1. Wine Country Gift Baskets: I've been an annual devotee for a few years now. Their baskets are filled with high quality sweets and savories, they ship super-fast, and the wine selection is goes beyond the usual mass-market suspects. Some of their bestsellers even ship for free. I gave my aunt their Classic basket last Christmas. She called me 10 days later to say that it had become the highlight of her kids' and husband's day to decide what to fish out of it for a snack each evening. Perfect for foodies, wine lovers, and snackers.
2. Stonewall Kitchens: My gram sent me a set of amazing jams and infused olive oils from here last week, and the idea is so good, I'm stealing it for my food-centric tribe. They have a huge array of gifts at all price points, including TONS of delish sauces and relishes that your dear ones can pop open and apply to something, or use to zazz up an actual recipe. Great for peeps who love eating, but aren't necessarily trolling the Atlantic Food Channel every day.
3. Whole Foods Baskets: I eyed some really impressive ones at the Lincoln Park store last night. They've got stacks pre-made, but if you have special needs, you can visit the holiday order table up front and they'll assemble one for you. Perfect for food snobs or your vegan friends who wear hemp jumpers.
4. Just Grapes on Washington Ave.: Their wine selection is focused (they're picky about what they stock), special (boutique producers you won't find at Binny's) and moderately-priced. You can order online, and they deliver or ship anywhere. Perfect for wine lovers who know their schtuff.
1. Nigella's Rocky Road Crunch Bars: I'm making these to fill goodie boxes for the neighbors, mostly as an apology for the dog throwing his bouncy toy down our front stairs at 7:00 every Saturday morning. 'Gella's philosophy is to keep it easy, especially for the holidays. Word, girl.
2. Cherries Simmered in Red Wine: These babies are red, festive, sweet, easy, and versatile as all get out. Your recipient can use them on ice cream, pound cake, with creme fraiche, or in a trifle. Or they can just fork them out of the jar like I do. Did I mention they keep forever?
3. Duo of Sugars: If actually cooking or baking makes you want to lie down, how about tossing together some fancy sugar and putting a bow on it? Whole Foods has ideas on their web site, including these. If you can locate dried edible lavender and vanilla bean pods, you too can impress.
Two other morsels of advice: No one beats the Container Store for all manner of festive little receptacles for your food gifts. And avoid Martha's site this season, as it requires a PhD in Crafts...unless it's for decorating your mantel or tablescaping (she completely rocks the casbah at those).