The holly-jolly can be full of folly. You’ve got years of delicate dynamics at play: Maybe the in-laws are in town. Maybe you’re meeting your sibling’s partner for the first time. Maybe your friends are those people who seem just next to impossible to gift for. And there’s plenty of gifting to do. In fact, you’ve got entire stockings to stuff. So, how to navigate such fraught terrain without making an underwhelming first impression or becoming an outlaw to your in-laws?
One classic approach is to focus on the essentials. You might not know what they want, the thinking goes, but you know what they need. And yeah, that’s true. Sure. But it’s also a bit uninspired. Who’s going to get stoked about a pair of socks? Especially when pulling them out of a gigantic version of themselves. The impulse is right, but the execution is off. If you’re going to get ‘em something they need, it should still be something they enjoy.
So, what falls into that category? What is something that’s essential—more essential even than socks, and certainly more enjoyable? One thing springs immediately to mind. Food.
Now, a stocking is a decorative thing. You’re not about to plop in a pot pie or ladle it full of bœuf bourguignon. Yet neither do you want to toss in a scrunched up bag of Fritos. What you’re looking for is something that’s uncompromisingly delicious, with both the integrity to respect the aesthetic of a stocking and the durability to withstand the stuffing process.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a page full of items that hit all these marks. Here are some of the foodie favorites, what we’ll call Stocking Foodstuffers.
You know how, every once in a while, you’ll come across a concoction that is so delicious, so pure, so obvious once you try it that you’ll wonder how you’ve never encountered it before? Well, this is one of those times. Stagg Banana Jam tastes like the jarred essence of bananas Foster. It’s incredible over ice cream, or French toast, or just regular ol’ toast. Or on a biscuit. Or with some peanut butter. You get the idea. It goes well with just about anything that can afford some sweetness, including…
Zotter Chocolates Coffee Toffee
Coffee and toffee rhyme in English, yes, but they rhyme in flavor too. One’s roasty and bitter, the other’s caramelly and sweet. Smack dab in the middle of that flavor continuum is chocolate, which makes it the ideal binding for this bar. Indeed, all the elements work so well together that you might be moved to write couplets in ode. We sure have been:
Chewy, triumphant, and chock-full of goodness
Coffee Toffee will transport you to food bliss
…We are not talented at poetry.
That’s a pair of items on the sweeter side. As a counterpoint, get a load of these:
Dardimans Mandarin Crisps
These golden rounds are pure orange like you’ve never known it. They look like wheels of the sun. They crunch like fresh chips. And they taste like the concentrated essence of an orange’s juice and zest. The reason? These crisps are nothing but unadulterated mandarin. There are no other ingredients. And yet, the flavor is so far beyond that of a simple orange slice.
That’s not to say they only work on their own. On the contrary, give them a drizzle of something like this…
Da Rosario Truffle Honey
A lot of truffle products on the market don’t actually contain truffle. Rather, they’re just pumped with diluted truffle runoff and end up tasting synthetic and one-note. Not this stuff. It’s got pieces of white truffle right there in the honey. You can see them. And it has a deep, complex flavor to go with. Orange blossom honey is a classic, which is why this stuff goes so well over mandarin crisps. It ends up tasting like a bright crunch of citrusy, truffly honeycomb.
If you’re looking for something a touch more traditional, you can’t go wrong with:
Rustic Bakery Chocolate Chip Shortbread 3-Pack
Here’s something for anyone who loves the Christmas ritual of milk and cookies. Or for anyone who just loves cookies, period. Just like your aren’t dropping pie into your stocking, you don’t want to toss in some loose chippers either. Rustic Bakery’s cookie packs hold up, though, and this chocolate chip shortbread is a classic. We’re talking Valrhona cacao nibs and a sprinkling of fleur de sel.
But perhaps you’re on a diet. In that case…
Murray’s Snapback Hat
Do not eat this hat. Yes, the whole concept of this list is edible stocking stuffers, but we couldn’t resist throwing in a little swag. Especially when it looks like this. This snapback is literally brimming with cheesiness. And that makes it an excellent topper for the groan-worthy punster in your life. Just smile and nod when they same something like, “Call me Queso Fresco, because I look so fresh.”
And just like that, you’ve loaded up your stockings with essentials that your giftees will actually enjoy. So, if you were about to pick up a 3-pack of knee highs, stay your hand. You needn’t feel so obligated. There is a way to fill those difficult-to-stuff stockings that everyone will feel good about. It might not completely alleviate the potential social perils of the holiday season, but it’ll most definitely make things better.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all: good luck.