Alternatives to sending flowers?
When a special occasion comes up (birthday, engagement, baby birth), I like to be unique and not send the cliched flower arrangement.
I'm looking for suggestions for interesting (preferably food oriented) flower arrangement-like things that can be sent through the mail with a minumum of effort on my part (order by phone or web, give credit card, arrangement shows up within 2 days with no further effort on my part.) Gift baskets are nice, but I prefer things that mimic flower arrangements.
One of my standbys has been cookie bouquets (at link below), and I've recently found out about a place that makes fresh fruit bouquets (http://www.ediblearrangements.com). Any other suggestions along these lines? Preferably costing about the same as the flowers: $40-$60, with delivery fees.
How about taking a tip from the best scene from the best movie Will Ferrell ever made? From "Stranger Than Fiction":
Harold Crick: [runs to Ana the baker with a box of 10 paper bags in it] I'm glad I caught you.
Ana Pascal: Oh yeah, why?
Harold Crick: 'Cause I, I wanted to bring these to you.
Ana Pascal: Oh really?
Harold Crick: Yeah.
Ana Pascal: So you can't accept gifts, but you can give them? Listen... That seems a little inconsistent, doesn't it Mr. Crick?
Harold Crick: Very inconsistent, yes
Ana Pascal: Alright, I'll tell you what, I'll purchase them!
[reaches into her bag to grab her wallet]
Harold Crick: No...
Ana Pascal: No, no, no, really, I'd like to purchase them
[with wallet in hand, stops to actually look at the box]
Ana Pascal: What are they?
Harold Crick: [quietly] Flours.
Ana Pascal: What?
Harold Crick: I brought you flours.
Ana Pascal: [see the sweetness of the gesture, then realizing he's carried 10 bags of flours] Um... , and you carried them all the way here?
Harold Crick: Miss Pascal, I've been odd, and I, I know I've been odd, and... I want you.
Ana Pascal: What?
Harold Crick: There there are many reasons, there are so many influences in my life, that are telling me, at times, quite literally, that I should come here and bring you these, but I'm doing this because I want you.
Ana Pascal: You want me?
Harold Crick: In no uncertain terms.
Harold Crick: Because I want you.
Ana Pascal: [realizing that he's really not being a creep and just a guy who's not used to saying what he feels] Well... I... isn't there some... very... clear and established... rule... about... fraternization?
Harold Crick: Auditor/Auditee protocol?
Ana Pascal: Yeah.
Harold Crick: Yeah, but I don't care. Why? Because I want you.
Ana Pascal: [contemplates him for a second, and looks back at the box] Well, you mind carrying those a little bit further?
[both say "Okay" and they walk away]
how would French chocolates handmade by awarding winning chocolatiers sound?
There is a website, zchocolat.com that contracts with some of the best chocolatiers in France. the gifts all look beautiful regardless of budget you have. the wrapping and details like notecard are excellent too. shipping is 3-5 days (i live in nyc, and its 4 days from france to here).
occasionally (on special holidays) they offer a l'Occitane bath and beauty product in conjunction with the gift box.
anyway, if you want, check them out.
click link for 10% off first order.
I've used this company many times and they are excellent. In fact, I first used them because I was shipping to France. I went to Paris for Valentine's Day and wanted some French chocolates and champagne waiting in the hotel room for my SO. I ordered a box similar to the one below - stacked with drawers that you pulled out, each filled with chocolates. Packaged beautifully, great customer service, and, of course, THOSE chocolates. It was a nice surprise for him.
I send flowering easy to care for plants rather than flowers--they last longer. Anyone you use to send cut flowers can advise you on plants. My favorite food gifts are Harry and David pears and Hershey novelty items. My standard thank you gift is a Hershey chocolate computer--they write your personalized note on the screen. It's always a big hit.
I wouldn't eat it myself. But it does make a great gift for nonChowhounds. (Face facts--we're posting in a microcosm here. 99% of the people I work and play with do not understand my Chowhound obsession. What does Jim say on the opening page? We're one in ten? I think that's a little high.)
It's traditional, which means that we grew up on it, and for me it brings back taste memories of my childhood. Hershey's milk chocolate is a distinctly different style than other milk chocolates available, especially European premium ones.
They may be more expensive, they may melt in your mouth better, but they don't taste like a Hershey's kiss. That's why the only milk chocolate I like is Hershey's.
