Presents! ‘Tis the season, but gift giving can be fraught. Will they like it? Will it fit? Do they already have it? There’s one sure-fire option that will please even the pickiest giftee: food. And now, with thousands of choices out there, it’s easier than ever to find just the right fit for your friend or loved one. Check out our suggestions below for the perfect food subscription boxes for the people on your list. It’s the gift that literally keeps on giving!
For Your Favorite Little Chef:
Every family has one: the tiny Ina Garten or Bobby Flay wannabe who watches the Food Network instead of cartoons. This subscription box is their destiny. Each month, they’ll receive a box with step-by-step recipe guides (illustrated and laminated!), an apron patch, culinary skill lessons to build technique, a fun kitchen project, a pertinent kitchen tool, and a grocery list to complete the recipes. Raddish feels that “the kitchen is the tastiest place to learn,” and there’s no arguing with that logic!
Cost: $24/month, with price breaks for pre-paying 6- or 12-month subscriptions; shipping included in U.S.
For the Japanese Culture Lover:
If you know a manga lover or Pokemon Go devotee, this might be the gift that lifts you high in their esteem. Each bright orange box holds a different collection of themed snacks from around Japan’s prefectures, along with an essential Tasting Guide that deciphers ingredients and shares historical context for each item. December’s box, the “Snow Festival,” contains handmade Mikan candy, Melty Kiss matcha, milk mochi, butter potato rice crackers, Tomoriko corn sticks, Hoshino Hojicha Latte, Sakebushimaru salmon senbei, and Fran double chocolate. Ever so much cheaper than a direct flight to Tokyo.
Cost: $39/month for Classic Bokksu and $25/month for Tasting Bokksu; shipping included.
For the “Live to Eat” Friend:
So many box options, only one stomach. It’s a quandary. Bacon, Gelato, Parmigiano Reggiano, Bread, Brownies, Olive Oil … all the major food groups are available. If I had my druthers, I’d opt for the Culinary Adventure Society, because four times a year, a big box full of major foodie finds would be delivered to my door. Think rare olive oils, small-batch cheeses, seasonal baked goods, exotic condiments, and more.
Cost: $600 for a year of quarterly boxes; shipping included. Check the website for prices for the other food clubs available.
For the One Who Likes to Cook “Guy” Stuff:
Encased meats. Barbecue. Crunchy stuff. Bacon. Hot sauce. Each box has a different theme (“Bacon Nation” and “Bourbon BBQ” are past winners), and the wooden crate shows up every other month filled with carefully sourced artisan goodies and regional favorites. It’s the “Modern Man’s Pantry.” News flash: Women also like bacon and barbecue, so feel free to order it for your gal friends as well.
Cost: $59 per month; free shipping.
For the Tea Lover:
Definitely not the “Texas tea” you remember from the Beverly Hillbillies! This Austin-based tea startup will deliver a personalized selection of artisanal tea bags drawn from many favorite brands. Each box contains four different teas (to make 15 cups of tea, or as many as 45 if you’re a re-steeper), reusable filters (when needed), steeping guidelines and tasting notes, recipes, and more. Here’s a toast to tea drinking by the fire all winter, preferably in your PJs!
Cost: $45 for 3-month subscription; free shipping.
For the Ice-Cream Obsessed:
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, founded in Ohio in 2002, is spreading their magic in the Midwest and along the Eastern Seaboard. Don’t have a Jeni’s scoop shop in your neighborhood and are cruelly denied access to all the best seasonal flavors? Is ice cream your raison d’être (no judgment here)? Jeni’s will deliver four pints of ice cream, freezer packed, four times a year. You’ll also get four of their signature ice cream spades to serve them up properly. You will be loved.
Cost: $230 for one-year subscription; shipping included.
For the Meat Eater:
Not everyone lives in a city with great sources for cured meats, and for them, this could be their ticket on the happy train. Premium cured meats are delivered directly to you, and each month features artisanal purveyors from around the world, from n’duja to jerky, truffled salami to soppressata. Can’t get enough salt in your diet? This may be the answer.
Cost: $24.99/month for Snack Box and $44.99/month for Classic Box. Shipping is $9.99 per box.
For the Drinking Buddy:
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, amirite? These DIY cocktail kits will turn any average schmo into an in-demand mixologist. Each box includes organic ingredients (bitters, syrups, citrus fruits, etc.), recipe cards, useful bar tools, and links to “how-to” videos. Note: Alcohol is NOT included, but that’s easy enough to track down on your own. While you’re on the web page, check out the other options Cratejoy, which aggregates all the best sub box programs in one handy place, has to offer.
Cost: $49.99/month, with price breaks for pre-paying for multiple-month subscriptions; free shipping.
Julie Chernoff, Make It Better’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz Scaggs, Rick Bayless, and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and sits on the boards of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and Northlight Theatre.