Sometimes it’s the little things. Sure, we all dream about tearing into a house-sized package at some point during the holidays, but a smartly-selected gadget or jar of good stuff can really get us going. Here are the gifts you can give by the bucket, stocking stuffers for $25 and under, from the perfect hot sauce to better pickles to snack-sized salami to must-have kitchen essentials. And, if for some reason your holiday celebration ends early and you don’t finish that bottle of Champagne, we have a cork for that.
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An Indian Pickle to Relish
Achaar is the broad class of Indian oil pickles, rich and pungent, sometimes dangerously hot and salty. But Brooklyn Delhi’s achaar is delightfully balanced, a substantial improvement over most mass-market brands in Indian grocery stores. A classic tomato version is as good spooned over daal as on avocado toast, and the rhubarb-ginger flavor may be your new favorite sweet-and-savory yogurt topping. Brooklyn Delhi Achaar, $8.75 for 6 ounces from Brooklyn Delhi
Victorinox Serrated Paring Knife with Sheath
Everyone needs a paring knife for small tasks like cutting citrus, and the serrated edge on this one means you won’t have to spend much time sharpening it. It’s lightweight and portable, but durable enough to handle any kitchen job a weightier knife can do. Victorinox Serrated Paring Knife with Sheath, $9 from Swiss Knife Shop
Barking Up the Right Tree
Like maple syrup? It’s only the beginning. For the past 25 years in Trafalgar, Indiana (population 1,100), husband-and-wife Gordon Jones and Sherrie Yarling of Hickoryworks have been using an old Native American recipe to make syrups with the barks of local Shagbark Hickory and Poplar trees. Tree bark syrup is made from the bark itself. It’s aged and then boiled with nine different sweeteners until it cooks down to a syrup that’s slightly thinner than maple. The shagbark hickory is nutty and smoky, the poplar lighter and more floral. Pour them over pancakes, or get mixing and put them to work in cocktails. In 1997, the couple sent Julia Child a bottle of hickory syrup on her 85th birthday, and she replied with a postcard saying she loved mixing a few drops into whiskey or bourbon to form a smoky marinade for ribs. The syrup can also be poured over pancakes, added to baked goods, and mixed into sauces—basically used any way you would use maple syrup. But Gordon’s favorite? “I love it with baked beans.” HickoryWorks Tree Bark Syrups, $15 for 8 oz. at hickoryworks.homestead.com.
We’ve heard you can stick a metal spoon upside down into a half-drank bottle of sparkling wine to keep it fresh. But this stopper works much better. It fits just about every bottle and will keep those bubbles dancing for days. Champagne Stopper, $5.95 from Crate and Barrel
Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce
Keep your sriracha. This Belizean hot sauce, which rarely gets its due in grocery stores, has the perfect balance of acidity with sweetness and heat from the peppers. It’s habanero-based, but carrots are blended in too, and their subtle sweetness makes all the difference. Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce, $5.99 for ten ounces from Amazon
Kuhn Rikon Straight Peeler
Hands down the best peeler around. It’s lightweight and durable with a sharp, sturdy blade that won’t balk at butternut squash, and its Y-shape makes for a much more controlled and comfortable peeling experience that covers more ground with each swipe. Kuhn Rikon Straight Peeler, $4 from Williams-Sonoma
You don’t need steak sauce, but you may need Salsa Lizano, a Costa Rican staple that’s less spicy and more savory than A1, versatile enough to drizzle over eggs, slip into pan sauces, or serve over steak. It’s everything we love in a small gift: part familiar, part unexpected. Salsa Lizano, $10 from Amazon
Evak Glass Storage Container
Evak’s glass storage containers have moveable lids that you can plunge up or down to adjust the container’s volume to exactly the contents inside. They don’t just keep air out; they also prevent ambient air from making contact with the spices, tea, coffee, or whatever else you store inside. Now that’s fresh. Evak Glass Storage Container, $24.99 for medium size from Prepara