Instead of sending a predictable holiday gift like fruit or fruitcake to friends and relatives out of state, consider a taste of Maryland.
The possibilities are endless -- everything from Maryland crabs to chocolates shaped like the state.
The products named here are either state favorites or other items prepared by Marylanders.
If you can't decide on just one product, try a gift basket that includes an assortment of these treasures. Friends and family who have moved away from the area will especially appreciate your thoughtfulness. Our list is a only sampling of what is available. You can consult your favorite grocery store for more options.
Obrycki's in Baltimore will deliver a Maryland trademark -- an entire crab feast -- to your loved one's doorstep. A crab feast for two, including 12 crabs, two backfin crab cakes, a 20-ounce container of crab soup, mallets, bibs and a table cover, is $85.95, which includes overnight shipping anywhere in the continental U.S.
Obrycki's also ships a seafood sampler for two, crabs by the dozen and a la carte items. To place your holiday order, call (800) 742-1741 by Dec. 17.
Annapolis Seafood Markets also ships crabs, oysters, clams and other seafood in various quantities. To order, call (410) 269-5380.
For a less-expensive Maryland crab flavor, McCormick Spice Co. is marketing an Old Bay Crab Feast Kit, just in time for the holidays. The kit, which consists of Old Bay seasonings, Old Bay Crabcake Classic Mix, two beer mugs, two crab mallets and a "Cooking With Old Bay" cookbook, is $29.95, plus $4 for shipping and handling and can be ordered by calling (800) 964-0720.
Route 66 in Columbia makes another spicy gift. The company specializes in Tex-Mex seasonings, but owner Gayle Garivaltis-James says she's heard the Two Guns barbecue oil is great for steamed crabs. Other products such as Panhandle chili mix and Two Guns taco mix, can be gift-boxed.
Gift box prices range from $16.95 to $23.25 and include shipping in the continental U.S. To order, call (410) 381-3389.
Clarksville's Olive Company will gift-wrap jars of its marinated olives, relishes or fruit and ship them anywhere. A standard gift box is $20, plus freight. Call (410) 531-5332.
Or try fruit spreads and other sauces made by McCutcheon Apple Products in Frederick. Call (800) 875-3451 for a run-down of products.
If you decide to give apple butter, consider also ordering some Orrell's Maryland beaten biscuits, made on the Eastern Shore by the Orrell family for more than 60 years. A bag of 12 biscuits, available in regular, honey or cheese flavors, is about $4, plus postage. Call (410) 820-8090.
Another Eastern Shore specialty is tea made by the Eastern Shore Tea Company. Forty-eight blends of loose teas are packed in three-ounce bags, tied with decorative ribbons. Some of the Maryland blends are: Black Raven Tea (in honor of Baltimorean Edgar Allan Poe), Baltimore Clipper Tea and Maryland Crab Apple Tea.
For the holidays, a Christmas Mint Tea is available. All teas are $4.95, plus shipping. Call (800) 542-6064.
Maryland also has several answers to the box-of-chocolates gift option. Wolf's Finest Chocolates will send a "Maryland With Pride" box, featuring dark chocolate crabs and marble sea shells, for $7, plus shipping. Call (410) 687-5100 for a brochure and to place orders.
Moore's Candies, a company that has been making homemade chocolates in the basement of a house on Pinewood Avenue in Baltimore for 75 years, also concocts chocolates with a Maryland theme. It makes chocolate Maryland state maps, sailboats and skipjacks, and even a bushel of crab-shaped chocolates. To order, call (410) 426-2705.
Baltimore's own Kirchmayr Chocolatier does a bustling business around the holidays as well. Call (410) 323-7705.
For cookie fans, Berger's Cookies ships 2 1/2 pounds of its famous chocolate-topped cookies in a decorative tin for $11.99, plus shipping. The company has been in business for nearly 175 years. Call (410) 752-5175.
Or send a decadent cake baked by Take the Cake in Baltimore. Choose one of four: Chocolate Grand Marnier, Rum Pecan, Apple Walnut or Lemond Almond. Each costs $26, plus shipping. Call (800) 350-2253 by Dec. 20 to place your order.
Many gift-basket and gourmet food stores put together Maryland baskets that include a variety of these items and most will customize the baskets to suit individual tastes. A standard gift basket by Classic Baskets in Timonium might include Eastern Shore Tea, Phillips Vegetable Crab Soup, Berger's chocolate-topped cookies and Jeppi Black-Eyed Susan snack mix. A mid-size basket runs about $55, plus shipping. Call (410) 561-0466.
The Great Chesapeake Co. creates a Maryland basket: Wye River Maryland Crab Soup, Chesapeake Chocolates, a Maryland seafood cookbook and other decorative items come in a basket in the shape of the state of Maryland. It costs about $65, plus shipping. Call (301) 299-6737.