The state of the birthday party is uncertain, which makes it difficult to think of birthday gift ideas. But it’s more important than ever. Enthusiasm for the Zoom gathering has waned. Yet we still can’t gather large groups together for birthday celebrations, either. If you have friends who are celebrating their birthdays during this no-large-gatherings era, you may want to overcompensate a little for the weirdness with birthday gifts. Before, you might have bought them a drink at the bar or brought over a birthday cake. Now, at least, you can shower them with material goods, delivered straight to their door. If you’re out of inspiration, continue reading below for our picks for the best birthday gifts for your best friend, favorite family member, and any loved one who loves to cook, drink coffee, or just eat cheese.
The Best Birthday Gift for Coffee Lovers: Espro French Press or Kinto Day Off Tumbler
The Coffee Gator isn’t your standard-issue French press—and that’s what makes it the perfect gift. It’s made of double-walled, insulated stainless steel, meaning it’ll keep your coffee warm as you drink the entire pot throughout the work-from-home day. Speaking of which, the machine has a double filter, preventing grit from seeping into the coffee; a barrier between the two filters prevents over-extraction (normally, you can’t allow the coffee to sit atop the grounds all day in a French press because of the risk of over-extraction). This serious-business stainless-steel construction also makes it more durable and gives it a sleek, modern look.
The Kinto Day Off Tumbler was one of the winners in our search for the best to-go coffee mug. This winter this birthday present will serve not only as a coffee vessel, but also as an important way to keep a warm cocktail toasty when you’re eating out on the back porch.
The Best Birthday Gift for Someone Who Needs a Project: Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine or a Sushi Making Kit
Have a friend who needs a new staying-home-a-lot-more-than-usual project? Mercato’s famous pasta machine is a gift that brings a much-needed opportunity to learn a new skill to the birthday person’s kitchen. Roll out a variety of pasta shapes and compensate for the fact that none of us will be traveling to Rome for carbonara anytime soon.
This sushi making kit includes bamboo rolling mats, a rice spreader, a spatula, and chopsticks. It also comes with online video tutorials that will guide the amateur sushi-maker to create expertly crafted rolls.
The Best Gifts for the Aesthete: The Duchess, Always Pan, or a Wooden Bowl
The Duchess by Great Jones easily wins the award for best-looking Dutch oven. If your friend is into cooking, but even more into aesthetics, this is the perfect birthday gift—and just in time for soup and braising season. The enameled cast-iron cookware retains heat exceptionally well and can move from the oven right to the table—especially since it’s pretty enough to work as a piece of servingware this Thanksgiving and holiday seasons.
The Always Pan from direct-to-consumer company Our Place is made to replace eight cookware pieces. The pan claims to serve as a fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, and nonstick pan. It also comes with a spatula and spoon rest. While our reviewer thought the pan didn’t achieve quite the level of utility it claimed, he still felt it made a good gift for beginner cooks or people with New York–style small kitchens. And its chic look is undeniable.
$145.00, Our Place
Hand-carved from a single piece of mango orchard wood, this bowl may look too gorgeous to be functional in the kitchen. Use it as a festive centerpiece, yes, but you can also fill it with vibrant fall salads or whatever fruit you have on hand.
The Perfect Gift for Busy Cooks: Instant Pot Duo
If, somehow, the person you’re buying a gift for doesn’t yet own an Instant Pot, it’s your job to fix that. You’re not giving a kitchen appliance. You’re giving the gift of kitchen versatility: The appliance’s settings include pressure-cooking, slow-cooking, sautéing, steaming, rice-cooking, and making yogurt. On top of that, of course, it’s a time-efficient way to tackle all those long-simmering beans that will get your birthday friend through winter.
The Best Gift Ideas for Cheese Board Influencers: Bambusi Cheese Board and Knife Set or Murray’s Cheese Subscription Box
A cheese board is among the best gift ideas for someone who likes to build elaborate cheese and charcuterie boards, post them online, and only after a full photoshoot has been staged, share with a friend or two. The Bambusi cheese board is gargantuan, making it perfect for anyone who loves a particularly extra, elaborate spread. It comes with everything you could need, including a knife set perfect for slicing into a soft piece of Brie.
If you’re looking for the best subscription box gift, may we suggest cheese? In-house cheese experts at Murray’s make selections for these gift boxes, which get delivered once a month for four months, six months, or one year, depending on the subscription you choose. Each shipment includes a pound and a half of cheese (three half-pound selections).
$95.00, Murray's Cheese
Birthday Gifts for Beginner Cooks: Immersion Blender or Molcajete y/ Tejolote
A birthday gift perfect for a cook who has recently moved into their first home (and might be a bit tight on space). This thin, low-profile stick of an appliance blends, whips, and chops.
Carved from a piece of basalt rock, this mortar and pestle combo has a coarse, porous texture, which will season like a cast-iron skillet with use. Use it to smash together a beautifully chunky guacamole, a bright chimichurri, or a flavorful spice mix.
$50.00, Williams Sonoma
The Best Gift for Tequila Drinkers: Himalayan Salt Glasses
There’s no need to salt your glass rims with these fun Himalayan salt tequila glasses, hand-carved in Pakistan. Every shot of tequila ends with a nice salty finish without going to the trouble of dipping. They’re naturally antibacterial, so they can be reused after a simple rinse with hot water.
$30.00, Uncommon Goods
The Best Luxurious Gift: A Fancy Wine Glass
Everyone always needs a new set of wine glasses. These Zalto glasses, which won our product test, are so fancy that your friends will probably think twice about purchasing them for themselves—making them a perfect luxurious birthday gift to really treat your pal.
$59.00, Wine Enthusiast
The Best Gift for Aspiring Gardeners: Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden
It seems like everyone’s got a green thumb nowadays, but it can be difficult to find the time and space to jump into gardening. This Mason Jar indoor herb garden is an easy way to get started. It includes a hydroponic gardening system that makes it possible to grow your choice of Genovese basil, cilantro, mint, Greek oregano, parsley, or sage indoors this winter.
$20.00, Uncommon Goods
Originally Appeared on Epicurious