Kitchn Love Letters

This $8 Paring Knife Is the Ultimate Stocking Stuffer for Grown-Ups

published Dec 7, 2022
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graphic featuring Swiss paring knives with red and black handles
Credit: Victorinox

Yes, I’m going to encourage you to buy a knife as a stocking stuffer. This might sound peculiar, but my family has a holiday tradition of gifting a particular type of knife — and it’s the handiest little gift I can think of.

My family’s tradition started years ago when my grandfather discovered Victorinox’s Swiss Classic Paring Knife. He was so delighted with his new knife that he bought a half-dozen more and stuck them into everyone’s stockings that year. At first, the rest of the family thought this was a sort of eccentric gift, but then we all fell in love with what became known as “the little red knife.”

If you’ve never owned a serrated paring knife, you’re in for a treat. These knives are handy for cutting so many things, but especially tomatoes, which they slice through like only the very sharpest of flat-bladed knives can. They’re also ingenious for recipes that call for root vegetables sliced super thin (think: potatoes au gratin). I like my Victorinox serrated knife so much that when my regular paring knife disappeared some years ago, I never bothered to replace it.

Gifting the little red knife became a bit of a thing because we discovered that these handy little knives often go missing — and that you can never have too many of them! They’re so light and easy to use that you’ll take them on picnics or to an outdoor party, and before you know it your little red knife is MIA.

Plus, they’re so cheap, you really can’t have too many. If your family camps, stick one in your camping gear box; if you’re blessed to have a pool house or guest suite, this might be the knife in your kitchenette. If, like my family, your crew gets enthusiastic about gifting little red knives, you might even take one to work and leave it at your desk.

After nearly two decades of using these knives daily, I recently discovered a new use for the little red knife: It makes a great first knife for a child to handle. Now that my son is 7, this is the blade I can feel comfortable handing him (with supervision, of course) if he wants to help in the kitchen because it’s so much less likely to slip while he is cutting.

My favorite knife comes in multiple sizes, too: I have both the standard and smaller sizes. There are variations as well; there’s a flat-edge version that our former executive lifestyle director loves and my mother once gifted my husband the round tipped version (apparently a “tomato knife), but we both agreed the standard model is preferable to the rounded one.

The little red knife is also available in a variety of colors in addition to red: orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, black. However, I’d never buy anything but the classic crimson because it’s become such a tradition. In fact, I suspect another reason the little red knife has become a go-to stocking stuffer for my clan is simply that cheerful red handle: It hits the holiday palette spot-on.