The season for holiday parties and open houses has sprung my friends. Don’t believe me? Over the next two weeks, the husband and I will have hit both of our formal work holiday parties. While we aren’t expected to bring host / hostess gifts to those types of events, we have been invited to many a holiday fete in the past that requires a good host / hostess gift. I’ve talked a bit about hostess gifts before, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Scale Accordingly. If you are a houseguest, or even spending the night at a friend’s place, your gift should be bigger than say, a drop-in at a pal’s open house party. If the event is a five-course meal with an in-house sommelier, your gift should be nicer than if you were visiting a friend’s place to watch the game or sip cider. Be wary of how much your personal circumstances weigh into things. If you had to drive an hour or hire a babysitter, maybe opt for something slightly less grand…but don’t forgo a gift altogether.
2) Wine is Boring. Most host gifts are in the $25 and under range (although see the note above), which makes a bottle of wine an easy choice. Honestly though, a unique choice, especially once that reflects the host’s personal interests, will help guarantee your invite for future years and curry good favour the day of the actual event. Just ask yourself: would I be excited to get this?
3) Stockpile Away. I regularly feature gift ideas that would make appropriate hostess gifts. Having a small stash of items for last-minute invites or to save you from the hustle & bustle of grabbing something en route can seriously help you destress.
4) Party Picks. If you’re buying a host gift, generally speaking it means that person likes to have people over. Consider buying them something they can use at a future event, or even that very night.
5) A Host Gift is not a Friend Gift. Be wary of bringing a hostess gift and leaving it at that. It’s entirely possible your host will have a present set aside for you (it’s best to be upfront about gift exchanges). Don’t assume that your hostess present is the only one that will be swapped that night.
Alright! Now that you’re all educated, here are some of my picks for some very cool hostess gifts this holiday season, along with some potentially appropriate events to hand them over (of course, all ideas are swappable):
Fridge Fizz Saver Soda Dispenser – $25.99 @ Factory Global
THE EVENT: Family shindig. A major plight of any hostess is having a half-dozen 2L bottles of soda out on the refreshments table and then having one person – just one – open the slightly-less-popular variety (I’m looking at you Mountain Dew). Not a huge fan yourself, it goes flat shortly after. Not so much when you invest in a few of these soda dispensers. They promise to keep your bubbling pops as fizzy as the day you open them for a much longer period than simply stashing them in the fridge would be. The handy tap also extends up and over fridge shelves so you can still store them as you usually would – just with an upside down twist. A smart pick for the soda fan (or mega host) in your life.
Extraordinary Cheese Dip Aubergine Set – $35 @ Epicure Selections
THE EVENT: A cookie baking party with your gal pals. The first rule of a successful girls’ night? Have amazing munchies. And with this trio of dips from Epicure Selections, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be gravitating toward the snack table all night long. This yummy yet affordable set actually includes 3 dip mixes – Onion, Chives & Bacon, and Lemon Dilly – as well as a recipe brochure and aubergine baker, all housed in a ready-to-hand-over gift bag. Just don’t forget the crackers! And while I’ve assigned it to ladies’ night, trust me – a guys’ afternoon spent in front of the big screen would devour this just as quickly.
Cucina Pinot Grigio Limited Edition Hand Soap – $22.50 @ Fruits & Passion
THE EVENT: A sophisticated holiday cocktail party. You want to bring wine to an event? I’ll do you one better: try handing over this limited edition glass bottle inspired by vino in more ways than one. This Pinot Grigio-scented hand soap is a cheeky gift compared to what the hostess may be expecting, plus it’ll last way longer than a bottle of wine would anyway. The wine-shaped bottle and olive oil-based soap work great for the kitchen, particularly when it comes to rinsing away food smells on your hands after whipping up a feast for twenty, wouldn’t you say?
Mercury 3-Wick Candles – $24 each @ Indigo
I bought one of these candles last year and they are absolutely divine. They seriously, ridiculously, intensely perfume the air – so be sure to buy only if you know your giftee will really love the scent. Housed in a beautiful glass container, these pretty candles will burn for up to 30 hours, ensuring a freshly scented home all winter long. The candles highlighted above includes two fall selections – Kohdo Wood and White Pumpkin, as well as three holiday options – Bitter Orange & Myrrh, Icy Pine, and Red Currant & Vanilla, each of which has its own distinct, olfactory-tingling fragrance.
Holiday Blend Coffee – $16.95 @ Second Cup
THE EVENT: A Coworker’s open house. A bag of beans is just a little more exciting and thoughtful than a bottle of wine, don’t you think? It’s also plenty seasonally appropriate – what coffee fiend wouldn’t like to start off Christmas morning (or any chilly weekday) with a cup of festive brew? A medium dark roast that oscillates between sweet and smooth, this rich, full-bodied coffee is a must for any Second Cup fans or diehard drinkers in general. Plus, you can feel good that 50% of the beans are Rainforest Alliance Certified.
