One of the best ways to say "I love you" or "I appreciate you" or "I'm sorry" or... anything, really, is through the gift of food. But when you're miles away from the person you'd like to gift that food to, what's a person to do?
The gift of food by mail has been popular for years — I remember my grandparents regularly shipping boxes of Florida naval oranges up to us in chilly Pittsburgh every year when they went down in search of warmer weather.
But while your options for mail order food gifts used to be limited to Harry & David or more generic gift basket fare from 1800 Baskets (both of which are owned by the same company and have excellent food gifts, tbh) there are more places than ever before now offering thoughtful, unique, creative food gifts designed to be shipped through the mail.
I spent much of 2019 and 2020 on the opposite side of the country from my family and with the pandemic keeping us apart for birthdays and holidays, I got extremely good at finding unique, thoughtful food gifts to send by mail.
So with the holiday season approaching I thought it was time to put together a list of my favorite places that sell unique mail order food gifts for you to use!
I've stuck mostly to places I've ordered food gifts from or from where other people have sent me food gifts by mail. I'll update this list periodically as I find new places for shipping unique mail order food gifts and other great companies packaging food gifts you can ship to your friends and loved ones.
If there's one I've missed or you think I should check out, leave a comment below!
Things to think about
Here's what you'll want to consider when picking the best mail order food gifts for whoever you're sending them to.
- Are you sure they'll be home? Do they need to sign for it? If you think you'll be cutting it close to a time when they're on vacation or at work, consider making alternate arrangements for delivery or pick a gift that isn't perishable!
- Shipping costs. Food is often more expensive to ship, particularly if its perishable. If you're looking to send a perishable food gift, assume at least $15 shipping at an absolute minimum.
- Do they like cooking? Or do they like eating? You'll want to mail them a food gift that they'll actually use! If they like cooking, spices are great. If they like eating, consider something that doesn't need any preparation to enjoy. If they like both, well, sky's the limit.
- How many people do they live with? This doesn't apply to every situation, but is worth considering — make sure there's enough to go around.
- How long do they have to eat it before it goes bad? The best mail order food gifts are non-perishables, but if you're sending something that has a shorter shelf life, send a portion that is reasonable for them to eat (or freeze) within a week without having to be wasteful.
1. Goldbelly — ship restaurant food nationwide
Goldbelly is a nationwide food delivery service that has partnered with restaurants and chefs to bring their most famous dishes to homes across the country. If you're looking for a way to put dinner on someone else's table — Goldbelly has plenty to choose from.
Whether you're looking for gourmet food gifts like Momofuku's Bo Ssäm dinner, farm-to-table unique food gifts like Amish butter or Pinkglow pineapples, or gifts from celebrity TV chefs like Carla Hall and Guy Fieri, Goldbelly really does have something for everyone.
You can even search by region to find mail order food gifts from local restaurants like the famous burnt almond torte from Prantl's Bakery (Pittsburgh, PA), the Baltimore Bomb Pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies (Baltimore, MD), or two-dozen bagels from H&H bagels (New York, NY).
Budget: We're shipping perishable food here, so most of Goldbelly's mail order food gift options start around $70. If you've ever ordered flowers, Goldbelly's ordering system works similarly — you pick a date for delivery and shipping rates can vary by time of year, availability, etc.
Shop Goldbelly here!
2. Spicewalla — beautifully packaged spices and cookbook gift sets
Founded by Meherwan Irani, a five-time James Beard award winning chef, Spicewalla sells high-quality spices in beautiful, colorful packaging that look great in any kitchen.
I'm a big fan of giving cookbooks as gifts along with some relevant spices or tools, so I love that Spicewalla sells gift sets pairing cookbooks with the spices your gift recipient will need to make those recipes.
Budget: $15-100+ with free shipping over $25 in the United States. They're a small company and orders take 3-5 days to process, so just keep in mind this isn't a food gift you can ship overnight for next day delivery.
Shop Spicewalla here!
3. Omsom — Dinner time savers (and dinner timesavers)
Founded by sisters Kim and Vanessa Pham, Omson roared onto the market a little over a year ago with their pre-packaged "starters" (packets of sauce and seasonings) representing different regional flavors across Asia.
They are the perfect gift for the busy person who loves trying new food and loves cooking but doesn't always have the time.
Each of Omsom's starters was created in partnership with a chef specializing in that region's cooking style and flavors, comes with two suggested recipes, and serves 2-3 people. They're absolutely packed with flavor, and make getting dinner on the table quickly a breeze.
Budget: $14-$70 with free shipping over $35 and free, same-day delivery in NYC, SF, LA, and Chicago
Shop Omsom here!
4. Art of Tea — Curated tea gift sets
Any tea lover would be thrilled to receive one of these tea gift sets from L.A.-based Art of Tea.
They have a variety of tea-themed gift sets to choose from, including tea for two, boxes with tea-scented candles, beautifully packaged tea samplers, and more. They also sell tea subscription packages which make great gifts.
Shop The Art of Tea here!
5. Murray's Cheese — the gift of gourmet cheese by mail
Who doesn't love cheese??? Murray's Cheese, the New York City based artisanal cheese and gourmet food shop as a wide selection of mail order cheese, charcuterie, and other gourmet gifts.
They have lots of mail order subscription and "of the month" options available, too!
Shop Murray's Cheese here!
6. Etsy — Mail order food gifts from small independent creators
From cookies and chocolates to honey samplers, spice blends, popcorn kits, and more, Etsy's army of small independent creators has literally thousands of food gifts ready to be shipped.
What I particularly like about ordering food gifts to mail through Etsy is that, because these come from small creators, they often offer lots of customization and personalization so you can be sure the food gift you're shipping is truly unique! And your gift recipient will 100% appreciate that extra touch.
