Please Don’t Buy Me Another Tea Towel or Apron — Here’s What I Want Instead

updated Nov 25, 2019
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Credit: Emilija Manevska/Getty Images

When you love food and cooking, tea towels and aprons become a default gift from friends — both are easy to shop for and ship, neither really require sizing, and they don’t go bad. At first, the annual boon of new kitchen towels is great! You can count on replacing a few of your burned or stained towels or getting a needed apron. But decades into a love of food (and cooking and writing about food), I’m really good on towels and aprons. I have a few sets of kitchen towels that I love the weight and nap of. Bonus: They are all the same color, so they can be washed together as one load. As for aprons, I have three I love that fit me well and that’s the max that the tiny nail in my pantry can hold.

What I’m saying is, please stop buying your foodie friends tea towels and aprons. There’s something right in the same price point, non-perishable, totally useful, and cool that we all want instead.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Get Your Food-Loving Friends Restaurant Totes Instead of Aprons and Towels

A canvas tote bag from a favorite restaurant, coffee shop, grocery store, or farmers market is actually the very best gift you can give to your food-loving friend. As reusable bags and totes have become necessary for grocery shopping (I love seeing these plastic bag bans and paper bags that cost money!), more and more places are getting in on the trend of custom-printed totes.

Credit: Kopitiam

While completely useful for hauling groceries, party snacks, and more, they can also be more sentimental than a tea towel or apron. For example, I’m sending my BFF a tote from the restaurant where we shared a memorable meal. I was gifted a simple, sturdy bag from my favorite coffee shop and I just added a Hedley & Bennett for Madewell tote to my personal wish list. You could also snag a tote bag from a beloved destination that you know your friend would love and add a note saying, “Until you can visit San Fran in person, here’s a tote to help you dream.”

Beyond restaurant-specific tote bags, there are also tons of food-themed options on Etsy. And yes, with so many tote bags out there, it can be easy to hit the tipping point of having too many. But at least these can be used on all sorts of adventures inside and outside of the kitchen.

What about you? Would you rather have a tote bag over yet another apron or tea towel?