2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Consumables

Consumables can make fine clutter-avoiding gifts for almost any budget. As with any gift, you’ll need to consider your recipient — not everyone drinks alcohol, some people have food allergies, etc. But match the right consumable to the right person, and you’ve got a winner.

Food and beverage

When it comes to wine, I have a fondness for fine champagne, which always seems so festive — and tastes so good. Chocolates also can be lovely; Tcho makes a Tcho-a-day package of dark chocolates, with a 30-day and a 90-day option. (You could even split these packages up into a bunch of stocking stuffers for numerous people.)

For non-alcoholic beverages, there’s always a good coffee or a special tea. A cook might appreciate a nice olive oil; David Lebovitz recommends Arbequina. But really, the possibilities are endless: fancy salts, a special peanut butter from the Netherlands, heirloom beans, and so much more.


Know people who like growing their own food? Consider a seed bomb, or some specialty seeds.

Soaps, cosmetics and such

For people who like bar soap — and appreciate magnificent packaging — you might get the soaps from Leap Organics: eucalyptus, mint, and anise is one of their three options. Another interesting choice would be the soaps from Badger, sold by Soap Hope, which say: When you purchase any item from Soap Hope, we invest ALL profits — every single dollar — into programs that empower women to lift themselves from poverty.

All sorts of seemingly mundane products can be more fun than you might expect as a gift. Items like bacon bandages, Abraham Lincoln bandages, or Jane Austen bandages are fun for restocking a first-aid kit. You can get organic toothpaste from Denmark in a number of flavors, or cinnamon mint toothpaste from Italy. And you can even get interesting dental floss.

There are plenty of interesting lip balms, such as the Coast of Eden assortment: chai spice, lavender mint, blood orange, and peppermint. Or you could get a do-it-yourself lip balm kit.

Alisa Bonsignore just tweeted that she is “much too old to be this entertained by my color-changing ‘mood’ nail polish” — which I’d never heard of, until she mentioned it. Maybe you know someone who’d be entertained by color-changing nail polish, too. Or, you might prefer some more traditional nail polishes, such as those from Butter London, with their “complete lack of the chemical nasties.”

Art supplies for children

I’m always amazed at the wonderful products available in this category; just make sure whatever you purchase is safe for the child’s age. Consider edible veggie sidewalk chalk, made with organic ingredients. Or, consider Snazaroo face paint, the Faber-Castell Young Artist Finger Painting Gift Set, and Glob natural botanical paints. And, there’s a fun-looking set of eco-crayons and an eco-art pad.

Office supplies

For something different in sticky notes, take a look at Leaf-it. For example, you can purchase their maple leaf sticky notes. And how about some colorful staples: pink, blue, purple, or teal?

Want more gift-giving ideas? Explore Unclutterer’s full 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

15 Comments for “2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Consumables”

  1. posted by adora on

    Consumables are the best!

  2. posted by Jennifer on

    I like making and giving cookies for teacher/coworker/friend gifts. I figure even if a person doesn’t like or can’t eat them they can share them.

  3. posted by Cherilyn on

    Adore consumables as gifts. One of the best I was ever gifted is Saporoso Riserva Balsamic Vinegar aged for 8 years. It is an amazing ingredient that elevates whatever dish is lucky enough to enjoy a drizzle. And I love that it is not something that someone has to eat or enjoy quickly – yet it’s just a small bottle of lovely so doesn’t take up too much space in someone’s pantry.

  4. posted by PatGLex on

    Last year I stumbled across an expensive locally sponsored olive oil (sold at a local liquor store/gourmet shop) during a Saturday sampling over Thanksgiving, and ended up getting a bottle for my brother for Christmas along with some fresh spices to grind for dipping. And for my brother in law who is into spicy: a trio of weird local hot sauces. (I wish I could figure out what to get for my sister, who is very picky about her food….)

  5. posted by JC on

    I will be bagging jars of exfoliating hand scrubs, rice filled hand warmers, and truffles all homemade and in homesewn bags for my female friends. I haven’t yet decided for the men aside from nut/fruit cookies, moose German sausage and bear pepper sticks and crackers.

    We usually only make cookies at the holidays – 60-100 dozen. (We make the doughs at Thanksgiving and freeze them to slice and bake closer to Christmas.) We label the different sorts, put a variety in paper lunch bags with a bit of ribbon, pick a direction and start driving. If you are home- you get cookies, if not- too bad and we keep driving until we run out.

  6. posted by Babs on

    This is a really nice roundup of gift ideas!

