HEARTWARMING HOSTING GIFTS
What to get for the host or hostess of any type of party
Creators News Service
Christmas is coming. You've shopped, wrapped the last present and, like Santa, checked your list twice. But you forgot two parties looming on the holiday horizon.
The first is a large, formal affair in the home of a couple you know only slightly, the other, a casual gathering hosted annually by the neighborhood Super Mom. While you know a present for the hostess is never obligatory, you know a thoughtful gift is a thank-you of sorts and always appropriate.
"A hostess gift is in appreciation of a party invitation," said Linda Bibalo, an etiquette consultant who runs "Etiquette for All" in California and Connecticut. "People go to a lot of work and trouble having a party."
But time is running out and your mind is a blank. Here are some suggestions.
"A bouquet of flowers delivered to the hostess' home the day before or a nice box of chocolates given the evening of the party is always appropriate," said Bibalo of giving a gift at a formal event. "And the beautiful fruit that comes in during the holidays -- the gorgeous oranges, tangerines and apples-- is another good choice."
These are tried and true hostess gifts for any occasion and especially appropriate when you do not know the recipient well, according to Bibalo.
There are no such restrictions on options for gifting a friend hosting an informal holiday get-together. Gifts can be practical, humorous or sensitive. They can be homemade, from your garden or kitchen, or they can be one of the many small luxury items folks rarely buy for themselves. Remembering a beloved family pet with a wrapped package of gourmet dog biscuits or a catnip toy is appreciated as well.
Need more ideas? Turn to the Internet for a multitude of specific gift ideas that fit any pocketbook. One site, www.gifts.com, even offers a personality profiler. Is your hostess a domestic diva or a country clubber? Would you describe the party host as a guy's guy?
You decide the answers based on a list of criteria and are then given extensive suggestions for appropriate gifts. Monogrammed soaps and shower gel for the country clubber, a just-right cookbook for a domestic diva or an array of exotic barbecue sauces for the guy's guy are just some gift ideas readily available in a wide range of prices.
Zeroing in on special hobbies also helps when selecting a gift. Is your hostess a gardener, tennis player, golfer or gourmet cook? Small items that apply to such hobbies abound. Or focus on the holidays. This is a perfect time for a beautiful tree ornament, holiday-themed paper cocktail napkins and hand towels, elegant tapers or a jolly, round Santa candle.
As a gift, food is virtually fail proof. Most of us have an appetizer or dessert that friends and relatives would be proud to have tucked away in their cupboard or refrigerator. A plate of traditional homemade Christmas cookies, your satiny fudge or a loaf of your famous fruit bread with the recipe attached will be accepted joyfully.
Consider filling a fancy bottle with your secret barbecue rub people exclaim over or layering the dry ingredients of your special cookie mix in a decorative jar with instructions attached for adding butter, eggs and liquid and baking them off. Again, the Internet offers a multitude of suggestions and recipes for these "Gifts in a Jar."
If you're seeking an unusual and savory gift that's a snap to make and guaranteed to please, you need look no further than the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten. These sophisticated nuts, first mentioned in her book "Barefoot in Paris," receive rave reviews.
1 pound roasted unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1?2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the cashews out on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven until warm, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt, and butter. Thoroughly toss the warm cashews with the spiced butter and serve warm.