6 December 20163 Sweet-Free Holiday Gift Ideas

Many people give chocolate, cookies, brownies, cake, and other holiday treats to their friends and loved ones as holiday gifts. And there is nothing wrong with that if the receiver truly wants them. But if someone has told you in the past that they struggle with weight gain, binge eating, or sky high blood glucose levels during the holidays, then it might be time to think about a different holiday gift. A gift of sweets could be more of a burden than a delight. And of course, if they have told you explicitly not to give them sweets, then give them something else. Here are three ideas for relatively inexpensive gifts that are not sweets.


Many home cooks do not buy good quality spices, so this could be a real treat for the right person. You can buy spices online that are prepackaged and shipped for you – a real time-saver. Or you can go to a local spice shop and buy spices in bulk, package in your own small containers (you can buy these from craft and container stores), and send via the mail. For the economically minded, you can put the spices in their own small plastic baggies (be sure to label the bags with the contents) mail in a padded envelope.

There are many online spice shops, but my favorite is Savory Spice®. Here are just a few spices that I think would make great gifts (and are so good I buy them year after year):


  • Mulling Spices (for the holidays – great with cider or wine)
  • Ground Supreme Saigon Cassia Cinnamon (knock your socks off cinnamon flavor)
  • Indonesian Cassia Cinnamon Sticks (more awesome bold cinnamon flavor)

Salt & Pepper

  • Truffle Sea Salt (heavenly on veggies and eggs – a little goes a long way)
  • Bourbon Barrel Smoked Black Pepper (heavenly on eggs)


  • Ground Cumin Seeds (you will never buy supermarket cumin again after using this)
  • Medium Yellow Curry Powder (richer flavor and more heat than mild curry)
  • Harissa Spice Mix (makes cooked veggies dance, especially cauliflower)
  • Hungarian Sweet Paprika (rich flavor)
  • Mt. Evans Butcher’s Rub (great on grilled meats – my husband’s favorite for pork chops)

Tip: For those of you in the U.S., the U.S. Postal Service has a Priority small box (8.5 in long x 5.25 in wide x 1.5 in tall) that sends any weight in 2-3 days for $6.80. Small spice containers fit nicely in this size mailer.

Coffee & Tea

Many of us drink coffee or tea everyday of our lives but we often don’t buy ourselves the best quality simply due to cost. But it’s really nice to get the best as a gift.

If you plan to give coffee or tea to someone as a gift, first find out what form of coffee or tea is preferred. For coffee drinkers, do they use whole beans, ground coffee, or perhaps pods? For tea drinkers, do they use loose-leaf tea or tea bags? Do they prefer regular or caffeine-free? If you don’t do this leg work, then chances are your gift will not be consumed.

Tip: consider shopping at your local specialty tea or coffee shop if you are lucky enough to live near one. But if not, there are many online specialty tea and coffee shops. I have found Tea Forte® to be very nice for gifts and they have both loose leaf and tea bag box sets.

Mini Art – Fancy Cards

Do you live near an art gallery or a community art coop? Then check out cards made by local artists. For under $10, you could send someone a unique card that is basically a mini work of art. Just be sure to put the correct postage on the card if you mail it – square cards (vs. rectangles) and heavier cards will cost more to send.

Here’s to enjoyable gift giving and receiving, and to your health this holiday season!

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Holidays / Parties/Healthier Gift Ideas Holidays / Parties/Winter Holiday Season

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