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Pros and Cons to Consider in Giving Food Gifts

Updated on November 6, 2012
A Cake with a Heart of Raspberry Jam.
A Cake with a Heart of Raspberry Jam. | Source

Food for Thought

There used to be a time when giving food as a gift seemed like a sweet and simple gesture. However, just like everything else it is no longer as simple as it seems.

Whether it be for birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, and holidays giving someone a homemade meal or treat is a nice way to show you care. But just like any other kind of gift there are some things you need to think about before going forward.

This hub aims to examine the positives and negatives in preparing food for that special someone in your life.

Pro #1: Everyone Eats

Unlike books or DVDs, cooking a meal never goes unappreciated. Everyone eats. While not everyone enjoys food in the same manner, a nice cake will not collect dust like that self-help book you saw on sale at Barnes and Noble.

Food is a basic necessity to all and a pleasure to many. When someone cooks for you, it is always a sign of appreciation and affection.

Americans have made eating a sport (i.e. competitive eating). But nonetheless, most holidays and special occasions are surrounded by food: for instance, birthday cake.

Con #1: Picky Eaters

Not to be funny, but there are people who progress from childhood to adulthood who are picky eaters. In fact it is so extreme for some people, that it is an actual disorder.

Selective Eating Disorder (or Adult Picky Eaters) are people who for some reason cannot eat all food groups with great ease and comfort like most adults. Their behavior is usually triggered by a dramatic episode that happened in their childhood involving food. Adult picky eaters are capable of living full and healthy lives.

Now, this is a rare disorder that affects select adults but there are alot more people who have particular objections to certain types of food.

For example, some people will do anything to avoid eating anything with a specific texture like seafood or okra. While it's obvious you won't make a gift of okra for everyone, the point is you have to consider who you are cooking for and if you are capable of satisfying their tastebuds.

Pro #2: It's (Relatively) Cheap

Not to sound tacky but let's be real- everyone thinks about where there money is going these days. And while it is nice to have the funds to buy your loved one that Pashmina scarf they've been lusting for, you have to be practical.

While there are some extravagant recipes, you can always tailor your gift to the palette of friends, family, or coworkers.

Also, there are several sites you can go and spend a certain amount of money per serving to get the most bang for your buck. All it takes is creativity and a calculator.

Con #2: Food Allergies

More and more people are being diagnosed with food allergies every year. And it's not just young children, there are adult onset allergies as well. I did not find out about my nut allergies until I was in college. While I am glad I found out, the way I found out was not good.

The only safe way to find out about food allergies is in your allergists' office with a test. Do not get me wrong, that test was torturous but at least it confirmed what I need to avoid.

According to food labels which are required to list common allergens on ingredient labels there are eight common offenders.The eight most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. That being said, it is best to know what your intended recipient can eat.

Pro #3: Great Food Creates Great Memories

There are some meals in my life I will never forget. For instance, I remember exactly where I was when I first tried cow tongue tacos (it sounds tastier in Spanish) and I also know what I thought the first time I tried food on Amtrak (I am not going to go there).

That being said as a cook, you can impress a great and lasting experience of eating and sharing on the recipient. However, it also puts pressure on the food to taste good. No matter how you slice it, the food becomes more than a meal for some.

But that does not mean you have to feel like this is an episode of Iron Chef. If you enjoy cooking and sharing food with others this will come naturally to you. And if you have not done it, you get a great sense of pride getting to do something like this for others.

Have You Ever Received A Bad Food Gift

See results

Con #3: It Can Be Considered Impersonal

I am not saying everyone is an automatic Debby Downer but sometimes people consider your intentions to the extent that they do not always accept your trademark cookies with open arms.

While I am not saying making cookies and giving them to family members should automatically be met with haste, you also have to think as the other person. In this instance it would certainly mean that the thought does count just as much if not more than the gift.

So if your plan does involve making food gifts, you might want to consider personalizing it to the tastes and desires of the intended. If you do no think that will work, consider doing something else if possible.

Pro #4: You Can Help Someone Who Needs It

The holidays bring about many desires and needs for everyone. With Hurricane Sandy, many families across the Northeast now have to worry about how they are going to rebuild. While there are great efforts to help get families back on their feet- you can also consider making them a meal.

And if you are not near to those who dealt with Hurricane Sandy, chances are you know someone who could use a good meal. If you attend a church, synagogue, mosque or other religious center chances are they have a running list of the elderly and sick. Or if you are not religious, you may belong to a social or community group who may have groups they like to help.

As much as everyone wants the latest iPad and Kindle for Christmas, nothing compares to the love and warmth you get from a hot meal made from the heart.

Most Popular Types of Food Gifts

Type of Gift
Restaurant Gift Certificates
Club Memberships
Food Clubs
Fun Food
Indulgence Food
Practical Food
Regional Food
Gulf Seafood
Source: Food Channel

Con #4: Your Food May Not Be Eaten

This should not come as a shocker, food is wasted. As many of us know, it is for completely inane reasons. But this is something to think about especially if you are cooking for someone who grew up in a different area. For instance, I have lived in the same state my entire life but we are constantly getting transplants from different areas- mainly the north. So what they are used to eating and what we eat are two different things.

That's not to say you cannot cook for someone from a different region or country but it is something to consider. Another thing to think about are people with specific diets like vegans. Unless you are a vegan or are well-educated on vegan cooking it might be risky.

