If you are tired of thinking about what to give your friends, wondering whether they'll like your gifts or stick them on the oddities shelf, wondering what things you will receive yourself and where you'll put them, you might want to consider gifts that won't need a permanent home. Consumables make great gifts and are often gratefully received. Here are a few ideas:

A classic gift is a box of succulent pears from Harry & David. One year my family all gave each other pears, so that we each had three or four boxes. That probably won't happen to you, but if you're concerned, Harry & David offers lots of other gift choices, including dried fruit and nuts and a fruit-of-the-month club for year-round fun.

Another favorite consumable gift is spices. I first found out about Penzey's when I received a 4-spice gift box as a wedding present. The box came packed with loose bay leaves, stick cinnamon and whole nutmegs, and I was instantly a fan.

Penzey's offers a huge selection of quality spices (I buy a lot of my regular cooking spices there now) and many, many gift boxes to choose from. For friends who are not cooks, there are grilling/broiling spices. I love Penzy's spice blends. I always use Bicentennial Rub on my holiday turkeys. Yum!

Of course, there's always chocolate. Though overloading on sweets is a holiday danger, high-quality chocolate is better than corn-syrup laden cheapies, and actually has health benefits. A favorite place of mine is Kakawa Chocolates in Santa Fe, where I often stop to have a cup of mesoamerican chocolate elixir. Another interesting chocolate purveyor is Intentional Chocolate, a company that embeds good intentions for the consumer into all of the chocolates they make. They also donate 20 percent of net profits to USA Cares.

Non-edible consumables are also great gifts. Some of my favorites are incense and candles. These are easy to find and therefore make great last minute gifts. Also great for host/ess gifts.

A final offering, one that I haven't personally tried but that looks fantastic, is artisanal ice cream. Mentioning Jeni's Ice Creams elicits "OMG" from anyone who's ever tried it. The price puts it solidly into the special occasion category, but I'm assured that it's out of this world. Since the creator's stated goal is to make ice cream that's less sweet and more flavorful, this stuff definitely goes on my wish list. Yes, they ship. They have great gift collections.

There are many more consumables, of course. Wine, cheese, specialty coffees or teas...all it takes is a little imagination. Shop from local small businesses and you will be giving two gifts at once, one to your friend and one to the business.

I wish all our readers a safe and peaceful holiday season!

Pati Nagle's latest ebook release is Galveston, third in her Far Western Civil War series (written as P.G. Nagle).

On December 21 she will release Coyote Ugly, a collection of short fiction.

Posted by Pati Nagle

Filed as: Miscellaneous, Gift-giving, gifts, holiday, holiday gifts, holidays