• Local Ingredients - When you're buying a gift for a foodie friend who lives far away, think local. Jams from your farmers market, local honey, beer from the brewery in town, even citrus from the tree in your yard: these are things that your friend won't be able to get where they live and that will feel all the more special because of it.
• DIY Food Kits - If you know that the person you're buying for likes big projects, think about giving them something like a Grow-Your-Own Mushroom kit, a cheese-making kit, or a one-gallon beer brewing kit.
• Pretty Serving Dishes - This one can be risky and requires knowing your audience a little, but it can also be a huge hit if you get it right. Personally, serving dishes are the kind of thing I never think of buying for myself, so I'm delighted whenever someone sends me an artsy serving platter for my birthday or brings me a pretty glazed bowl as a thank-you present.
What to Avoid - Unless specifically asked for, we'd avoid giving kitchen equipment or appliances. There's too much of a risk that your gift recipient might already own it, prefer a different model, or simply not want it at all. I find that the same is also often true for cookbooks. Unless I know for a fact that the person really wants a certain cookbook and hasn't already bought it for themselves, I tend to choose a different food-related gift.
What are your favorite food gifts to give or receive?
Related: Homemade Edible Gifts for Mailing