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Dallas foodies: Here’s what to buy for the perfect holiday gift basket

Follow this rhyme and buy 5 things. You can’t imagine the joy you’ll bring.

Each year, I assemble holiday gift baskets filled with some of my favorite foodie finds. They often go to aunts or uncles, to my kids’ teachers, or to a hostess as a thank-you for a lovely evening.

Some of the items are local, some aren’t; some can be pricey, some aren’t. Avoid anything that needs to be refrigerated.

The best holiday gift basket is one that’s filled with things you love — items you think others will love, too.

How to assemble a great holiday gift basket? Just add ...

Something boozy, something sweet

Something bougie, something cheap

... And a spice would be nice.

For something boozy, Lockwood Distilling Co.’s bourbon cream liqueur ($24.99) is a surprisingly versatile gift. I’ve seen party-goers open it at the end of the night and splash it into a cup of coffee. I’ve tried it in a White Russian in place of Kahlúa — or in a Colorado Bulldog, which I like even better. I’ve heard that some folks even mix it up in their waffle batter or bread pudding.

In my gift box this year, I also included a not-boozy bottle of Papa Scott’s bloody Mary mix ($12). It’s a 60-year-old recipe made by a small businessowner in Dallas. Mix it with vodka for a typical Bloody, with beer for a Michelada-like cocktail, or leave it alone for a slightly spicy, tomato based mocktail.

Be sure you know whether your gift-getter is a drinker before you go packing it with booze.

For something sweet, I can’t resist Lindt’s “a touch of sea salt” dark chocolate ($3.99). You could buy more expensive chocolate elsewhere, but it’s not better than this one. A single square after dinner is the perfect end to any meal.

For something bougie, reach for a kitchen splurge that’s fun yet functional. In my house, we keep running out of DeCarlo pepperoncino olive oil from Eataly ($10.90). Nobody needs a tiny bottle of spicy olive oil, which is exactly why it makes a great gift: You friend probably wouldn’t buy it for herself. Once you drizzle it on spaghetti, shake it in a hearty soup or slather it on bread with some butter, you’re going to start buying your own bougie olive oil. (Sorry in advance!)

For something cheap, get a gift card to a local restaurant or shop. The smaller the better: Consider this a way to entice a friend to try out your favorite place. I bought $10 to Window Seat, my family’s favorite coffee shop in East Dallas. It’s just enough to cover a latte and a pastry.

For a finisher, toss in a spice. Because it’s nice. If you’re a home cook, pick the spice you keep coming back to. And don’t overthink it; it’s not time to pretend you love za’atar (a Middle Eastern mix of sesame seeds, oregano, thyme, marjoram and sumac) if that’s not a match for your home-cooked dinners. Me, I’ve started tossing Trader Joe’s onion salt ($1.99) in everything, from my kids’ mac and cheese to the turkey taco salad we make on weekday evenings. And hey! The Kitchn says it’s “far more interesting than most onion salts out there.” It has to be one of the least expensive ones, too.

Here’s where to buy each item:

  • Lockwood Distilling’s bourbon cream liqueur is available at all major liquor stores in North Texas. (Or, if you want to sample it first, visit Lockwood’s two family-owned bars, in Richardson and Fort Worth.)
  • Papa Scott’s Bloody Mary Mix is available online.
  • Lindt chocolate is available at nearly every grocery store, plus some specialty shops like World Market.
  • DeCarlo pepperoncino olive oil comes from Eataly at NorthPark Center in Dallas.
  • Local gift cards should come from any small business!
  • And the onion salt is a Trader Joe’s product, available at any of the nine stores in North Texas.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.

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