Himalaya Spice Jars – $27.99 @ Animi Causa
THE EVENT: Dinner party with your closest couple friends. Spice things up at your next foursome gathering when you bring this cute set of ‘Spice Mountains’. Not only do the snowcapped glass bottles feel festive, they’re also just the kind of thing your host will actually want to display in their kitchen. The price is a little steeper, but intimate gatherings can actually allow you to pass off a bigger hostess present as a token of your friendship (with some exceptions – see the note at the top of this post). Bonus points if you pay a visit to your local spice merchant (what, you don’t have one?) to stockpile your friends’ collection with some fresh new herbs and spices.
70s Infuser Bottle – $14.99 @ CBC Shop
THE EVENT: Spinning class pre-fun run gathering. So your gym buddy has invited you to a holiday meet-up? Between nibbles of kale chips, slip your pal this nifty infuser water bottle, emblazoned with a retro version of the CBC’s classic gem logo. Not only does it look cool, it has a particularly handy feature that allows you to infuse your favourite hydrating drink with fresh herbs or berries for a flavour punch every time you take a sip. BPA free, shatter, stain and smell-resistant, it’s a perfect pick for your active-minded friend.
Bake Shapes – $19.99 @ Quirky
THE EVENT: A weekend book club brunch. Every breakfast maven is always looking for ways to reinvent the relatively expected menu of assorted meats, quick breads, fresh fruit, and cheese. Give her something fun to work with when you hand over this set of three silicone molds that form unique designs on the top of your muffins. Aside from looking pretty, they’ll also make it a snap to dress up your muffins with fresh fruit, homemade whipped cream, or a tasty caramel filling to take your everyday breakfast spread from wow to POW!
Brrrrr Ice Cube Tray – $20 @ black + blum
THE EVENT: Your friend’s Ugly Sweater party. Every good party host knows that one of the keys to their success is ice! Luckily for you, this super smart ice cube tray makes a wonderful gift for the regular host or hostess. Simply fill the bear-shaped cube holder like you would a water bottle, and seal it with the included ‘nose’ cap to help prevent spillage or the absorption of the foodstuff smells in your freezer. When you’re ready to break out the cubes, whack your bear a few times on the counter and presto, instant ice satisfaction. Cute and clever – what’s not to like?
philosophy The Holiday Handbook – $26 @ Hudson’s Bay and philosophy Gourmet Popcorn Toppings $33 @ Sephora
THE EVENT: Your sister’s first crack at hosting a family holiday dinner. The bonds between sisters are tough to describe to outsiders (trust me, I’ve tried). If my sis were braving the pressures of presenting our family with a scrumptious feast, I’d appear with one of these sweet treats in hand to both thank her profusely for not putting ME in the same spot, and to encourage her to make it through the day so she can enjoy a fragrant escape later. Both of these super cute gift sets from philosophy would make stellar hostess gifts, if in part because of their foodie inspiration. The Holiday Handbook includes three luscious hand creams that tackle all the spicy scents of the dessert table, while the Gourmet Popcorn Toppings set comes housed in an adorable reusable tin and features three pseudo-sugary 3-in-1 shampoo, shower gel & bubble baths. While we’re talking about philosophy, I feel I should mention that after the WILD success of philosophy’s free ‘Purity Made Simple’ giveaway, they’ve actually offered up the chance to 5,000 more lucky Canucks to take home a freebie of their own. All you have to do is click here to send a sweet wish to a loved one, and you’ll receive a coupon via email to redeem at Hudson’s Bay. Hurry! These are sure to disappear just as quickly as the first batch…
Want to be the most popular party guest this season? I’m giving away a Host Gift prize package filled with all of the items you see above, for a total value of over $185. And if you aren’t the big ol’ grand prize winner – no worries. Two of you are still going to walk away with a bag of Second Cup’s scrumptious Holiday Blend coffee. Interested in winning? Here’s how to enter:
1) Tell me in the comments below by December 10th: which of these hostess gifts would you most love to receive?
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around December 11th to select the winners, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entries: Say thanks not only to your host, but to the lovely people that put up these awesome prizes, and earn bonus entries into the draw to boot. Here’s how:
Quirky – Follow on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you’d love to try Bake Shapes. Leave a link to your Tweet below.
philosophy – Follow on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about their sweet holiday wishes freebie promo. Leave a link to your Tweet below.
Indigo – Like on Facebook, leave a comment about which of their 3-wick candles you’d most love to try. Leave a link back to your comment below (it can be done, Google it).
Second Cup - Like on Facebook, leave a comment about their Holiday Blend coffee. Leave a link back to your comment below.
Epicure Selections – Like on Facebook, leave a comment about how much you’d love to sample their cheese dip (or whatever product you’d like). Leave a link back to your comment below.
CBC - Like the CBC Shop on Facebook, leave a comment about their awesome retro collection. Leave a link back to your comment below.