At the same time, because Etsy creators are small business owners and many of these orders are custom-made, definitely place your orders in advance. You can't expect overnight or two-day delivery, so make sure you a lot plenty of time for delivery!
Shop Etsy Food Gifts here!
7. Hot n Saucy — Small batch hot sauce with unique flavors
Hot N Saucy makes small batch hot sauces in colorful bottles with unique flavors. I'm a big fan of the Black Garlic N Peri Peri sauce (mix with mayo as a dip for fries) but the Garlic N Peperoncini sauce is the true fan favorite with over 50,000 bottles sold. It even appeared in the lineup of hot sauces used in season 14 of Hot Ones on YouTube!
The unique flavors of these hot sauces make a great shippable gift for your friends who aren't afraid to handle some heat.
Shop Hot N Saucy here!
8. The Spice House — Curated spice collections from around the world
The Spice House's curated gift collections of spices are packaged perfectly for easy shipping and gifting. From kitchen essential collections to regional spice sets and more, The Spice House has so many great gift sets for all types of cooks.
One of the things I like best about The Spice House is how many varieties of spices they have in stock. They don't just have cinnamon, they have three different types of cinnamon in a variety pack so you can really learn the difference between types of spices and how to use them! A perfect gift for the discerning cook or baker. Check out their other spice variety packs too!
Flat packs from The Spice House always ship free, so many sure you also check out their new Exact Packs which are designed to make creating specific recipes a breeze.
Shop The Spice House here!
9. Food52 — Gourmet subscriptions, tasting collections, and artisanal treats
Some of the best "wow, this is so cool!" gifts I've ever given have come from Food52's eclectic, gourmet collection of shippable food gifts. Their whole store is filled with the kinds of gifts people never see coming, but are so excited to receive.
From a gin-making kit to the salami of the month club, to a variety of specialty olive oils, vinegars, chocolates, and cocktail accoutrements, there's plenty to choose from for even the most discerning palates.
Shop Food52 here!
10. Milkbar Store — Christina Tosi's iconic baked goods
It makes me so happy that Milkbar's signature naked layer cakes, truffles, and Milkbar Pie are all able to be shipped through the mail?
The cakes and pie are super sturdy and designed to be frozen and defrosted which makes them ideal for shipping, while the truffles come in fun mini packages of three for long-term snacking.
I've shipped (and have received) plenty of these as care packages and for birthdays and they always arrive on time and in great shape. And again, they're designed to be frozen and refrozen, so there's no pressure on your giftee to eat a whole cake at once.
While Milkbar does also ship ice cream and cookies, I... don't personally like them — the flavors just aren't for me. So if you know someone who loves a Milkbar cookie or Milkbar ice cream, by all means, ship 'em! But if you're not sure they like them, I don't recommend dropping a lot of money to get them there by mail!
Shop Milkbar here!
11. The Yum-Yum Shop — Small bakery shipping delicious baked goods
The Yum-Yum Shop is one of my favorite places to visit when I'm up in New Hampshire, and their iconic Gingieboxes were my pandemic care package of choice in 2020. Their gingerbread cookies ("Gingies") are soft and chewy with just the right amount of spice.
A box comes with 24 cookies plus two huge tubs of frosting and a piping bag for optional decorating.
I honestly don't know how they do it, but the Gingie cookies stay soft and chewy for at least a week after opening — a long time for a baked good! They're so good.
They also sell "essence of gingerbread man" soap, other swag, and a variety of breads ready to ship by mail — including their white mountain bread which is perfect for making bread bowls.
12. Harney & Sons — Thoughtfully curated tea collections in beautiful packaging
Harney & Sons is a family owned, third generation tea company known for high quality teas in a variety of bold flavors in beautiful packaging. Their impeccably curated gift sets are themed by flavor and mood, in addition to boxed variety gift packs.
These tea sets make the perfect shippable gifts — tea is super lightweight! — and will definitely be appreciated by your tea loving friends.
Shop Harney & Sons here!
13. Cookies by Design — Decorated cookie bouquets, cookie cakes, and platters
Okay, how cute are these cookie bouquets??? Cookies by Design offers literally hundreds of themed cookie bouquets, and "BouTrays" (which include a cookie platter), as well as cookie cakes and more.
Your friends and loved ones will love getting the gift of tasty, personalized, beautifully decorated cookies in the mail.
Budget: $36-100+ with some cakes and bouquets available with same-day shipping options.
14. Uncommon Goods — Quirky food gifts with a sense of humor
Most of Uncommon Goods' food gifts are DIY food kits, but they also have a pretty good selection of quirky, funny, and beautifully designed food gifts. Almost all of the items on offer are non-perishable which makes them perfect for sending through the mail!
Definitely take a peek around the site, you might even find some other great gift inspo! Uncommon Goods is a B-corp, which means its dedicated to positively impacting its employees and the planet, so you can feel good gifting from them!
Shop Uncommon Goods here!
15. Williams Sonoma — Gift crates, prepared meals, cocktails and coffees, seasonings and spices, and more
Did YOU know Williams Sonoma doesn't just sell kitchenware? I assumed they just had a small selection of jarred/canned/dried food gifts or gift sets, but nope! They have SO. MUCH. MORE.
I've highlighted three things that I think would be totally wow-worthy and much appreciated food gifts to get in the mail, but they also have a huge selection of totally giftable, totally shippable prepared foods, desserts, baked goods, fruit baskets, cheese platters, coffees, teas, spice sets, cocktail mixers, and more.
If you're going to send prepared meals by mail, I do recommend checking in with your gift recipient first, just in case you're not the only person with this very thoughtful idea and to ask if there's anything in particular they like!
Did I miss anything? Let me know what places you like shipping mail order food from in the comments!