Entertaining is part of the holiday season when hosts and hostesses open their homes to many friends and family to celebrate a time of giving and togetherness. Gifts for the host and/or hostess can show appreciation to the men and women who go above and beyond.
A hostess gift can be as simple or as extravagant as your budget allows. Many people tend to gravitate toward food-related gifts because of their simplicity and the idea that they can be served at the gathering of friends and family. But conventional etiquette suggests that hosts and hostesses are not obligated to serve the beverages or foods guests bring and should not feel ashamed to reserve them for their own private use. So guests may want to think outside the box when gifting holiday hosts this season. Here are some ideas to consider:
• Flavored dipping oils: Herb-infused oils lend a different taste to prepared foods and also can be used as a bread garnish in lieu of butter. Pair a flavored oil with a loaf of gourmet bread and include a decorative, shallow bowl that can be used for the oil.
• Wine caddy: The number of restaurants that enable you to bring your own beverages has multiplied. This means that diners can benefit from practical ways to transport their favorite vintage from home to the table. Wine caddies and holders come in many different designs, from some that resemble a woman’s clutch to suitcase-inspired designs.
• After-dinner treat: Put together a basket of foods that can be served after dinner. A citrus-flavored palate cleanser, like lemon-infused butter cookies, fresh fruit and a sparkling beverage may fit the bill perfectly. Specialty stores often sell gift “towers” this time of year that package together delicious treats.
• Scented sugars: Oil isn’t the only condiment that can be infused with aroma and additional flavor. Purchase canning jars and fill them with your favorite brand of granulated sugar. Add flavorings, such as cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, mint leaves, or hazelnuts, to give foods a subtle essence of flavor. Tie a bow around the jar and present it as a thoughtful gift.
• Garden gift basket: Although the cold weather is here, a garden gift basket can still make a welcome gift. Include flower seeds, fertilizer sticks, a garden trowel, a pair of gardening gloves, and any other essentials you can think of.
• Spa gift certificate: Entertaining is hard work and a hostess may enjoy some time to recuperate once the holidays have come and gone. A gift certificate for a facial or massage will provide at least an hour of pampering.
• Homemade treats: Much in the way a handwritten thank-you note can convey how much you appreciate a gift, a handmade gift can tell a host that you were thankful to be invited to an event. If you prepare a signature dish, whip it up and bring it along. It’s also easy to create some simple garnishes and package them in a decorative tin or jar. Think homemade salsa or a homemade chocolate ganache sauce.
• Breakfast in bed: Enable the host and hostess to sleep in the next day by having breakfast all ready to go. Put together a basket or tray with individual bottles of juice, packets of tea or instant coffee and some gourmet muffins or scones. Add a jar of jam and some small spreading knives so breakfast can be served with minimal hassle.