Top 10 gifts for the holiday hostess
Giving a gift to the host or hostess of a party is a thoughtful gesture, but during the holiday season, time and money are often in short supply. With the help of Sarah Richardson, host of HGTV's Room Service and a few other busy but imaginative women, we've come up with our list of this year's top 10 simple but heartwarming holiday hostess gifts.
Whatever gifts you give, you needn't be extravagant. Sarah says small touches like unique packaging and handwritten labels are what make gifts special.
If you know someone has a special interest, like collecting wines, bring a gift catering to that interest for your host to enjoy at a later date. Sarah also suggests offering gifts that reflect your talents. Are you a baker? Do some festive baking and package it up in your own special way. A photographer? Offer your services for a family photo.
As Sarah explains, “The best hostess gifts are simple heartfelt gestures to show someone how much you care about them -- that's the spirit of the season.”
Pot some paperwhites
Sarah's favourite hostess gift is narcissi bulbs, more commonly known as paperwhites. “It takes so little effort to take them out of the plastic that they come in and pop them into a more interesting container, which doesn't need to be expensive, cover it with moss and wrap it up in cellophane,” says Sarah. It's a beautiful gift that will bloom throughout the holidays.
Make mulling spices
Sarah also suggests tins or sachets of mulling spices for making mulled wine or mulled apple cider. Make 10 or 15 tins at a time so they're ready when you're invited to someone's house. It's something unusual that your hostess wouldn't normally receive.
Create homemade bath salts
Sound time-consuming? It's not, says Tabitha Beaton, communications manager for the Calgary Fire Department, known to family and friends as a gift-giving guru. “It's faster to make bath salts than to run to the store and buy them,” she says. Simply mix an even amount of Dead Sea salts with epsom salts and add some essential oil. Package the bath salts in Chinese takeout packages, a pretty jar or a cellophane bag tied with a holiday-colour ribbon.
Image courtesy of Carolyne Roehm.
Give beautiful bottled waters
Most of us drink more than our fair share of water over the holidays. Why not pair some beautiful bottles of regional water with a couple of lemons and limes in a gift bag or basket. Choose some unique and colorful bottles that can be used as vases later.
Make a giant batch of your favourite cookies or squares at the beginning of the season, package them in brown paper coffee bags and add homemade labels for a special touch. If you're not a baker, you can always cheat and use store-bought goodies. Thoughtful packaging can make all the difference to an otherwise ordinary gift.
Indulge your host with hand and body lotions
“I love getting little indulgences or nice versions of things I use every day,” says Milena Zurbriggen, manager at a technology company in Calgary. “Forget the fancy bath fizzes and foams! Who has time? But a nice hand or body lotion that I can slather on brings a little happiness every day.”
Buy your hostess some time
Bring a batch of frozen soup for your hostess to use later as a quick dinner, give a card with a gift certificate for your babysitting or dog walking services – anything that will buy your hostess some well-deserved relaxation time.
Offer recipes from the heart
If your hostess likes to cook or bake, write some of your favourite recipes in a recipe book that she can use and add to for years to come.
Treat the hostess to tasty teas
Give your hostess some specialty teas that she wouldn't normally buy for herself. If you're giving loose teas, add a tea strainer in case she doesn't have one.
Spruce up a bottle of wine
If you know the hostess loves wine, add something special to this standard gift. Wrap the bottle in a lovely cloth bag, attach an article reviewing the wine or a unique wine cork.
Image courtesy of Carolyne Roehm.