I spend a lot of time thinking about hostess gifts — partly because it's my job and also because I go to a decent amount of events at other people's homes (for some reason, people keep inviting me over ... maybe it's because they know they'll get a good gift out of it?) and I host a lot people in my own home.
Over the years, I've decided that I'll never gift flowers (they're annoying for the host to deal with), candles (see below!), or treats (because I don't want anyone to feel obligated to serve them right away). And actually, I've gotten pretty creative, thinking outside the usual hostess gift box. I like to give something surprising, inexpensive, and useful. Ideally, it's something the host wouldn't usually think to buy for herself (think: a really nice soap dish or a tin of tea).
With all of that in mind, here are 10 of the best host gifts I've seen leading up to this holiday season (and, as a market editor, I see a lot of gifts!). I either want or plan on giving every single thing on this list.
1. Gaea Fresh Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil , $30 for 17 ounces
Good olive oil is one of those things that people rarely think to buy for themselves. While my other friends might show up to a dinner party with a bottle of wine, I like to bring a bottle of olive oil because it's something that my host can use long after we're gone. And she won't feel obligated to open it that night, either.
2. Macrame Wine Tote, $16 at Etsy
Another alternative to a bottle of wine, consider bringing a cute wine tote, like this macrame one. You don't even have to put a bottle of wine in it when you gift it. Just give it to your host and tell her you thought she could use it the next time she goes to a restaurant that's BYOB.
3. Ridley's Food & Drink Quiz, $14
Lindt is a brand of chocolate from which country? What nut is used to make pesto? This deck of cards includes all sorts of multiple-choice questions that range from easy to how-the-heck-should-I-know? Get this for your host who loves food and games, and maybe you guys can all play after dinner.
4. Assorted Donut Cork Coasters, $15 for four at Etsy
A frequent host can never have too many coasters. I host a lot of overnight guests and someone once gave me these in the morning. I thought they were so sweet and used them right away for everyone's coffee mugs while we had breakfast around the table. If the donuts (or eggs!) are too cheeky for you, there's also this sleek set of dipped coasters.
5. Succulents, $16 for five
Did you know that you can get succulents on Amazon? You can! And they'll arrive in good shape! I like to dress up the pots with washi tape or paint and keep these on hand. Then, if a last-minute dinner invitation or holiday party pops up, I've got a little something special to bring with me. And if I have any plants leftover at the end of the season, I get to keep them for myself.
6. Cardamom Mulling Kit, $15 at Etsy
This stuff is basically the holidays in a box. Inside, there's an easy-to-follow recipe card, two spice sachets (with organic cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and more), and a one ounce bottle of cardamom extract. If you want to make this more of a gift, add a bottle of wine or a jug of your favorite apple cider.
7. 2019 Kitchen Calendar with Wood Stand, $24 at Etsy
The new year is coming! I've found that a cute little (read: unobtrusive!) calendar makes a great host gift this time of year. This one features all sorts of food- and kitchen-related items including mixing bowls, herbs, whisks, and more. It comes with a wooden stand, too, so the lucky recipient can set it up on a shelf or just pin up each card on a cork board.
8. Aqua Mercury Glass Votive Candleholders, $20 for five at World Market
I'm a strong believer that you should never give someone a candle. (Scents are so subjective and something that smells good to you might give another person a headache.) But I do think that candleholders are a-okay! Encouraged, even! I love that this set of five feels like a substantial gift and that it's reasonably priced. (Mercury glass can get expensive!). And the votives are oh-so-pretty. The same set also comes in pink, red, gold, and a few other colors.
9. You're My Everything Bagel Ornament, $16 at Anthropologie
Confession: This ornament is on this list because I'm not-to-subtly hoping that someone I know will buy this for me. See, I'm Jewish but my husband is Christian so this seems like a funny way to mesh both of us together for the holidays. Plus, we just love everything bagels. If you're not into this ornament, Anthropologie has more than a dozen other food-themed options — including a rock candy ornament!
10. Easy Tiger Trophy Bottle Opener, $25
When was the last time any grown adult in your life earned a trophy? Chances are, it's been a while. You have the power to change that! I just love the idea of showing up at someone's house and handing this to them when they open the door. Not only is it an award for, well, everything, it's also a bottle opener.
What are you go-to host gifts? Share all your brilliant ideas in the comments below.