  7. posted by Iris on

    I love receiving edibles. Sweets, to be precise. Okay okay, chocolates and truffles. Wine’s good too – once I can get over the “saving for a special occasion” tick and actually drink it…

    Office supplies: A nice notebook or planner for the coming year, or, even better: a pretty fountain pen – certainly! But seriously, staples, huh??

    Soaps, cosmetics: I’m okay with perfume although I might prefer a gift certificate in this case. However, if any of my friends ever considers toothpaste/dental floss a good present, I shall remove them as clutter from my life. I would find that totally offensive and no, the provenience/fancy factor/taste would not matter at all.

  8. posted by Emily on

    Iris- to the right person, staples, or any fun office supply, is a great gift. I once gave my best friend a bag of different post-its for her birthday, from the tiny ones that fit in a pen to the paper sized sheets and everything in between. For her: perfect. For someone else: insulting. I’ve had colored staples and they are fun. But like my friend, I’m also someone who loves funky office supplies.

    For me, chocolate or wine would be a terrible gift- I don’t care for either. But olive oils, vinegars, spices, or teas would be loved and appreciated. Know your audience!

  9. posted by Emily on

    Oh, and the art supplies for children (or an artistic adult) is such a great idea! My mother still gives me some kind of art kit or supply for Christmas every year. Last year: shrinky dinks and a box of nice colored thread (I love to sew). Year before: pattern book and yarn (I knit myself a hat). I got her a paint by number that now hangs in her bedroom and funky beads she used to make a lampshade.

    Quality supplies for an existing hobby can make an excellent gift. A friend gave me a ball of alpaca yarn she got from Peru- nicer than what I would get myself and a joy to knit.

  10. posted by Iris on

    Emily, I wholeheartedly agree with “know your audience”! Most edibles would be fine with me, but I have my preferences (so have you apparently ;-))

    I come from a household where Christmas (and other) gifts were chosen from a list of things that were needed for the functioning of the household: Kitchen appliances, power drills; or otherwise practical: underwear (think wooly longjohns, instead of sexy), shirts, … you get the idea.

    So, if people want to give me something practical, it better be something very very nice (mind that doesn’t imply expensive!) that I wouldn’t get on my own. Staples and toothpaste doesn’t quite fit that bill of mine I’m afraid…

    Having said that, I do make exceptions: I already twice asked visitors to bring – instead of anything else – a special brand of toothbrush that is not available outside of my home country. I did not feel silly asking for it, but I would certainly feel insulted if I got them without prompting.

  11. posted by Anne on

    I had a real inspiration this year, but I don’t know what category it would fall under. I am giving my immediate family (including myself), and my son’s fiancee, a genomic analysis from a company called 23andme.(www.23andme.com) . what each person gets is a “spit kit” which is the sent off to the company; you get results back in 6 to 8 weeks that tell you all kinds of interesting and maybe life-saving things, from where your mitochondrial DNA originated, to whether you are carrying the genetic mutation for Tay-Sachs disease, to information on how you may react to medications, and much, much more. As of this writing the kits, testing, and continuing updates are around $99 each, but of course that can change. There are a number of other companies also doing this, including one that has made a specialty of helping people of African descent with finding their roots. I’m so excited by this, just on my own account! You do have to know about the person you are getting it for – many Native Americans, for instance, could have religious reasons for not wanting to do this.

  12. posted by Rae on

    I received the Lincoln bandages for Christmas last year! They aren’t great (not very sticky), but the rather lovely tin they come in is reusable to hold better quality bandages. I thought it was a great gift, a combination of both gag/inside joke and utilitarian.

  13. posted by Harry on

    I wouldn’t call the art kits consumables, I’d put them in the experiential category. To my mind consumables means nothing left when you’re done, but with art kits you have the art left when you’re done.

    For most this might not matter, but if you have niblings who like to give you their artwork, you should be aware than giving an art kit might mean you end up with artwork to keep.

  14. posted by Ruie on

    Such great ideas. Gifts which don’t hang around forever are the best. My fav was a bar of dreamy soap from Spain I received once. Thanks all for sharing.

  15. posted by Esti on

    Consumables is a great gift idea, but also consider giving experiences: movie/theatre tickets, digital magazine subscriptions, spa treatments etc. For example in Cape Town we have year passes to visit our local botanical gardens, as well as using the Table Mountain cable way. These make great gifts, so find similar places of interest in your area. Also meal vouchers at nice restaurant would make great gifts.

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