From festive ugly-sweater parties to family gatherings, the holiday season is a time to be with your nearest and dearest — and that will likely take place at someone’s home. While a gift for your host isn’t a requirement, it is good-guest behavior that’s sure to land you on the ‘Nice List.’ In honor of the season’s full social calendar, here’s a guide for heartfelt, practical, and refreshing hostess gifts.
If you plan on contributing to the potluck, you can double-down on your covered dish by gifting the container it comes in. I’m not suggesting you “gift” your beat-up Tupperware, instead bring your homemade treats in a new dish that the host can keep and re-use once the party’s over. You can go with the official Tupperware brand, something from their cook and bake series. Or, gift the platter you bring to serve your contribution to the feast. Do up a cheese plate on a wooden cutting board, a charcuterie on a tile-printed square plate, or have holiday-themed cookie tray. Consider this two-gifts-in-one!
If you’re not the best cook, but still want to bring something for others to enjoy, and as a thank you to the host, instead of wine or beer, try a signature cocktail. You can bring the ingredients and make it at the party, then leave your host with extra cocktail mixings for future shindigs. Or, buy sets of cocktail syrups and leave your host with the ready-to-pour elixirs (just add booze) for classic drinks like Moscow Mules, Old Fashioneds, and Margaritas.
In lieu of food and drink, there are still ways to contribute to a holiday gathering and provide your host with a gift. Arrive bearing party games and puzzles! Depending on the type of party, adults-only, family-friendly, etc., you can bring along trivia games, card games, or puzzles as an activity for all to enjoy, and as a thank you for the host to keep. There are some raunchy party games out there: I’d recommend the Hygge Games line on Amazon, which are silly trivia cards that can be played by all ages. Puzzles are also a simple gift. There are the 500+ pieces jigsaws, kid-themed easier puzzles, as well as 3-D kits. Again, this could be a party activity, or simply a thank you present.
Flowers are another standard hostess gift. To put a seasonal spin on this present, bring your host a poinsettia to add to their holiday décor. However, if like me, the hostess tends to kill plants on sight, try for a more ironic take with a small succulent. World Markets has assorted potted cacti you can split up and make easy-to-care-for plants your signature gift this holiday season. To combine this gift idea, go with an actual Christmas cactus, which can survive in low-light conditions, and will bloom if exposed to brighter light.
Homewares make thoughtful hostess gifts no matter the season. A stylish new potholder is guaranteed to delight any host who actually spends time in their kitchen. The Paper Store has humorous dishtowels and oven mitts. Anthropologie and ModCloth have more whimsical kitchen linens for the quirky cooks, while real cotton napkins are a simple, but elegant party essential that any gracious host will appreciate. Or, you can go the more technical route with specialty grilling mitts.
Self-care products are considerate treats for the hostesses on your list. You can go the practical route by gifting hand soap to help replace what everyone will use when they visit the powder room during the party. Or, gift a recovery product for your host to enjoy after everyone leaves, like an aromatherapy eye mask, plush slippers, or some essential oils. Esty has a plethora of self-care items and kits for sale across a range of price points.
The holidays can be hectic, and hosting can be stressful, but hopefully, spending time with family and friends makes up for the frenzy. When those family and friends come with considerate gifts, in addition to food and drink, it’s a merry time for all.