Beer Making Kit from the Brooklyn Brew Shop
Sure, you could scour your supermarket’s beer shelves and trek to specialty stores for the perfect India Pale Ale for the hop-phile in your life, but why not buy something a little more interactive? Brooklyn Brew Shop offers complete kits for DIY brews, from a traditional IPA to an adventurous Jalapeno Saison. The kit comes with everything you need to brew from scratch—including chambers and thermometers—and the tools are reusable, so if you get the bug, you’ll only need to replenish a few essentials before your home brewery is up and running again.
Suggested by Natasha Geiling, digital intern
Max Burton 6000 Induction Cooktop
If you can’t stand the heat, cook with magnets. While typical stoves use gas or radiant heat, this smooth cooktop is fueled by a magnetic field (see: Joule’s first law of thermodynamics). The surface is smooth, unassuming and immediately cool to the touch when not in use—a great safety precaution for those less graceful in the kitchen. CookTek has several stoves for both indoor and outdoor use, but Gizmodo says the Max Burton 6000 is the best bang for your buck: 1800 watts for a list price of $125. Your loved one’s cast irons, or any pots and pans with traces of stainless steel, will work fine atop the eco-friendly cooker.
Suggested by Kelly Smith, contributing writer
In terms of dining, one’s coffee table is typically restricted to, well, coffee. Throw a little animal protein into the mix with Meat America by photographer Dominic Episcopo. At face value, it’s American iconography—from Lincoln to Elvis—artfully rendered in meat products. Cut a little deeper and it’s a delightfully tongue-in-cheek contemplation of the American spirit.
Suggested by Jesse Rhodes, editorial assistant at Smithsonian magazine
Sriracha Gift Basket
We are in the middle of a Sriracha scare. Huy Fong Foods, which produces the hot sauce with a cult following, was ordered to stop production of any sauces responsible for the factory’s noxious fumes that have been plaguing the citizens of nearby Irwindale, California. If a hot sauce shortage is indeed imminent, help your loved one through by compiling a Sriracha-themed gift basket. Start off with a few complimentary bottles of the famous rooster sauce, pair with Sriracha bacon lollipops from Lollyphile, a bottle of UV’s Sriracha vodka and top it off with a box of spicy candy canes from ThinkGeek—just for that bit of seasonal flair. If your giftee also has a bare spot on their wall that needs filling, I’m a big fan of this art print from The Oatmeal, which features a grizzly bear razing a forest with a Sriracha flame thrower.
Suggested by Jesse Rhodes
Can’t remember a worse December? Weather the storm with a pair of heated S’mores slippers. Styled to look like the campfire classic snack, these plush slippers come with 57-inch cables that plug into a USB port to keep your feet warm. Perfect for that person who has everything—and a deep appreciation for novelty items.
Suggested by Jesse Rhodes
Quirky’s Egg Minder
When you buy them by the dozen, it’s easy to lose track of your eggs. How many are left, or how many have gone bad? Leave nothing to chance with the Egg Minder, a smart egg tray that syncs with your phone and lets you know when you’re running low—or how long an egg has been in the container.
Suggested by Erica R. Hendry, staff writer
Beautiful Briny Variety 8 Pack
Salt might seem like an odd gift (doesn’t everyone already have salt in their kitchen, anyway?), but Beautiful Briny Sea takes the ubiquitous seasoning and gives it a funky artisan twist. This 8-pack includes staple varieties, like truffle and rosemary, as well as more exciting blends like “Santa Salt” and “Magic Unicorn.” The salts are harvested by hand and infused with herbs grown in Atlanta, where Beautiful Briny Sea is based.
Suggested by Natasha Geiling
Quirky’s Pluck Yolk Extractor
Yes, eggs come with their own separators (the shell), and believers that nothing in the kitchen should be a uni-tasker might balk at Pluck, a nifty device created for the sole purpose of plucking yolks from the whites. But anyone who bakes or eats a lot of egg white omelets won’t be able to resist the simplicity of this device that separates yolk from white with just a squeeze of its silicone bulb—and is easily disassembled for washing.
Suggested by: Natasha Geiling
Vesta Dry Hot Sauce
Spice lovers often complain that traditional hot sauces add heat at the expense of flavor, piling on extras like vinegar and garlic that most heat seekers could do without. In an effort to bring the heat without any of the unwanted aftertastes, Ben Yuorto founded Benny T’s Vesta Dry Hot Sauce. The “sauces” contain nothing but fresh chile peppers chopped, processed and mixed by hand, with no gimmicky add-ons, and range in heat from the spicy (jalapeño and serrano) to the diabolical (ghost chiles).
Suggested by Shaylyn Esposito, digital producer
Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit
It seems like mushrooms always find themselves on the hated foods list, thanks in large in part to their less-than-delicious growing circumstances. But even the most fungi-averse will marvel at the Back to the Roots mushroom kit, which lets you grow up to a pound and a half of gourmet oyster mushrooms right in your home. The kit comes with everything you need to grow—simply open the package, mist it with water and watch as your bounty comes to life.
Suggested by Shaylyn Esposito
Make it, Bake it, Mail it
If you’re on a budget, but also supremely savvy in the kitchen, a batch of cookies is always a welcome sight during the holiday season. Land O’Lakes has a guide that details what cookies ship well and how to pack them so that they reach their destination in great shape. You should especially note their instruction: “Mark the package ‘Perishable Food’ and/or ‘Fragile.’ (Not ‘Irresistibly Yummy, Delicious Cookies,’ to avoid tempting the willpower of the delivery person.)”
Suggested by Jesse Rhodes