Yeah, I can understand that. I guess it's exactly Hershey's "different" taste that I dislike. I grew up in Eastern Europe eating bad Czech chocolate (it's much better now), but every now and then distant relatives from Austria visited and brought us kids a milk chocolate bar each. The brand was Milka, with the purple cow. That chocolate was like ambrosia to us and we reverently kept the wrappers (even the inside foil) for years.
I still get a Milka every time I get a chance to. they have it in some German groceries in Yorkville. It's very sweet, very melty.
And if your giftee is just a simple country bumpkin, like me, he or she will appreciate a delivery from Hickory Farms. I have used them to gift business associates and every once in a while when I get a craving for some Hickory Farms Beefstick, I order a couple for myself.
They are very good about customer service. On one of my orders for two Beefsticks, one of the Beefsticks had some mold on it (between the paper wrapper on the Beefstick and the vacuum plastic it was encased in.) I just scraped off the mold and enjoyed the Beefstick. I then told Hickory Farms about it, and told them that I just scraped off the mold and ate the product, they immediately sent me a free replacement Beefstick.
In addition to the usual cheese and sausages, they also have nuts, fruits, candies and other items in their catalog.
Hickory Farms may not be haute cuisine, but they are one of the granddaddies of mailorder food and do a good job of customer fulfilment.
Recently I've sent a number of gifts from Zingerman's deli in Ann Arbor (www.zingermans.com). I enrolled several people in either their bread club or their cheese club (they have several other clubs as well--brownies, for example). They also have a number of special baskets for a variety of special occasions. I've sent baskets to newlyweds, college students, new parents, etc. I have had total success so far--everything delivered exactly when I've requested, and rave reviews on the food.
My favorite to give (or receive) has got to be Shari's Berries, a Sacramento company which has gone national. Shari coats the biggest, most yummy strawberries you've ever seen with white and dark chocolate, in pretty designs. Boxes them in an attractive manner, then will overnight ship them anywhere in the USA..........I have to admit, I once sent them to myself!
Wow, some cool places that I'll have to check out next time. I used to use Balduccis.com, but the last few times I checked, their site was gone. In their absence, I like to send bagels and lox from zabar's (www.zabars.com) or some chocolates or other goodies from deananddeluca.com.
Depending on how houndy the person is, I sometimes send the mozzarella making kit from www.cheesemaking.com.
I've had some of these sites bookmarked (including the cookie ones and Edible Arrangements). Here's a couple more although I've never used them.
One is candy "arrangements":
Another cookie one:
And this one is another along the lines of Edible Arrangements:
Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, MA will put together lovely cheese and food baskets. I sent one to friends in Michigan last year and it was a big hit. I had the cheese guy throw in an assortment of cheeses and crackers, gave them a card and they mailed it right out. I don't know what the final product looked like, but I do know that the cheeses arrived there immediately and safely.
Gotta give a plug for Formaggio Kitchen. They have remarkable cheeses; in fact, quite possibly the best cheese shop this side of the Big Lake (Atlantic).
And in Boston, you can't say this too often, but that includes NYC.
Their speciality is artisan made, unpasteurized cheeses.
Ihsan Gurdal (only met him once) the owner is a nice guy who really cares about his cheeses.
Below I have attached a link to an article about Formaggio that ran in the March Wine Spectator.
Didn't even know they did gift baskets. You could blow someone's mind with a basket from from Formaggio!
We (here, where I work) usually send a gift via Manhattan Fruitier. I'm personally not a fan of fruit baskets, but everyone who has received one from them has raved about it. They put together all sorts of composite edible gifts, like cheeses and seasonal-theme mixes. I believe that they ship to most of North America.
I remember when fruit baskets were just dreadful -- underripe bananas and mealy Delicious apples, with some bad candy thrown in (if you were lucky), all wrapped up in hideous cellophane. I know they've come a long way, but an old friend's witticism still rings in my head: Nothing says "F*** You" like a fruit basket.
re: Nancy Berry
I found what I thought was a delightful alternative to sending flowers.... a website that assembles what appear to be wonderful cheese tasting platters and overnights them carefully from France. The place is called fromages.com.
However, much to my horror, when I received the "thank you" call from the person I had sent the arrangement to, I was warned that what had arrived was an inedible MESS... and, to make matters worse, fromages.com will not offer a credit, replacement or even an apology.
Just a word of warning!
I have ordered from Fromages.com for myself and as gifts (including to a remote country location) on a number of occasions and each time the items have arrived at the time requested and in impeccable condition.
I am sorry that your problem was not addressed, and intend to send your note on to their management.