A six-pack or a bottle of your favorite spirit is never a bad idea when you don’t want to arrive at a shindig empty-handed, but don’t you want to get out of your gift comfort zone? Here are some out-of-the-wine-gift-bag ideas, along with a few suggestions for your favorite foodies. You can find more Made in Texas gift ideas in our guides for the Stressed-out, the Texan in Training, the Trendsetter, and the Stocking (gifts under $50).
The Comfortable Kitchen: A Defined Dish Book, HarperCollins Publishers, $29.99
By developing accessible and healthy-but-creative recipes, Dallas-based food writer Alex Snodgrass has built quite the fan base—she has more than 622,000 Instagram followers, and her first cookbook, The Defined Dish: Whole30 Endorsed, Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes, hit the New York Times best-seller list and drew praise from Brené Brown. The follow-up to that collection, The Comfortable Kitchen, comes out Christmas week, although preorders are available now. Because the recipes are either fully paleo or “at the very least paleo-ish,” this book, which covers cocktails (a margarita with egg-white froth), entrees (spicy shrimp pasta with tarragon and basil), and desserts (individual Texas sheet cakes!), can help indulgers actually enjoy recovering from holiday gluttony.
Winter Wonderland, Delysia Chocolatier, $55.95
Just one nibble of a creation from artisan chocolatier Nicole Patel and you’ll know why her Austin shop was named a Best Chocolatier in the Americas by the International Chocolate Salon in 2020 (now that’s our kind of salon). Delysia’s ever-changing collections are always beautifully packaged and themed for occasions and holidays. This season, you can’t go wrong with the Winter Wonderland box of sixteen chocolate truffles in four cozy flavors: hot toddy, peppermint mocha, campfire-spiced muffin, and Swiss Alps fondue. The squares are decorated in sophisticated shades of blue and white, printed with festive designs like ice skates and snowflakes. They’re almost too pretty to eat, but that won’t stop you.
Mini Burgundy Stripe Napkins, Garza Marfa, $64 for four
Woven exclusively for Garza Marfa, a desert-chic furniture and textile retailer owned by Jamey Garza and his wife Constance Holt-Garza in the hip West Texas town, these stylish square napkins almost feel like vintage linens thanks to their hand-spun yarn. A blend of linen and cotton, they are guaranteed to get softer with every wash. And the next time you’re in Marfa, make sure to stop by the beautifully appointed showroom’s newish location on the ground floor of the old Masonic building near the Hotel Paisano.
Terracotta Plantable Candle, Esker, $85
Part of the holiday line from Austin’s Esker, known for its line of plant-based skin-care products, this soy candle emits warm notes of lemon balm, honey, and coriander for up to 75 hours of burn time. When the last flame goes out, you can remove the ceramic vessel’s handmade paper, which is embedded with lemon balm seeds, and plant it with the accompanying compressed soil pod. Just add water, and watch the disc grow into a full-fledged home for your new favorite plant. The resulting lemon balm can be steeped for a cup of herbal tea, among other uses—a thoughtful gift that keeps on giving to your favorite host.
Tiered Garnish Caddy, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, $145
Consider this “lazy boozin’ ” the proper way to serve cocktail garnishes to guests. From Tito’s Handmade Vodka, the state’s oldest legal distillery, this three-tiered bamboo-and-metal rotating tray has room for a bottle as well as all the olives, limes, jalapeños, and celery sticks you need for the perfect custom Bloody Mary. You’ll feel very proud of your hosting skills. And you’ll also feel good knowing that 100 percent of net proceeds (at least 25 percent of the retail price) of this and all other Tito’s merchandise go to a nonprofit—the customer chooses from a list of charities, such as Emancipet and chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, upon purchase.
Abby Jane Bakeshop Subscription, Table22
Abby Jane Bakeshop, in Dripping Springs, opened less than a year ago during a pandemic, but it’s already a destination stop for Abby Love’s delectable baked goods as well as her wood-fired pizzas (“the best-kept secret in the Hill Country,” we proclaimed recently). Love uses heritage grains from next-door neighbor Barton Spring Mill as her not-so-secret ingredient, which is why bread fans will rejoice over either of two monthly subscriptions, each starting at $50. Lucky members can choose from either the Sourdough Bread Box, featuring six loaves as well as an optional baguette add-on, or the Seasonal Bakery Box, a party-friendly assortment of breads, cookies, loaf cakes, cinnamon rolls, and more. The boxes are available for local pickup or delivery to the Austin area. The subscription program is one of many available through Table22, formed to help restaurants around the country develop new business models during this industry-changing time.