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Gifting Cookbooks

Now that the sorry thread of insulted gift-receiver has met its well-deserved end, I'd like to ask fellow hounds how they chose cookbooks to give as gifts. Do you give books on cuisines you're sure will please, or ones that might nudge a friend in a new direction? Personally, I love to get a cookbook gift from someone who has cooked from that book and loved it. (Even more appreciated are favorite recipes scribbled on food-smeared bits of paper.) What's you approach?

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  1. I don't give cookbooks to anyone I don't know very well - usually just my mother, sister and sister-in-law. I try to get them something that fits with their style of cooking. For example, my SIL likes straightforward cooking and baking so I might get her a Barefoot Contessa book while my mom likes to branch out a bit so I got her Sunday Suppers at Lucques, which she loved. I collect cookbooks myself so I will usually give a book that I also have so I know the recipes will work.

    1. Generally I dont give cookbooks unless I have used and like the book myself. Sometimes these gifts work, sometimes not, usually because I am trying uselessly to move the recipient in a new direction. Better to give a gift that fits with how they view themselves than try to "develop their taste" My parents have finally given back a number of very good books I gave them.

      ps why not use the word "giving"?

      1 Reply
      1. re: jen kalb

        "Giving means many things." "Gifting" is an informal shorthand for "giving as a gift."

      2. I only buy cookbooks for people I know well (e.g. sister, good friend into cooking). For my sister, I might buy her something she's requested (or something I might have heard her mention). For a good friend, something on a cuisine she is interested in or an appliance she may have recently purchased. I don't try to send them in a new direction (although I would love it if someone bought something different for me). Since my good, culinarily inclined friends and I are far flung, we don't get a chance to indulge in the "food-smeared" recipe sheets--we only email them these days!

        1. The only folks I've bought Cbs for were my daughter and DIL. The first ones for my daughter were the basic books she'd been eating from out of my kitchen. After that, it became for both of them, cookbooks that I'd cooked several dishes that each of them had liked, and (I'm one of those folks who write in their Cbs) my notes handwritten in each one, copied off my original notes in the book. Beyond that, I'd only do it if someone was specifically lusting for a particular book. (And I wouldn't write in it.)

          1. Sur La Table gift card, or tuck a gift receipt in at the table of contents. Buying a cookbook as a gift is a crapshoot. For someone who loves to cook, it can be quite a challenge to buy a cookbook for them. Odds are good that if they love the book enough, they already own a copy of it. One good thing to do is chat endlessly about food over dinner somewhere. It should be fairly easy to steer the conversation towards if there's any new cookbooks they've seen. "Oh, I got this AMAZING cookbook the other day, have you seen it?"

            6 Replies
            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              Be sure to mention the gift card or gc. The book could end up going on the shelf or to Good Will without being opened if it's not a good match.

              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                If you're going to buy a cookbook as a gift, don't do it at Barnes and Noble. They are really inflexible with the 14-day return policy, even if you received it as a gift. I tried to return a book that I got as a gift (with the gift receipt) a year or two ago. They refused to accept it because the book was purchased more than 14 days ago. The gift giver purchased the book but didn't give it to me within the 14 days. So I was really out of luck when I tried to exchange it (as I already have 3 copies at home), and the company wouldn't budge, even with a call to the corporate office. Their rigid return policies make Barnes and Noble to be a poor choice when it comes to purchasing a book to give as a gift.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Meanwhile, at Borders, you can return an item within 30 days with the original receipt for a refund, or 60 days with a gift receipt for a gift card.

                  But my vote is still for your Friendly Local Book Store.

                    1. re: nofunlatte

                      We have 2 in our smallish town, and they are heavy on the cookbooks, some rather obscure.

                      1. re: nofunlatte

                        There are more than you think. They tend to hide well.