30 Gifts that Keep on Giving (And Giving... And Giving...)

December  2, 2016

Day 12 of 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving: Gifts that give, and give, and (yep) give.

One of the reasons we give thoughtful gifts is to be witness to the small sparkles of joy when our near-and-dears open them. But you likely don't want that one moment in time to be the high point of your gift's life: You want to give gifts with staying power, that generate just as much excitement as soon as they're unwrapped as they do weeks, months, and even years later.

We've got subscription gifts (the joy of opening a present, every single month!) as well as gifts that bring happiness every day; project-gifts that grow over time; soon-to-be-heirlooms to pass down between generations; and gifts that give back to the planet (and save your recipient from stocking up on plastic baggies every week).

And, of course, if you want gifts that don't just keep "giving" but that keep giving back, consider making a charitable donation in your loved one's name.

Gifts That Don't Stop Coming (Really)

1). When you adopt an olive tree, you're supporting a hundreds-years-old Puglian olive tree and the farmers and producers who keep traditional harvest and production methods alive (a gift that gives back!).

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Top Comment:
“Great list! The 'happy light' link doesn't work and I'm really curious to see which one you suggest. :)”
— Susan M.

The initial gift box comes with a three-liter can of extra-virgin olive oil from a family-run, organic farm, plus a ceramic cruet to serve it from, and an adoption certificate; and, by signing up for the year-long subscription, you'll give three additional bottles of oil, one every three months (a gift that keeps giving!), each one from a different olive grove.

2). For loved ones who are snackers, cocktail party-throwers, or pork aficionados, get them twelve different salamis—one per month—crafted from Oregon pork using an old-world technique. Hold them over till that first package arrives by presenting them with a small knife, serving board, or your personal favorite salami.

3). A wreath for each season, so that door-beautifying doesn't end when the holidays do.

4). With the six- or twelve-month coffee subscription, your lucky recipient will get two 12-ounce bags of a signature Blue Bottle coffee every month. Give them a mug, too, so they have something to open before the first package arrives.

5). A subscription to a newspaper or magazine that will pique their interest, from the Sunday New York Times to Lucky Peach to Sweet Paul.

6). Or subscribe them to an app like Texture, which offers access to over 150 magazines. (The gift of learning!)

7). Send someone a monthly package of the country's best fruit from Frog Hollow Farm in California (choose a large or small box and a 3-month, 6-month, or year-long subscription). Summer brings apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, and nectarines, and in the fall and winter, you'll be giving pears, apples, pomegranates and more.

8). A new American-made sock each month! For truly happy feet, add slippers.

Frog Hollow Farm Monthly Fruit Box
Sock of the Month Subscription

9). The monthly gift boxes from Globe In feature handcrafted, fair-trade items around a particular theme and support artisans around the world.

10). Each shipment of wine from Vinfluence—which offers gift subscriptions of 3 or 6 bottles for however many months you choose—contains three wines from a boutique winery (typically that's two reds and a white, sparkling, or rosé). And for every bottle they ship, $1 is donated to City Harvest, Sustainable Harvest International, or Fiver Children's Foundation.

11). Sign them up for a cooking class, a pottery class, a class at the yoga or kickboxing or acrobatics studio they've expressed interest in before. If they'll be hesitant to go alone, get two passes and let them choose a guest to bring.

Gifts That Give a Little Every Single Day

11). A "happy light" for waking up during the dark winter ahead.

12). Or a white noise machine or sound soother for better sleeping.

13). A subscription to the meditation app Headspace plus a lovely-smelling candle (these burn for sixty hours!). And this year, Headspace has partnered with Askinosie Chocolate, a company that works directly with a female-led farmer group in Tanzania to provide a limited number of dark chocolate bars along with the purchase of a one-year subscription.

14). A sleek, sturdy, heat-retaining French press they'll be just as excited to use by their lonesome in the early morning as they will be to serve it to friends lingering over dessert. Buy a bag of beans and present the two gifts together.

15). Give the gift of good food (and handy kitchen know-how) with a set of cookbookshey, we know just the ones!—and a stand for propping it up. (Here are six other cookbook series we love.)

16). For the ultimate cozy fest, tuck a Netflix gift card into a fuzzy blanket or unbelievably soft robe.

Projects That Will Grow (& Prosper!)

17). Give your loved one the gift of oyster or shiitake mushrooms (translation: risotto! farro salad! creamy pasta!) for two years. It will take 6 to 12 months for the crop to emerge—offer to make them a mushroom-forward meal in the meantime.

