea, then the Fall Tea Trio Box from Asheville Tea Company is a great gift. As the name suggests, the box comes with cozy fall flavors, including Pumpkin Pie Chai, Spiced Apple Butter, and Ginger Tumeric. To really go the extra mile, you can purchase a mug or tumbler to go with it, or even some complementary spices such as cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg.
Price at time of publish: $45
Questions and Answers
When should you send food as a gift?
According to Peggy O’Brien, co-founder of Poppy Gifting, “You can almost never go wrong with food! We especially love to bring food to someone who is hosting us for a weekend away or a special event like a dinner, or someone who may be going through a momentous life occasion such as welcoming a new baby, experiencing sickness or grief, or getting settled in a new home.” While you can wait until Christmas, the person’s birthday, or another special event, food is always a great gift no matter the occasion.
Can you send perishable food in the mail?
Most places that deliver food have special packaging guidelines to ensure the food arrives fresh, like dry ice packs. That being said, when shipping a food gift to someone, the person must be home to receive the gift and store it in their pantry, refrigerator, or freezer.
When asked about what food gifts should not be sent to someone, O’Brien mentioned that fruits and vegetables are items to stay away from. As a general rule, she says, “We recommend sticking to feel-good classic items that are desirable to many taste buds, such as fresh bread from Zingerman’s famous deli, an apple pie from The Southern Baked Pie Co., lasagna from New York’s best Italian restaurant, or cupcakes from a local bakery that offers delivery.”
How far in advance should you order a food gift?
“Given pre-ordered food is usually shipped almost immediately after it’s made, many food gifting and delivery services have shipping windows or one dedicated day per week that they ship,” says O’Brien. If you’re trying to have the food gift arrive by a certain day, make sure you take into account any shipping delays. Due to the busyness of the holiday season, if you’re ordering a food gift for a specific holiday or birthday, we recommend blocking off enough time so that the gift will arrive in time.
Why Trust Southern Living
This gift guide was created by Moriah Mason, a commerce writer for Southern Living. For this article, she carefully picked out a wide variety of food gifts. To learn more about how you should package a food gift when you should send one, and other important factors, she also reached out to Peggy O’Brien, the co-owner of Poppy Gifting, to get her expertise on food gifts.