Early Bird Gift Guide

Originally published here (but it’s too useful not to share!)

The holidays bring fun and merriment but also stress and discord. How much money do you spend? How personal should you make the gift for a coworker? What if you forgot to get a last-minute gift and can’t afford the shipping? The answers to all these questions are almost always gastronomically related. Here are all the gifts you need for even the most troubling people in your life.

You brand-new boyfriend

You  sleep over every weekend. You met his mom at brunch one time, and you were finally invited to his friends’ monthly poker game/girls tapas night. Now that you are in, it’s time to remind him that you are uber-spicy. Put together a spicy assortment of spices, cheeses, and hot sauces to let him know that though you are sweet, you are also hot.

Your friend who still owes you $200

Hammer it home. Get a half bottle of wine, a box of chocolates clearly labeled half off, or a regifted gift basket. You wish you could get more for this friend, but you are flat broke. If only you had an extra chunk of change…

Your girlfriend with whom you are about to break up

Let’s not draw this out longer than we have to. Get her a package of ground beef, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a shaker of fake Parmesan cheese. Bark at her to get in the kitchen, and make you dinner, and voila—she breaks up with you. Then go home, and order pizza with a clean conscience.

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Your boss who hates you

Kill ‘em with kindness. Get the most expensive box of macarons, the fanciest set of knives you can afford, or the newest wine aerator on the market. By showing that you won’t let your boss not like you, s/he will have to relent.

Your last-minute freak-out gift for your sibling

Don’t pay an enormous shipping fee, or run all over town looking through stores that are already sold out of all the good stuff. Go to the drug store and get fluffy socks, a trashy DVD, and loads of candy and junk food. Toss it in a gift bag, call it family night in, and watch the tears flow as you explain how all you really want this holiday season is more quality time together. Works like a charm.