And finally to be completely honest, people may not like your food but do not want to hurt your feelings. I have seen this play out alot and it is not bound to change unless both parties want to be completely honest. Even if you are cooking for your sibling, their tastes and your tastes are not the same.

Pro #5: You Improve Your Cooking Skills

The more you cook, the more likely you are to get better at it. And that comes from the trial and error of doing it. And if you really want to take it a step further, you can try cooking a specific cuisine for someone else.

One thing I have personally found handy are cookbooks at the public library. While I know many established cooks like to have their own cookbooks to mess up and edit, there are benefits from checking out a cookbook. If you want to try a certain style or are someone with specific issues like reflux, it is a great assess what you can make.

And in terms of benefiting others, it's like a test drive. You can give them some Italian home cooking and see if they like it. That way you can ask them to buy you a cookbook so you can make more of it! Come see, come sa.


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    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Sunshine,

      I'm with you on that. Gift cards are perfect especially if you know where they like to eat but food gifts are tricky with people having allergies and different diets these days. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent point of view Alecia! I rarely give food gifts except baked goods, but I do give gift cards for groceries or restaurants.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Daisy,

      I can only imagine what situations arise for you trying to eat out and have meals with others. I have allergies and reflux so I feel like I have enough to deal with. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Ish,

      I'm glad you enjoyed this hub! Thanks for sharing :).

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi TTombs08,

      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 

      6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      Thanks for publishing this article. I'm a vegetarian and my boyfriend is a vegan. A food gift presents an awkward situation if we don't know the ingredients. Whenever we have a party and someone asks if they can bring something, we suggest they bring something to drink.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      6 years ago from Chennai, India

      A wonderfully written hub. I agree with your valid pros and cons listed in this sensible hub. Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared on Facebook

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Alecia, these are exactly why I don't like to give food gifts for the Holidays. :) Great hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      I make chocolate chip cookies and candy to gift. I think the people who receive my goodies appreciate them. This is a great Hub, I enjoyed the read. The restaurant gift card is a good idea, too.

      Voted this UP etc

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Cathy Fidelibus,

      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Maria,

      I think it depends on the type of food gift that is given on whether or not people consider it impersonal. But I agree- if someone appreciates what you give them- you shouldn't stop.

      And I hope people consider donating food that others may need this holiday season. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments!

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 

      6 years ago from NJ

      Great information. I personally will take a plate of christmas cookies any day!

      voted up!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Alecia,

      I loved the thought and detail you put into this piece. It has much food for thought, sorry, couldn't resist.

      I am seriously saddened at those who would think this an impersonal gift. I think to share something you pride yourself on is a beautiful act of giving...always considering the feedback you get, considering allergies...

      For me, it is also a sign to continue my practice (peanut brittle) when friends ask ...even nervy enough to ask for bigger containers.

      And I love your emphasis on service, donations of so many kinds, even canned food drives that are ever present at this time of year...where our gifts are appreciated and needed.

      Excellent job, my friend. Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Glimmer Twin Fan,

      I knew it was true about okra! I love it, alot of people I know don't. A little thought goes a very long way. Thanks so much for coming by, commenting, and sharing :)!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      This is an incredibly useful hub Alecia. Especially for this time of year. Had to laugh when you were writing about okra. Someone gave me a jar of pickled okra years ago. Eech....luckily my father enjoys it, but seriously, there are a lot of things to consider when giving food. Shared and voted up.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey teaches12345,

      I agree homemade goodies can be great but you take a chance with store bought baskets. Thanks as always!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Shiningirisheyes,

      I think someone telling you they love your cooking is an awesome compliment! Thanks so much for coming by and commenting.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey Alocsin,

      I didn't think about regifting a food gift but that's a great idea! Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Great gift ideas for the upcoming holiday season and beyond. I always enjoy getting home made treats from friends & family. I have to admit that I once got a holiday gift basket that looked good, but the food was a bit below edible (it was store-bought). Your posting of pro and con on this topic is helpful.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Great subject matter.

      I, like so many others enjoy baking, cooking and providing holiday platters for friends and family. Not too long ago, one of my friends asked that I give her a platter full of home made treats rather than a store bought gift. It was the best compliment ever paid to me.

    • alocsin profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      First off, if anyone wants to give me a food gift, I love em! One pro that you don't mention is that they can easily be given away to someone who might enjoy them more than you. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Bizwin! I'm glad you enjoyed reading this.

    • bizwin profile image

      Christabel Evans 

      6 years ago from England, UK

      Great ideas here. I've never thought of this kind of gift, but now I know. I just love the variety of hubs on HubPages. You deserve my vote.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Learn Things Web,

      I understand gift cards. Especially when it's something you can use like a grocery gift card. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Janine,

      I love to cook as well. But you're right, time is a factor. Thanks so much for coming by, commenting, and sharing!

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      JC Jehan 

      6 years ago from California

      I'm actually at a point where I mainly give gift cards. I know it's impersonal but you really can't go wrong. A while back, my brother was struggling financially when the economy was really bad. I got him a grocery store gift card for Christmas. He was really happy with it and of course, he could buy whatever he actually needed.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Alecia, I loved this and for me the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I love to cook and bake and would do this in a heartbeat if I had more time (with two kids and writing, just not enough time in the day lately). thanks for sharing and have voted up and shared all over as always!!


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