18). With some water, a sunny spot, and this kit of five jars, you'll giftee will have fresh herbs to sprinkle and snip. The jars are outfitted with a passive hydroponic system, which means that they water themselves. (And kids will want to get involved, too.)

19). Give an all-included canning kit now and they'll be opening jars of applesauce and strawberry preserves in the future.

20). The bounty of microgreens from this miniature window garden will add flavor and cuteness to any dish your recipient dreams up.

Gifts That Will Be Passed On

21). Give a handmade biscuit cutter and your favorite recipe (on a handwritten note card).

22). An heirloom-in-the-making, this pewter ladle is inspired by antiques but shines like new; with careful upkeep—and lots of soups and punches—it’ll gain a beautiful patina and become the kind of utensil your giftee's offspring (and future ladle-owners) will treasure and tell stories about. And, for non-ladle options...

23). Originally used for baking loaves of bread, these enormous vintage German breadboards are the ideal platter for a feast of crudités or cheese. Your recipient can use it as a cutting board, too, so long as they wash it gently first. (P.S. It also makes a great, lightweight surface for budding food photographers.)

24). A favorite pan in the Food52 test kitchen, these criss-cross forged iron fry pans are scratch and cut resistant, which means they'll last long enough to pass down to future chefs.

Gifts That Give Back to the Planet

25). Spare a friend or relative from grody sponges and stained pots and pans. These washable, reusable pot scrubbers make it fun (is it possible?) to clean up even the most stubborn spots.

26). Remember what we said about grody sponges? Begone! Pack up these pristine Swedish sponges in a handy basket with a kit of all-natural cleaning supplies and a dish brush.

27). Reusable filters are friendlier for the environment (as is making coffee at home). For a larger present, give the Glass Handled Chemex, too.

28). These cotton tea bags—which accommodate pots and single mugs, alike—are designed to last for years. And they're not just for tea! Show how versatile they are when you present them: Fill some with wrapped candies or trail mix, tuck small jewelry into others, or turn a few into lavender sachets or potpourri. (And, of course, tea, teapots and mugs would also be logical accessories.)

29). Plastic baggies fill up landfills—and they're also not that good at their jobs. Stasher storage bags, on the other hand, are made of extra-durable silicone, and they're BPA-free, self-sealing, and airtight. They're also dishwasher- and microwave-safe and you can even use them for sous vide cooking or as a leak-proof toiletries bag. Stuff them into a canvas lunch bag, wrap the whole thing up, and your giftee will be well on his or her way to less sad desk lunches.

30). When the plastic wrap won't stick, when the oil is splattering, when the top to the pot is nowhere to be found, these round silicone lids (which you can buy individually or in a complete set of six), are here to save the day, every day.

Charitable Donations

For a gift that not only keeps on giving but that truly gives back, consider a donation in a loved one's name. You could choose a focused cause—perhaps they're passionate about a specific subject like STEM careers for women or wildlife conservation—or you could make a more general contribution to a food bank, homeless shelter, or crisis center.

Charity Navigator, GiveWell, and Charity Watch can serve as resources if you're having trouble deciding exactly where to give (or figuring out where your donation will go).

What gifts have you been given that keep on giving (and giving)?

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • bookjunky
  • EmilyC
  • Natalie Denyse
    Natalie Denyse
  • Jennifer
  • Susan McCurdy
    Susan McCurdy
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


bookjunky December 4, 2016
Dear student of English, I am sure you would like to know that the word is actually "grotty." Derived from "grotesque." Which a used sponge is decidedly so very often.
Sarah J. December 4, 2016
Thanks for letting me know! I was using the American slang term.
EmilyC December 2, 2016
Great list! That sock subscription is perfect for at least one person I know...
Natalie D. December 2, 2016
For new couples, The Good Beginning is a unique charitable wedding registry for those who are interested in starting a ritual of generosity through giving to an organization in need. Guests can be invited to contribute in lieu or in conjunction with a couple's traditional registry:
Jennifer December 2, 2016
My sister used to contribute a (homemade) "dessert of the month" to silent auctions--would also make a great gift for someone local.
Susan M. December 2, 2016
Great list! The 'happy light' link doesn't work and I'm really curious to see which one you suggest. :)
Sarah J. December 2, 2016
It's fixed now! I chose the one with good reviews and a reasonable price point, but truthfully, I have an old clunker that was a hand-me-down from my brother. This one I link to is smaller and portable!