Small packages under the Christmas tree don't always lead to a reveal of jewelry or gift cards. A slim box can contain wee puzzle, or a tabletop game, or even a napkin emblazoned with the logo of a favorite restaurant.
The receiver of such a napkin instantly guesses that the present signifies that the giver has dinner plans in mind, after the holidays. Whether those plans fall over dineLA Restaurant Week, which has become something of a Januarytime force of nature on the Southern California eat-out scene, is up to the person who decided that a meal out was a nice gift to give.
Which it absolutely is, because experiential gifts create memory, something the holidays are all about. Those meal-based memories can begin alongside dineLA's famous discounts on Monday, Jan. 18 when the region-wide promotion officially starts its sup-tastic run.
It's a two-week run, with the prix fixe deals wrapping up on the final day of January. So the gift you promised your sweetheart or friend -- a nice dinner out -- can fall any ol' time during the last third of the month.
Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room, several Gyu-Kaku locations, and Mud Hen Tavern are just three of the many offering lunches and dinners for set prices (lunch runs from $15 to $25 while dinner lands at $29, $39, or $49).
The only thing you two will need to wade through together is where to go. "Over 300 restaurants throughout LA County" are on the list for the early 2016 go-around. If the busiest season of the year has given you decision fatigue, perhaps the thing to do is to turn over the final choice to the person who got your gift, your date for the evening out.
What haven't they tried in awhile? Is there a new place in their neighborhood that's getting the foodie love? You made the choice to wrap a restaurant napkin as a present, now let them land on the ultimate dining destination.
And if you book through OpenTable a donation is made to The Midnight Mission, which "provides food, shelter, and essential aid to those experiencing homelessness throughout the city." Spreading the community spirit into 2016 is a moving gift to the whole region.