I like to bring a hostess gift when I go to a party around the holidays. I feel like it's a nice gesture, and it's often unexpected. I'm always looking for ideas for these gifts, but I have to admit whenever I see a "hostess gift ideas" list, I always wonder...who are these people friends with? The gifts are often expensive (I saw one suggestion today for slippers that were $300), I mean they're hosting me for a party, not giving me lodging for a whole year. Some of them are just odd (seriously...a hair dryer?) I don't want to weird anyone out, just let them know I'm grateful for their efforts.
I've rounded up a few tried and true hostess gifts. They are inexpensive, and some you can even grab on the way to the party. I've added some that you've seen before, but tried to give you some tips about how to freshen them up a bit.
12 Holiday Hostess Gifts that Won't Break the Bank (or get thrown in the trash).
1. Fresh Flowers: You don't have to order a fancy bouquet. Check out your local grocery store, they may have a flower center inside. If the idea of grocery store flowers makes you cringe, chances are it's not the flowers, but the packaging. Rather than grabbing a pre-done bouquet pick a few flowers and design your own. Replace the cellophane with some Christmas ribbon or burlap and holly and you have a lovely presentation. If you are worried that the hostess will feel compelled to incorporate them into her party decor or will not have a vase, you could also consider getting her a live plant. The plant will last long after the party and she will think of the fun evening each time she waters it.
2. Wine: Chances are you are bringing a bottle of wine to share at the party anyways. Consider bringing an additional bottle just for the hostess. If you know her favorite type, go to a wine shop where they know their stuff and ask for a recommendation. People often buy the same brand over and over out of habit, it will be fun for her to try something new! They sell adorable wine totes that you can wrap it in. Another thing I love to do is go to TJ Maxx or a similar store and pick up inexpensive but fun glasses to give with the bottle. If you have a particularly busy holiday season, you can order a bunch online and split them up into twos to give as gifts.
3. A cookbook: This takes a little pre-planning and only works if you know the taste of the hostess, but it can be a great gift. If you are unsure of which cookbooks they already have, try to get a book that focuses on one thing you know they enjoy. A book on Spanish Tapas, or even a cocktail guide would be a welcome addition to any kitchen library. Ladies Who Drink is a fun, quirky guide to drinks and small bites. Winter Cocktails has yummy recipes such as Pumpkin Bourbon Eggnog. William-Sonoma has some great single topic books for around $30. If the hostess is just getting her collection started, I recommend one of the following: Cold Weather Cooking, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The New York Times Cookbook, or anything by Ina Garten (though her first book: The Barefoot Contessa or Foolproof are great for beginning cooks). If the hostess has a sweet tooth than The Perfect Scoop is great as well! Whatever you choose, it will bring joy for years to come.
4. Hot Chocolate Mug: I like to assemble several of these in advance. It's a nice gift the hostess can enjoy the next day as they relax from the party. I buy mason jar mugs with lids. I then add homemade hot chocolate mix, which is super easy. Sift powdered sugar, high quality unsweetened cocoa powder and powdered milk together and divide into your jars. Seal with the lid and add a ribbon around the top. All your hostess has to do is add hot water! To jazz it up even more you can get an airplane sized bottle of baileys or butterscotch schnapps to tie to the jar. I like to use mason jar mugs with lids, again I buy in bulk and split up for gifts.
5. Coaster Set: Again this takes a little pre-planning. You can order a set with their surname on it, or if you're feeling crafty you can make some. They are actually very easy and economical to make using scrapbook paper, photographs, or even wrapping paper and .$16 white tiles from Lowes. Simply modge podge the paper to the top in the design you want. Once dry, spray with a sealant. You can make a really unique gift and customize it to the recipients taste.
6. Soap or Lotion: Getting a nice soap set is always appreciated. It's a little luxury that most people don't often buy for themselves, and it is always useful. I actually love this Lavender and White Tea soap and lotion set from Pecksniff's. I got it as a gift and continue to buy it for myself.
7. Candles: There's a reason that candles are a popular choice for hostess gifts, they can be enjoyed long after the party and they go with any decor. Spring for a high quality soy candle to ensure that it lasts the hostess. Try to get a calming scent that they can relax with the day after the party. Stick with neutral colors unless you know their decor taste. You can add a nice candle holder as well for an added touch.
8. Buy or assemble a gift basket with some cured meats, cheeses, and chocolates that your hostess is fond of. I like to add in a gift certificate to a local takeout place that the hostess can use the next day if they don't feel like cooking after the party.
9. Foodie Dice: This is a fun and unique gift. Essentially it contains dice each with a protein, cooking method, carb/grain, seasonal veggie, and bonus ingredient. You roll the dice to find out what you're making for dinner! It's like an episode of Chopped right in your kitchen! If you know the hostess enjoys cooking, this would be a fun gift!
10. Olive Oil or a Spice Set: If you know their preference, a really good bottle of olive oil can be appreciated. Additionally if you know they are sea food fans, this spice set is a good, affordable gift. Many malls now have Olive Oil specialty stores where you can go in and sample the different types. Once you find what you like, it's easy enough to order online. Consider getting an Olive Oil and Vinegar gift set for something extra special.
So there you have it, nothing out of the ordinary, but sometimes ordinary is just what the hostess wants! You know your friends better than anyone, I promise they will be very appreciative of whatever you choose. Remember it's not about spending a lot of money, your simply making a gesture to say thank you. They have opened their homes to you this season to allow for the creation of memories. Cheers to that!