T’is the season for open houses, dinner parties and holiday get togethers. Hosting can be a lot of work and while a token of your appreciation is always nice, we think a special thank you is warranted at this time of year. To help you earn favourite guest status, here is a list of host(ess) gifts for all price ranges and personality types.
1) If ever there was a time of year to bust out your mixing bowls and spatulas, this is it. Homemade goods are a lovely and inexpensive way to give thanks or to spread some holiday cheer. My favourite go-to is my own version of Williams Sonoma’s peppermint bark. To make, melt dark chocolate over a double boiler, spread over a parchment covered cookie sheet and cool in the fridge. In the meantime, melt white chocolate with a few health drops of peppermint extract (to taste). Let cool slightly (so it doesn’t melt the bottom layer) and spread over the dark chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. The parchment will pull right off the bottom and the resultibreang bark is easy to cut into picture perfect pieces. See yesterday’s post for a photo of my pre-cut bark.
2) Robyn recently discovered these scented sugars by Martha Stewart. They look beautiful in small mason jars or other glass containers and add a gourmet (and pretty!) element to something as mundane as white sugar.
3) Both of us here at Love of Awesome have made homemade vanilla extract recently. It’s insanely easy to make and it looks both beautiful and impressive. Either on its own or as part of a gift basket, this would be a great token for anyone who bakes.
4) Possibly the best idea I’ve ever come across for a host/hostess (credit for which goes to Robyn) is a breakfast basket to help your host recover the morning after. Take the guess work out of breakfast the next day (and make sure your host doesn’t have to fight his or her way through a messy kitchen on an empty stomach) and fill a basket with fresh scones, fruit, coffee and any other breakfast items you think your host might enjoy.
1) Poinsettias might be overdone during the holiday season but I still think they’re beautiful and if taken care of, they’ll last all winter. Go out on a limb and pick up a white one or add a pretty pot.
2) Holiday decorations or ornaments are an easy contribution to any holiday party. For something unique, check out the many arts and craft shows happening in the city over the holiday season, or look somewhere like Urban Outfitters for less traditional ornaments.
3) I’m a sucker for nice hand soaps, particularly in areas where they’re on display. Fruits and Passion’s Cucina line is great for the kitchen, comes in beautiful glass bottles and while perhaps too expensive to purchase for everyday use for yourself, is a great gift for someone else.
4) The internet (and stores like CB2, Ped Pegasus, Ziggy’s, Labour of Love, etc.) is an amazing source for kitschy inexpensive kitchen gadgets (awesome gift example: Robyn’s guitar shaped spatula). Personally, I have a soft spot for matryoshka dolls, which for some reason unbeknownst to me, have become trendy on kitchen items this year, from measuring cups to carafes. Whatever your host is into, there’s probably an awesome (and admittedly unnecessary) kitchen gadget for that.
1) We talked about specialty salts, oils and vinegars in our Foodie Gift Guide, and these make equally great gifts for your host – a gift they may even choose to use at dinner. Pair it up with a fresh baguette from your local bakery and you’ve got a great appetizer!
2) I am a big fan of David’s Tea and given the wide variety of flavours on offer at any given time, a holiday sampler pack is a great way to try them all. I loved last years and would be very happy to be gifted this year’s version! Throw in an infuser ball or some pack-your-own tea bags and you’ve got a ready to use gift.
3) While my boyfriend might disagree, I don’t think a host(ess) can ever have enough serving ware. Ikea is great for inexpensive platters and downtown, CB2 and West Elm are awesome host gift resources.
4) If your host(ess) is a chocolate lover, Brix has a line of high end chocolates designed to be paired with wines. At $25 the boxed tasting collection makes an excellent accompaniment to a bottle of wine. Available at the Bay.
1) Amazing smelling candles are a gift that you know will always be used. Over the holidays and in the winter months, the delicious aromas and flickering lights make home feel incredibly cozy. I’ve talked about my love of Wood Wick Candles that sound like a crackling fireplace, and Robyn is currently obsessed with Jonathan Adler’s candle line being sold at the Gap, especially the earl grey.
2) I recently discovered these wine pairing tea towels and am trying to figure out how to host another holiday party in hopes that someone might gift them to me. Both decorative and practical, these towels would make a great gift for the host(ess) who makes an effort to pair wines (or simply likes drinking them!)
3) For the hostess who is also a fashion lover, Emily Schuman has just turned her popular blog, Cupcakes and Cashmere, into a book. The book is a collection of new write-ups about decorating, fashion, recipes, entertaining and all other hosting essentials.