Gift giving should be fun, but too often we worry about what is right. Relax—give food and go local. Everyone eats, so food gifts are an ideal choice. Tasty choices are as abundant as fresh snowflakes in Edina. Picture visions of cookies, cakes, candies, cheeses, breads, spirits and, of course, gift cards. There is something delicious on Santa’s list for everyone.
Give the gift of good spirits. “A lot of people buy bourbon, scotch or beer come the holidays,” says Steve Grausam, director of liquor operations. “The new norm for gift giving—that’s what we’re seeing in our stores.” Award-wining Knob Creek from a traditional Kentucky distiller stands out among the 50 to 60 bourbons that Edina Liquor carries. A single barrel limited-release that’s aged nine years ensures a one-of-a-kind taste with a warm kick at 120 proof. This spirit isn’t just a man’s drink. “We’ve seen a big uptick in women buying bourbon,” Grausam says. And this purchase is something you can feel good about, because 100 percent of the profits go back into the community for parks, art programs and more. Three Edina locations.
SNOWMAN TREE FRUIT ARRANGEMENT
Capture the sentiment of the season with fruit. Give a gift that joyfully proclaims, “We wish you ‘berry’ holidays.” The new snowman arrangement makes a healthy statement at no sacrifice to sweetly seductive taste. Frosty the snowman has a pine tree forest of fruit bonbons growing out of his top hat. Fresh honeydew form the pine tree branches. Skewers of bright red strawberries, pineapple stars, cantaloupe balls, grape kabobs and Belgian truffles decorate the tree. The snowman arrangement makes an ideal gift for out-of-town family, business clients, December birthdays or your own table, according to Brenda Buelt, owner. Plus the snowman container is a nice keepsake. Prices start at $50.
HOLIDAY GIFT BOXES
Cocoa & Fig
Good things come in holiday boxes, especially when they are sweet treats from Cocoa & Fig. A varying selection of peppermint bark, Russian tea cakes, chewy chocolate ginger cookies, gluten-free chocolate kringle cookies and cranberry-orange shortbread go into the mix. Each elegant delight is made from scratch using the finest ingredients. “Everything is local and hand-crafted,” says Laurie Lin, baker-owner. “The holiday gift boxes make a wonderful hostess gift, corporate gift or secret Santa at the office.” With a range of sizes from one small box to a grand tower, no one need be left out. Treat yourself, too. The baked goods are also available individually through the holidays. $25-$100.
(Friends, relatives and co-workers will love these elegant gift boxes filled with hand crafted holiday treats from Cocoa & Fig.)
CHEESE OF THE MONTH
France on 44
People like cheese. But how do you gift-wrap something that needs to remain chilled and is perishable? Just say cheese of the month! Send 1½ pounds of cheese love for three or six months. With each delivery, the lucky recipient will be in for a pleasant surprise from several fresh cuts of superb cheese. Plus a little something extra is tucked inside – a cheese knife, jar of honey or some other cheese-enhancing item. Cheese buyer Katie Renner takes pride in selecting the very best flavors that reflect the vast world of cheese. A rotating selection of top-quality cheese means the menu is always changing. Three months $150, six months $290.
Spicy sweetbread bakes in all the joy of the holidays. Julekage, roughly translated as “Yule cake” in Norwegian, is worthy of a celebration. “I have people come in and ask, ‘Can I get some without labels on them since I’m going to give them as a gift?’ ” says Steve Hobbs, baker/manager. Baker Jim Hamilton prepares the julekage in a recipe he’s perfected over 30 years. Orange, lemon peel, candied cherries and pineapple permeate the cardamom-cinnamon scented bread. “We put way more fruit in than anyone else. It’s probably one-third fruit,” says Hobbs. For a festive holiday touch, candied red and green cherries top off the loaves. Never say, “Bah, humbug” to julekage—this perpetual favorite is available year-round. Try it sliced, iced, plain or whole. Jerry’s julekage is proof that real Old World taste doesn’t have to break the bank. $4.69.
It just wouldn’t be Christmas without cookies. The folks at Wuollet would agree. Customers have come to celebrate the holidays with cookie trays for decades. These days, the cookie tray actually comes in a white box with a window that is more transportable and protective. Still, the cookie tray name lingers on in a tradition that delights many a holiday merrymaker. A signature Wuollet red ribbon ties the delicious package together and looks distinctive. The temptingly tasty cookie trays make excellent business or hostess gifts, according to Audrey Malone, manager. Made fresh daily, the butter cookie assortment includes Russian tea cakes, turtles, spritz and pastel fondant cookies. “We bake from scratch so they melt in your mouth,” says Malone. $23.95-$75.95.
TASTE OF MINNESOTA BASKET
Lunds & Byerlys
A tisket, a tasket, make a present of a Taste of Minnesota basket. It’s a Minnesotan’s survival kit overflowing with real Star of the North-style comfort foods. Think Minnesota wild rice, Boundary Waters blend coffee, Northern Lights seasoning, Thomson strawberry rhubarb preserves, Maggie and Mary’s soup mix, and Pearson’s Nut Goodie and Salted Nut Rolls. Even better, the cleverly shaped basket follows state lines. “It’s truly a Minnesota basket,” says Jerry Mekins, consumer gift manager. “People enjoy giving a Taste of Minnesota basket for their friends and family here in Minnesota or ship them out.” The basket makes a nostalgic gift for Minnesotans living in other places who are in need of some Minnesota nice. They like to break open the nut goodies right away, says Mekins. $59.99.
PARASOLE HOLIDAY GIFT CARDS
Give the perfect meal with a gift card. Each of Parasole’s venues issues their own gift cards, and all 14 establishments redeem them, including Pittsburgh Blue, Good Earth, Mozza Mia and Salut in Edina. “Part of the appeal is the range of the brands that we offer,” says Kip Clayton, vice president of marketing. “It’s not like a tie you would return.” The gift cards have no fees, never expire and can be used anytime. Buy $100 worth of gift cards and get a $25 gift card for free. Parasole’s holiday gift cards promotion is a “wildly successful program that continues to grow each year,” says Clayton. Good Earth; Mozza Mia; Pittsburgh Blue; Salut.
HOLIDAY WREATH BOX
Prepare to be overwhelmed by chocolate. See’s has nearly 100 varieties of old-fashioned American-made candies, and many are behind the counter for individual sale. Samples are free—one, two, three or more—whatever your heart desires. (Sometimes you need a gift, too.) After all that sampling, you’ll know just what candies to get everyone on your list. See’s makes the selection easier with the handy holiday wreath box. The 22-piece seasonal assortment gleams of sugar and spice in a beautifully packaged Christmas-red souvenir box decorated with a bonbon wreath. Escape from the holiday bustle and bite into sugary dreams of creams, truffles, seasonal specialties in dark, milk and white chocolate with or without nuts. $32.50.
Sweet Retreat Cupcake Boutique
Traditionally in France, the bûche de Noël (yule log) serves as a Christmas symbol of the hearth and home. “This is our American take,” says Stephanie Kissner, owner. The large yule log comes with delicious white buttercream birch or deep chocolate ganache on a base of vanilla or chocolate cake. Frosting fills of red ribbon, pine branches and holly make a decorative finish. In the smaller cupcake size, “stumps” of cake are anchored by holly leaves and berries. The yule logs are fancy enough to serve as a centerpiece, and the buttercream frosting can sit out on the table for a while at room temperature. “We get a lot of people who come back every year. They bring one to the family get-together or gathering,” says Kissner. With their unique presentation, the yule logs also make a nice hostess gift, she adds. Mini $7.50, large cakes $39-$89.