Okay, we’re down to the wire here, and you – procrastinating you – still have Christmas presents to procure. Here’s a list of some last-minute inexpensive and slightly eccentric Christmas gifts that you might order…like now! 

  • Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker. I was initially skeptical of this device, which turns frozen bananas and just about any other fruit into an all-natural, low-cal, ice cream-like confections. You freeze the fruit beforehand and then run it through the machine. It really works. The treats we created with this approximately $45 machine are very close to ice cream, but they contain no cream (and accompanying calories): the banana smooths out the texture and, because it’s all just fruit, the flavors are pure and clean.

  • Mediterra Snack Bars. Mediterra makes a line of savory snack bars that are pretty interesting.  If you’re not a fan of sweet (i.e., most) snack bars, you might prefer savory alternative flavors, including sun-dried tomato & basil or black olive & walnut. You can get a pack of $12 for around $24.

  • Scoop Saw. This a fun stocking stuffer for the kitchen-minded. It’s a tool that has a knife in the handle to cut open, for instance, squash, and a scoop to remove the seeds. It’s around ten bucks and will be appreciated by anyone who likes to eat squash…and this is the season for it. Also works for melon; #10.

  • Tavolo cutting mats. Sets of two Tavolo cutting mats graphically indicate measurements (how big is a one-half cup pile of diced carrots? The mat shows you) and cutting sizes so you don’t have to guess if you’re cutting julienne or brunoise (This is a big problem!). The set costs $15, and you can get these mats at Sur La Table, Amazon and many other sites.

  • Three Queens Maple Syrup. My absolute favorite Christmas gift to send to out-of-town friends and relatives is Three Queens maple syrup.  This is a local Oak Park company (though the maple trees are in Wisconsin), and the syrup itself is superb. I’d recommend going for the “very dark” variety, as it seems most flavorful. You can order online and they’ll ship it direct for you; cost per bottle is around $12. Or you can go to their store on Harrison. (you can also get bottles of the stuff – and even buy in bulk – at Sugar Beet).

And the best part of shopping like this: you can do a lot of it at the computer, without even leaving the house, risking your life in traffic, etc. Now go, go…!

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...