Whether you’re looking to finish your holiday shopping or you’re looking for the after-party for some serious holiday cheer, I gotcha covered.
Delicious last-minute deals
First, let’s be clear. It’s only Dec. 10. If you’re like me, we have a loooong way to go before it’s truly the very last minute. Because what if I find an even more perfect gift for you next week at the place I haven’t thought of yet? Exactly.
But you can’t go wrong with these gift ideas, so no worries.
The easiest/best/most appreciated/unsung hero gift of anytime is the fantastic gift card. You can get them at nearly every restaurant in the area, many don’t have an expiration date, and it’s a gift of both food and an experience, which creates memories, which last forever. Like I said, perfect.
And if you’re real smart about your gift card purchases, you’ll find plenty of places offering promotions or gift card “sales” right now.
At Victoria’s Ristorante and Wine Bar during the month of December only, for every $100 in gift cards you buy, they’ll give you a $20 card for yourself. Vino in the Valley over in Maiden Rock, Wis., has the same buy $100, get $20 gift card deal going — if you do that, be sure to stop by Vino on a weekend this month when they have Belgian horse-drawn sleigh rides through the vineyards on offer.
At Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery in Spring Valley, $100 in gift cards will get you a $20 “bonus card,” but it has to be used in January or February of next year. You can get a multi-restaurant gift card at The Loop or Five West, good for those two restaurants or three more in the Twin Cities area owned by the same group. They’re also running the $100/$20 deal for the month of December.
My favorite homemade ice cream shop, Flapdoodles, has an even lower price of admission for a give-and-receive deal. There, getting a $25 gift card gets you a coupon for a free regular serving of ice cream or hot cocoa. Sweet!
ZZest Cafe and Bar has ready-made, foodie gift boxes for everyone on your list for a quick pick-up-and-go gift. But they’re also encouraging the gift of an experience — and instead of a gift card, at ZZest you can gift a chef tasting meal. A $45 per person tasting includes three courses, or add wine for $65 per person. These tastings are created by ZZest’s executive chef Justin Schoville, and if you know his work, that’s all you need to know right there. If you haven’t experienced Schoville’s talents, just trust me: Pick your very favorite person and give them a chef’s tasting, then invite yourself along.
And finally, if your recipient values things handmade, farm-raised, or local, be sure to visit the last Rochester Downtown Farmers Market of the year next weekend, when they’ll host a special holiday market on Dec. 19 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds.
In addition to dairy, meat, and produce (lots of cold-hardy root vegetables but a few surprises like December tomatoes, thanks to greenhouses!), look for baked and canned products, goat milk soap, holiday floral arrangements, wreaths, candles, and homemade candies. You can also get gift certificates to the farmers market itself.
Next week: Party time
I’ve heard talk of a few parties happening around the holidays and New Year’s Eve at area restaurants, but I want more! Drop me an email, and let me know: What restaurant party will you be celebrating at this year?