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Lisa Schölzel

Senior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

instagram.com/whatscookinglisa/

This article is part of our monthly issue "A Culinary Christmas Carol," in which we explore traditional and modern takes on holiday dishes from around the world. Using the framework of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, we'll share fun recipes, last minute gift ideas, tips for cooking a small feast in case you're social distancing, and plenty of light-hearted holiday content for you to unwind with. Check out this link to find an overview of all our weekly topics, stories, recipes, and more.

Every year, I try not to give in to gift buying mania. It’s not that I don’t like to give—but rather that I don’t like the pressure to give at a fixed time, as is the case at Christmas. I prefer to buy gifts spontaneously, when something happens to come to my mind and makes me think of a certain person. This year, however, it's particularly easy: I'm giving our new cookbook as a present to my grandma (so she can see me again), mum and dad (because, their daughter is in it), my sister (she's now cooking Kitchen Stories recipes, yay!) and so on and so forth.

I can understand if that's a bit too general for you. I always look forward to new gift ideas that offer a little more variety and that I can add to my mental "gift ideas I might need someday" list, for very specific and special people. So (once again) I have been asking around—this I asked the team for the very best presents they’ve given or been gifted. Here are the results:

Ania, Team Lead Operations

"A wine subscription is such a great gift for the the times we’re living in. Every month you’ll be surprised with new, exciting wines—you don't have to leave the house to pick them up, so you can just sit back and enjoy them. Merry Christmas!"

Eva, Community Manager

"Every year my loved ones get little love letters from me. Tears are guaranteed and my parents are always often overcome! I also like to give away photos or whole photo books showing past shared experiences. This may be a classic, but it works every time!"

Xueci, Associate Food Editor

“This isn’t something you could get for someone this Christmas, but, for the sake of nostalgia and future-planning: I got my dad a ticket to the ATP French Open semi-final. It was a coincidence because we happened to be in Paris at the time. He went alone with a translation app (he doesn't speak English nor French) and to this day is still thrilled and starstruck at having witnessed Serena Williams in real life.”

Ruby, Senior Food Editor

This water bottle that my mum gave me last Christmas, which as well as keeping drinks hot or cold (comes in very useful for my lockdown walks), blends into your home like some Memphis-design-era sculpture, and always starts a conversation when I pull it out of my bag. If it’s not cute, I don’t own it!”

Luise, Senior Partnerships Manager

“You might think it’s not a fun gift, but I was so glad to finally unwrap a Sodastream! It’s been in daily use ever since. In my book, anything that you would never spend money on yourself, but turns out to be the most useful gift of all—is always a winner. Think things like a high-quality suitcase, a multiplane grater, a tomato knife… you name it!”

Julie, Director of Content and Creative Strategy

“A little non-food related treat: When I was little, my parents would always give us new pajamas on christmas eve to sleep in. On christmas morning we’d sit at the top of the stairs in them, at like 5:30 am, waiting for our parents to say we could come down to start opening presents after taking a picture of us. Now that I am (cough) an adult, from time to time my mom will still lay out new pajamas on my bed on Christmas eve if we’re spending it with her. Nice pajamas are something I rarely buy for myself so it feels particularly indulgent to have them to throw on at night after a long day!”

Natalie, Project Manager

"My best present ever was an electric piano I got from my parents for Christmas. I always wanted to be able to sing and play the piano and since then I have been able to practice exactly that. The other really great gift was a jumper: My best friend illustrated a photo of our group of friends and printed it on a jumper for me. I wear it almost every day now and it reminds me of the great times we’ve had".

Sebastian, Head of Arts

“I got a Le Creuset cast iron frying pan a few years ago which I love and will hopefully use for many many years to come! This or a Dutch oven I think are great presents. It’s good for anything that needs a good sear. That could be a piece of meat but also for sautéing vegetables on very high heat. They feel so much more alive this way. I use the Dutch oven for so much: stocks, stews, pastas, even baking bread. It’s a jack of all trades.”

Devan, Managing Editor

“I love getting cookbooks (or really any books) for Christmas and these tend to also be my go to’s for gift giving. Last year my dad got me the Indian-ish cookbook and wrote a whole note in the front that was super cheesy—he cried of laughter when he forced me to read it out loud—‘I’m roti this note so yogurt how much olive you. No matar where you live, even when it isn’t paneer by…’ and so on, as I’m sure you can imagine.”

Patrick, Senior Video Producer

"I once recorded a lip-dup video with a few buddies and then put it on a DVD for a friend. That was well received and is a funny, albeit lavish, gift. If someone wants a white Christmas, which unfortunately doesn't happen so often in this country anymore, then artificial snow is a good idea. Once someone had the idea to put up a Christmas tree at my home, including decorations, fairy lights and everything else around it. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but the idea alone touched me very much.”

Amina, Communications Designer

When I was a kid we didn’t have nice color pencils—we had those very bad quality ones, that don’t draw but instead scratch the paper. My mom’s boss once gave me a box of Faber Castell pencils as a present. Oh my god, they were the best! I used to draw with them day and night. They lasted me for about a year! So this year—I think I know what to gift myself!

Andreas, Associate Food Editor

"In my family, we often gave each other high-quality knives for Christmas, even though they say that giving knives away brings bad luck. That is why we bought them from each other for a symbolic number of cents. Whether this superstition also applies to the blade of this almost unadorned Japanese mandolin, I cannot say. But regardless of this, it is one of the best gifts I have ever received. You only realise how simple raw vegetable salads and papaya salad can be when you finally retire the old vegetable peeler".

Lisa, Senior Food Editor

As for me? My two favourite presents were these: For Christmas two years ago, I found this red Capelle baking tin under the tree. Each one is unique because it’s handmade, comes in two sizes, and is super practical. It doesn't need to be greased if you want to bake a cake in it, you can cut directly into it because it’s scratch-resistant, and it’s dishwasher safe. Plus, it’s a baking tin for cakes as well as for oven vegetables! Numero due is my sweet little ukulele, which still doesn't bore me. Hallelujah!

Is there a gift that made you especially happy? Let us know the comments to expand this gift guide!

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