Caprese Salad from the compilation “Updegraph Family Recipes,” a labor of love gifted from columnist Sande Updegraph to her sons. Sande Updegraph / For The Forecaster

Food and beverage gifts are perfect and fun for the holidays – not so much for the items themselves but for the experiences and memories they provide.

I think the most special food gift is a record of your family’s food history through recipes, stories and memories. Several years ago, I purchased a three-ring binder for each of my sons and began filling it with copies of recipes I had collected from my mother and mother-in-law throughout the years. Many of these recipes were simply ingredient lists or comments about how to construct a dish. I worked to update, annotate and retype some of our family favorites and slipped the current instructions along with copies of the original notes into plastic page protectors to fit into the binders. Each holiday season I add a few more. My sons and their families recall wonderful memories as they re-create each dish.

Sande Updegraph lives in Brunswick and is a longtime food writer. She can be reached at

My husband often gives me an array of dining cards that we can enjoy together. Eating out is one of our favorite indulgences. Sometimes they even require travel, like the trip to New Orleans just for brunch at Brennan’s. Gift cards are easy and available everywhere from food stores to high-end restaurants.

Don’t forget the endless possibilities with homemade goodies. One year, I gifted two dozen cookies per month for six months to a very good friend. I even delivered them. My family really enjoyed the leftovers.

Several years ago when I lived in El Paso, Texas, and owned a wine and craft beer shop called The Vintage Year, I specialized in creating unusual gift baskets. Hands down, the most popular was the Case of Your Dreams, with 24 different craft beers wrapped in cellophane and tied with a huge ribbon. We carried over 125 specialty brews – which was remarkable at the time – so there was a lot to choose from. Today, creating a dream case is easy. Supermarkets even provide empty six-pack holders you can fill from their shelves.

Cooking classes are something two or more people can enjoy together. The Black Tie Company has a list of fun topics from January through April at its kitchens on Union Wharf in Portland. Classes are held Friday evenings and the cost for most is $65/person at

And then there are cooking publications. I just finished Stanley Tucci’s latest book, “Taste: My Life through Food,” a delightful and lyrical memoir, including his own adaptations of classic Italian recipes. Edible Maine is a glorious food advocacy magazine published four times per year that discusses local events, growers, creative food manufacturers, connecting with your food and supporting local food resources. The cost is $36/year at The enjoyment for food lovers is much higher than the cost.

Don’t forget wine region trips conducted by Wine Wise Events with Sommelier Erica Archer as your guide. In 2022, you will visit French wine-producing areas like the Loire Valley and Champagne, Tuscany and Cinque Terre in Italy, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of California, and Rioja in Spain. These trips are for small groups only and can be booked at

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