Apparently taking a bottle of wine to a dinner party is rude because it implies your hosts haven't got good wine to serve. Flowers are a problem too because they mean your host has to start hunting for the right vase when s/he's already busy enough with dinner.
Information like this just stresses us right out. That said... challenge accepted.
These following gifts are a bit off-speed, but they're fairly easy to source, and even well beyond the festive season, they'll all bring great joy.
for the bon vivant
In her book But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria (which you should buy for the title alone), writer and Vogue contributor Julia Reed cited an easy-to-pull-together set as her go-to hostess gift. All you need is:
- Prosecco – we love shiny and festive Bottega Gold Prosecco, ($26.95 CAD at LCBO and $34.95 USD at premierchampagne.com)
- Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters ($24.99 CAD at amazon.ca and $10.96 USD at amazon.com)
- Raw sugar cubes – Béghin Say La Perruche Rough Cut Sugar Cubes ($24.74 CAD/2 pkgs at amazon.ca and $13.71 USD at amazon.com) are a more glamorous choice than anything you’ll find in the grocery-store baking aisle.
To make the cocktail: place a sugar cube at the bottom of a champagne glass, douse it in bitters and pour champagne over it.
So easy, and now you will be remembered as the person who brought champagne cocktails to the party.
for the instagramming foodie
We’re pretty skeptical of books by bloggers, but Cook Beautiful ($27.04 CAN at chapters.indigo.ca and $22.04 USD at barnesandnoble.com) by eyeswoon.com's Athena Calderone is a gorgeous page-turner full of great recipes, like this show-stopping Cardamom Cognac Apple Cake that is delicious and stays fresh for a couple of days, perfect for drop-in guest season.
for the friend who is green (but still fancy)
This one ticks all the boxes: Anto Yukon soaps ($10 CAN each at Holt Renfrew and antoyukon.com) are 100% natural, and smell amazing. At that price, you can give two – nothing is more Canadian than Clayquot Sound (notes of cedar, patchouli and bergamot) or Miles Canyon (juniper and sage).
for the selfless santa
We’ve seen so many Advent Calendars but a calendar for those days between Christmas and New Year’s? Filled with the brand's best-loved beauty treats, The Body Shop’s Countdown to New Year box ($34.50 CAD at thebodyshop.com) is a wonderful after-Christmas treat for that kind person who gave to everyone but themselves.
for the homebody
Did you know you can still buy Jiffy Pop ($24 CAD/12 pack at amazon.ca and $2.18 USD each at walmart.com), the popcorn that you make right on the stove? So much more hands-on, it also tastes better than microwave popcorn (which reminds us of the break room at work). Throw in some fuzzy socks – high-end cashmere ($155 CAD and $120.61 USD at thecashmereshop.com) or more reasonable private-label (from $19 USD at Nordstrom) and a Skin Republic YouthFoil hydrating mask or two ($20 CAD/2 pk at Shoppers Drug Mart), and you have our version of a perfect night in. (In the US, try the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, $25 USD at sephora.com.)
for the friend who's raised hibernating to a high art
Thank God we discovered hygge, the Danish art of staying luxuriously cozy indoors to help make it through the winter. For your luxury-inclined friend who needs more than the glow of tea-lights to keep her cozy, the Sisley Campagne candle ($90 CAD and $70 USD at Nordstrom), a summery mix of freshly cut grass with bergamot, basil, tomato leaves layered over vetiver and oak moss, is the perfect hit of sunshine while storms rage outside.
for frequent hosts
OK, this is not cheap, but it is the perfect gift for cottage-owning in-laws or friends who always seem to have houseguests rooting around in their kitchen. The Ballarini frying pan ($129 CAD at thebay.com and $129 USD at amazon.com) is a non-stick that cannot be scratched, even with metal utensils, so it’s perfect when a guest (male, usually) offers to make breakfast (eggs, usually) and starts scraping away at a pan with a metal spoon. (And yes, this comes from personal experience watching well-meaning guests trash my pans.) Trust.
on the way to the party
If you're totally screwed and have a party to attend tonight, this gift will be well-received by really anyone who lives in a place bigger than a studio apt. The D-Link WiFi Range Extender ($49.99 CAN at Shoppers Drug Mart, $49.28 at amazon.ca and $49.99 US at bestbuy.com) is useful, but also sleek and unobtrusive. Best of all, in Canada you can buy it at Shoppers while your Uber waits outside.
To give memorable hostess gifts isn't a common New Year's resolution, but why not start with a win?
And just for fun, tell us: what's the best hostess gift you've ever given or received?
iBought✓ affiliatelinks✓ (amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, bestbuy.com and walmart.com links are non-affiliates)