My gift guides always run late, a direct mirror of my holiday shopping habits. Every June and July, I’m determined to begin the process months early, that this year will be different! And every winter, the same procrastination and holiday busyness creeps in. So here is the Cinnamon gift guide for the holidays, yes, but also for just anytime: for birthdays or retirement presents, or big anniversaries, or small work victories. Like almost everything we cover on the site, every gift suggestion included here is locally made in small batches, or represents an offering from a voice or identity that hasn’t always been heard as widely as it should be throughout history. We emphasize women-owned and operated companies, queer and POC entrepreneurs, and deeply local, lovingly constructed products that work against capitalism’s worst fast and cheap impulses. Please enjoy some of my picks for things I will be giving to others, or, honestly, that I would love to receive as gifts.
Food52, the brainchild of Amanda Hesser, is a recipe and food content hub that expanded into selling their own wares several years ago, and boy, was that expansions good news for us. I had the distinct pleasure of previewing some of their best holiday picks when I was in New York this year, and this apron was on of my favorites. It’s part of the company’s own Five Two line, and has an attention to detail that rivals any piece of material I’ve ever put on my body. Gifted an apron in blue — aka blueberry — I found myself using the built in pot holders at the corners of the apron, constantly using the conversion sheet (every bread recipe is in grams), and using every single pocket available for dirty spoons or floury towels. Yes, I mainly used this apron during my own short-lived sourdough phase, but if I ever have another one, or need to get back in the kitchen in a big way, this will be my armor. It’s made from thick cotton twill and actually long enough to keep my pants splatter-free, too. The best part? It’s a fairly affordable gift that still feels personalized, ranging from $25-$60 depending on the color and size. Shop here.
Speaking of Food52, New York-based food stylist and food writerJesse Szewczyk has been a contributor since 2018, concocting some of the best sweet treat recipes on the site. Jesse has written extensively about his experience as a gay man in the food space, and his voice is part of an essential reckoning the community has faced over the last few years. Now, Szewczyk has come into his own and released a full-on, glossy cookbook… and it’s devoted entirely to cookies! Simply titled Cookies: The New Classics, I can’t think of a better gift for the sweet obsessed or habitual baker in your life than this love letter to the doughy, to the crunchy, to the delicious comfort that is cookie. Oh and while you’re at it, his Instagram is well worth a follow too. It’s covered in, you guessed it, cookies. The best news: It’s on sale now via Bookshop for $25.30. Shop here.
While we’re on the subject of cookies… have you tried Fleur Et Sel? Believe the hype. This is not an Instagram trendy company! This is truly the best cookie-making in the city right now, if not the country. Started on her own during the height of the pandemic, Lara Adekoya accidentally became the purveyor of one of the most coveted sweet treats in all of Los Angeles. Adekoya spent time in France when she was younger and was definitely influenced by the cuisine there, so she named her pandemic project after her two favorite things — flowers and salt. Now, her cookie drops regularly sell out in minutes and her motto is: Cookies, Compassion and Community. Her next cookie drop is this Monday, December 20th, at noon. Do your loved one a solid by logging on and refreshing quickly so you can get a spot in line. And while you’re at it, I recommend Vanilla Bean Sugar. Shop here.
“A record crackles as our protagonist slips off their shoes after a long day and starts tapping to the rhythm as they dance-walk-shimmy towards the bar cart and pop the…” that’s how Ghia’s story for the holidays begins, with a tiny vignette stamped onto the flap of the box this booze-free spirit comes delivered in. With the tagline “all of the spirit, none of the booze,” you get the sense that this botanical and bitter mixture is just as playful as any of its alcoholic counterparts — sans the regret, hangovers, and headaches. Though I’m an avid drinker, I’ve gotten much more involved with these alcohol alternatives over the years, not just to have something on hand when entertaining sober friends, but to remind myself that I don’t have to constantly reach for alcohol to have something delicious to sip on. Ghia is like the ultimate mocktail, and it doesn’t need much to be immediately drinkable. Plus, their holiday pack includes not just the alcohol free aperitif, but Italian panettone, a jar of Ghianduja (basically nutella) and a limited edition tin box that saves you the hassle of wrapping. It’s $78 for the pack, but if that’s a little steep for you, a bottle alone is $33 and ready-made canned spritzes will run you $18 for a four-pack or $4.50 a can. Shop here.
On the other end of the spectrum, a smoky mezcal might be good for your friend who loves a sharp drink on the rocks? One of the few artisanal mezcals making its way across the border from Mexico, Madre is hand-made in “the rolling hills of Oaxaca” and is notably much less smoky than other brands. Since launching their original, the brand has since added Espadin, “a single varietal exploration” with an emphasis on the Espadin agave flavors. Made by three families in the Oaxacan region, Madre is the epitome of locally grown and sold. $45-$55 per bottle. Shop here.
Along with loving locally-made, natural and biodynamic wines and the winemakers who carefully tend to these vintages, I love forward-thinking entrepreneurs who help get these bottles into the cellars of young collectors. So naturally, I’m a big fan of what Underground Cellar is doing to help support winemakers. This tech company is disrupting Napa Valley in the best way, helping collectors get upgrades to nicer bottles when they buy in at a certain price point, and gamifying the wine collecting business at the same time. If you have a wine lover in your life, then a gift card to Underground Cellar to get them started just might be the move. Did I mention that UC also stores wines for their members completely for free? It’s the best of both worlds. Shop here.
“I began Moonflowers Co as a celebration of women in Afghanistan, who harvest saffron with love,” said Moonflowers founder Tahmina Ghaffer, who was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. Naming her company for the hours when the rare spice is picked, just before sunrise,Ghaffer wanted to spotlight an industry in her native company that is composed of 80% women. Though women in Afghanistan still struggle for equal rights and opportunities, their work planting, harvesting, and packaging the rare Saffron from the region is a true feat. Sourcing only from the Herat region in Afghanistan, Moonflowers specializes in the premium-grade super negin Saffron. The specialty herb begins at $21 for 2 grams and goes up from there, with both larger offerings and subscription models. This is the perfect gift for the obsessive chef, or anyone hyper-focused on the rights of women around the world. Shop here.
Well Traveled Club Membership
If brands like Brightland taught us anything, it’s that olive oil makes a great gift — especially if it is made by women in California and comes in a stylish package. Pineapple Collaborative makes more than just olive oil, but a tin of this stuff is a great option for bakers or bread lovers who quickly soak up the liquid gold with their afternoon snack. The organic oil is made by Kathryn Tomajan using organic Arbequina olives that are grown at ENZO Olive Oil Company by the Ricchiuti family. Pineapple Collaborative began as a dinner party in DC for those seeking to build community through food, and has since launched their own line of products and so much more. But for those just getting involved, the olive oil is an excellent place to start. Tins are $34 with 33.33% more olive oil than most other specialty bottles — and you can pick the color tin you want, too. Shop here.
For just $150 a year, you can take all the hassle out of selecting and booking hotels on your own. And every time you arrive in a new room, some perk like a bottle of wine, a plate of fresh fruit, or an elaborate chocolate treat is waiting for you. Sounds good right? That’s what Well Traveled Club offers their members, along with other features like better rates, other member perks, and a community of like-minded adventurers adding their own recommendations to the club’s private destination boards. This membership pays for itself and then some, sign up a loved one and get back into traveling in 2022. Apply here.