Without fail, every party-filled holiday season leaves our counters filled with themed eats. And not the kind of edible goods we're excited to dig into either. It seems that whenever we host a gathering, we inevitably end up with an unwanted hodgepodge of the same few seasonal items. Nosh that, when wrapped and left behind on our counters as presents, lands well-intentioned gifters salty spots on our naughty list.
But, we've decided against going full Scrooge this year. Instead of rounding up the nine
food gifts NOT to bring to holiday parties — in the spirit of a softened Grinch (post meeting Cindy Lou Who) — we sought out and lined up their desirable alternatives. Scroll ahead to stay savvy on which festive replacements will earn you that sweet spot on your holiday host's nice list. Chocolate babka and Sparkle Bark included.
Instead Of: Fruit Cake Gift: Chocolate Babka An Eastern European dessert-bread classic, Green's babka is crafted from a family recipe spanning back to the 1930s; it's made from a yeast dough that's then rolled and twisted with layers of rich chocolate filling. Green's Babka Chocolate Babka (Kosher), $29 (2-pack), available at Goldbely.
Instead Of: Chocolate Wine Gift: Bourbon-Spiked Chocolate Sauce Who needs chocolate wine when you can whip up your very own, customized chocolate martini? Or, a boozy chocolate sundae. This bottle of Break Up Potion is crafted with an agave nectar base that's spiked with Breckenridge Distillery Bourbon and finished off with 72% South American dark chocolate and Valrhona cocoa powder. Dude, Sweet Chocolate Break Up Potion, $30, available at Dude, Sweet Chocolate.
Instead Of: Cookie Mason Jar Mix Gift: Trendy Collab Mix Steering clear of a boring mason jar mix for this collab mix is THE move — resulting baked goods are said to be "deliciously chewy with bits of streusel crisp and morsels of dried blueberries." Madewell x Milk Bar® Blue(berry) Jeans Cookie Mix, $19, available at Goldbely.
— PAID — We can't deny our love for holiday-themed cocktails, so Smirnoff Peppermint Twist definitely makes the list. Smirnoff Peppermint Twist, 12.99, available at Smirnoff. Please drink responsibly.
Instead Of: Popcorn Tin Gift: Artisanal Popcorn (that packs a punch) While we may want nothing to do with a trio of separate, flavor contrasting popcorns, one pack that combines three complimentary tastes is an entirely different snacking matter. Butter & Scotch's "Hot Mess" kernels are seasoned with green chiles, tequila, and lime zest for a complex caramel corn that they say, "tastes like a sticky, sweet and spicy taco washed down with a refreshing margarita." — and that's just one bag out of the three. Butter & Scotch Caramel Corn Trio, $24, available at Butter & Scotch.
Instead Of: Hot Chocolate Tin Gift: Hot Chocolate On A Stick Random hot cocoa tin mixes aren't the most enticing of holiday host gifts — but these peppermint, peanut butter, and salted caramel chocolate blocks on a stick are just begging to be swirled and melted in a hot mug of milk ASAP. Mouth Hot Chocolate Meltdown, $20 (3-pack), available at Mouth.
Instead Of: Cheese Straws Gift: Specialty Cheese Coins Replacing last year's tin of off-brand straws with a box of Rustic Bakery's crunchy, savory, and complex coins? Well, let's just say that'd be nothing short of a holiday cheese miracle. Rustic Bakery Blue Cheese & Walnut Coins, $8.99, available at Murray's.
Instead Of: Generic Shortbread Gift: Artisan Cookie Sampler Box Instead of grabbing that same tin of doily-shaped shortbread, reach for this gourmet gift box — packed with an assortment of Chocolate Orange Cardamom, Brown Sugar Gingerspice, and Honey Lavendar shortbread cookies, in addition to Chocolate Chili Cashew biscotti and two Dulce De Leche brownies. Whimsy & Spice Classic Sampler Cookie Gift Box, $25 (box of 25), available at Whimsy & Spice.
Instead: Chocolate Mystery Box Gift: Chocolate Clusters (one chocolate, done right) Let's stop the holiday chocolate box roulette game once and for all. How? By gifting gourmet boxes of the one chocolate that everyone wishes there was more of — for example, Compartés' dried California strawberries coated in milk (or dark) chocolate clusters. Compartés Chocolate Strawberry Clusters, $49.95, available at Compartés.
Instead Of: Peanut Brittle Gift: Specialty Chocolate Bark It's not that peanut brittle is inedible by any means, it's just that we'd much rather receive Bang Candy Company's popping candy, chocolate bark — sold in a festive trio of peppermint, spicy cinnamon, and candied ginger with lavender flavors. Bang Candy Co. Bang Candy Bark Trio, $65, available at Bang Candy Co.