By Marsha Fottler –
This is prime time for giving, getting, and (yes, admit it) re-cycling hostess gifts. Over the next couple months or so depending upon how social you are, you’ll be toting hostess gifts to events and you’ll be on the receiving end too.
An appreciated hostess gift need not be expensive and it shouldn’t be big. Also, it should never be flowers unless you bring an arrangement or have an arrangement delivered from the florist on the day of the event. A loose bouquet handed to a hostess is trouble. It interrupts the flow of the greeting and forces the homeowner to scurry around looking for a vase. There are better options and here are a few:
Candles: The new LED-powered pillar candles are nothing short of wonderful. They come in many colors and various degrees of drippy “realness,” and some are scented. I say avoid a holiday color or theme but make your gift an ivory candle with a soft flickering glow. The batteries last a long time. Your hosts will use them year round. If you’re a candle purist, a pair of highest-quality real ivory or white tapers presented in a dressed-up gift bag with a decorative box of matches is always right.
Spirits: These are my favorites – a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur. Wine is appropriate but it’s an obvious choice. You can do better unless you’re visiting oenophiles, then make your selection very carefully and opt for the unusual.
Candy: Pick a prestige brand such Valrhona, Richart, Ghiradelli, See or Godiva and choose a box of assorted chocolates. One pound is enough for a hostess gift. Holiday hard candy sits around and gets sticky before it’s pitched out right after New Year’s. Don’t be the one who brought it.
Herb or spice: I like the Rosemary herb tabletop Christmas trees that are plentiful this season. The homeowner can use as a centerpiece and snip the herb as needed. If the hostess has a large kitchen, an herb tree is a lovely holiday accessory in that room. For smaller herbal or spice options, bring a small jar of truffle salt, grains of paradise or a spice rub blend for beef or pork roast. An attractive small clay pot with a basil or cilantro plant in it will do just fine. If you want to be more extravagant, an herbal wreath really makes a statement.
Kitchen gadget: A hand-held julienne tool is a great hostess gift for someone who loves to cook Asian or wants to make a fancy salad with no hassle. Six salt sellars with tiny accompanying spoons are a trend this year. I also like the new scissors which shred herb leaves with one cut of the multi blades. Very cool.
Potpourri: In a light holiday scent. Sniff before you buy. Some inexpensive blends are downright offensive. Chose your gift by sophisticated fragrance and what the potpourri blend looks like. You want big sculptural chunks of color and texture that looks like art in a bowl.
Cheese plate and knife: Marble, slate, bamboo, ceramic, your choices are limitless. Everyone can use a good-looking cheese platter and knife.
Canape spreaders: Resist choosing ones that are too cutesy or have a Christmas design. Go with classic styling so your hosts can use them often.