Our favorite gadgets, cookbooks and snacks for the holidays


I have already finished my vacation purchases this year. Please keep your applause until the end of this gift guide.

Honestly, I’m generally not that efficient. But with online shopping skills honed by 18 months of semi-containment, I quickly ticked everyone off my list before stores even traded their Halloween merchandise for Christmas items.

It has helped me get around these supply chain issues by buying second-hand books from friends and family, second-hand gadgets, and local produce. So if you are always on the hunt for freebies and the prospect of long lines at the mall and direct waits for Amazon packages doesn’t appeal to you, then this guide is for you.

I solicited many of these ideas from my colleagues at Atlas Obscura, so they are as original as you would expect. Some items may take a bit of scrolling on Etsy or eBay to acquire, but here at Gastro Obscura, we’re all on the road less traveled.

A community cookbook

Sam O’Brien for Gastro Obscura

Whether you live in the larger metropolis or the smallest village, a local group has likely published a community cookbook. And they make great gifts for history buffs and hometown loving friends who will enjoy learning about what was in their neighbors’ pots 10, 20, or 60 years ago. Online marketplaces like eBay are the best place to find these humble, hyper-local tomes.

A vintage kitchen gadget

Nicola Beuscher for Gastro Obscura

We love our kitchen gadgets here at Gastro Obscura, and like with community cookbooks, they’re more fun when they’re vintage. For the kitchen genius in your life, you can purchase a heavy-duty juicer like the one above, or an old-fashioned aluminum ice cube tray, which comes with a handle for easy extraction. If you want to cause Christmas chaos, on the other hand, treat a friend (or foe) to a cup of Pythagorean stuffing.

An ode to the Rangoon crab

Samir Patel for Gastro Obscura

I’m obsessed with the crab rangoon, those little deep-fried packets of goodness, the origin story of which is told in a Gastro Obscura article. This crab rangoon meme gets played a lot in Atlas Obscura Slack, and I recently sent our editor a box of these adorable stickers.

A box of original fruits

Anne Ewbank for Gastro Obscura

Sometimes the holiday gift season means… stuff. Too much stuff. That’s why I like to offer food. Thought and love are all there, but no one needs to find room on their shelves for another tchotchke. If you want to give your loved ones something more exciting than cookies, why not send them a pink pineapple in the mail? Or a box of fresh mystery exotic fruit?

A cooler of treats


This year we published this huge doorstop: the book Gastro Obscura. (What many of you have already bought, and we can’t thank you enough!) An eyedropper – you can grab one of these cute Gastro Obscura tins.

A tribute to Chinatown NYC

veritatem / CC BY 2.0

Chinatowns across the United States have been hit hard during the pandemic. While you should definitely support the one near you, this awesome project does merch to support businesses in New York’s Chinatown. I love this sweatshirt, which pays homage to my favorite breakfast spot, Cha Chan Tang, and I’m eyeing one of those adorably wrapped holiday gift boxes.

A cup of joe

Laura Bertocci for Gastro Obscura

I recently visited Bison Coffeehouse in Portland, Oregon for a sage mint latte and the best berry scone I’ve ever had. The scone wouldn’t hold the mail very well, but the coffee would. Bison Coffeehouse is the only native-owned café in town, and owner Loretta Guzman is proud to source beans from Native roasters across the continent, including Native Coffee Traders, Star Village Coffee, and Spirit Mountain Roasting Co. , all of which have online stores. .

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