As we make preparations for a holiday where food is central and look forward to a season of treats and sweets, why wouldn’t you give the gift of food and drink, especially when your love language is food. Plus, this pandemic has hit hard on our independent restaurants and small farms and they would welcome your business. And Orange County hosts a cornucopia of options for presents to send or gifts for yourself.

When you’re sending something in the mail

Since we’ll most likely be opting for Hanukkah and Christmas via Zoom, send something delicious ahead of time for the other parties to enjoy. Tonya’s Cookies and Piedmont Pennies are tasty snacks to ship for your virtual holiday party or corporate gift. If you’re local, Tonya has started porch drops of biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and hot meals from week to week. Maybe you’re like me and have a friend who just misses being able to line up on East Franklin Street to get a chicken biscuit from an iconic drive-thru. You can now actually bring the Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen to them by shipping a tasty treat. Another iconic local food you can send in the mail? Carrboro Coffee. Recipients will think of you every morning with a monthly subscription of beans -- and don’t knock their version of “instant” until you try this easy and delectable option. What about your friend who’s a fanatic of fromages? Boxcarr Handmade Cheese now ships in 1-2 days!

When everyone on your list has a sweet tooth

This year has most of us feeling salty so let’s end the year saluting la vita dolce. Maybe you didn’t get on the baking trend during quarantine, but now you want warm and sweet smells coming from the oven. Check out Sweet Neecy cake mixes and send all three to your favorite giftees and let them eat cake. Ensure that good girls and boys get chocolate and not coal in their stockings by shopping Chapel Hill Toffee, Chocolatay Confections, Tabulara Rasa Chocolate (who even has a Social Distancing Survival Box). And Matthew’s Chocolates in Hillsborough has cardamom hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows that are always worth my trek to the county seat. Got a tea lover who wants honey in their cup? Protect the local pollinators and choose honey and beeswax products from King Cobra Apiary and Fricks Farm and Apiaries.

When you wonder where’s the beef

One of my family member’s pandemic purchases was a kamado style grill and I thought some locally raised meat would be the perfect gift for him. I turned to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Foodies Facebook group—close to 11K members and counting!—and they had some great suggestions for local beef or other meat for pickup or delivery. Members suggested Coon Rock Farm, Fickle Creek Farm, Haven Farm, Left Bank Butchery, Baldwin Grassfed Beef, and Reverence Farms. Full disclosure: My intentions aren’t totally pure since I often get to enjoy the fruits of his grilling labor [outside and socially distanced].

When you want one-stop shopping

With appropriate precautions in place, Carrboro Farmers Market and Chapel Hill Farmers Market ensure locals can get their produce and other farm products safely. Sign up for their mailing lists or follow them on social media so you can see what they’re offering this season and consider adding the Black Farmers Market to your market rotation. Not sure yet about shopping in person? Check out Bella Bean Organics online farmers market or start your own food garden with kits from Wild Weed Gardens.

When you want to stuff the stocking with an apertif or digestif

Without the usual holiday happy hours and parties this year, we have to find new ways to toast the people you love. Shop safely with curbside pickup at TOPO Distillery. I’ve enjoyed giving a very special liquor of theirs as a gift. Botanist and Barrel has been offering really fun and safe outside events -- and you can have their cider shipped anywhere. Bowbarr To Go’s Something Special with sangria is a terrific gift for anyone on your list. DB Sutton and Chapel Hill Wine Company offer an incredible selection of wine for curbside pickup, just give them a call or send an email. Making your own merriment at home? Check out Dangerously Good Tonic for your mixers.

When you want to grab a nosh while you’re out and about

You’ve got to stay fueled up when you’re taking care of holiday business. Get your fix of Mama Dip’s, Al’s Burger Shack or 401 Main, three Black-owned eateries offering curb-side pickup and limited on-site indoor and outdoor dining. And the Downtown Partnership has a handy list to find out who else downtown is offering curbside, delivery, and dining inside or out.

Eat, drink and be merry (and when you’re not eating and drinking, wear a mask)!

p.s. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to two friends whose businesses are in our neighboring county—please look for Piedmont Grown products, Alley Twenty Six’s classic and seasonal syrups, and Mike D’s BBQ Sauce.

(Top photo: Griff's Coffee Toffee courtesy @chapelhilltoffee)