There are lots of things you want to do when you arrive at the lovely home of your friend who’s gracious enough to host a holiday party or a festive weekend away. You want to offer to help out in the kitchen and help clean up. You want to share stories and laugh. (A lot.) You definitely want to eat and drink plenty, and come away with all the warm and fuzzy feels. But there’s one thing you absolutely don’t want to do, which is show up empty handed.
So before the holiday season turns into too much of a whirlwind, arm yourself now with a handful of gifts you can bring with you to your gatherings throughout the holidays. Here they are — some of my favorites among the latest, greatest, rad gifts for your holiday host/ess.
For the posh entertainer: Obviously your host/ess already knows their stuff in this arena. But everyone who has friends over regularly can use another set of clever coasters, and this set is that, plus it’s beautiful to boot. The genuine Brazilian agate coasters ($29.99 on amazon.com) is a set of four, one-of-a-kind natural Brazilian agate slices, with protective rubber underneath so they don’t slide around on surfaces. They’re sleek and modern enough for any sophisticated design environment, yet bring in a subtle and tasteful natural element, too.
Another gift on a related drinks-centric note: One of the cutest, girly-but-wise set of cocktail napkins I’ve seen around say, “dress like Coco, live like Jackie, act like Audrey, laugh like Lucy” ($6 on thecraftybartender.com). The pack of 20 hot pink, 5-by-5-inch napkins are made without chlorine, and are three-ply, so they easily wipe up any drink you might spill while laughing like Lucy.
For the parent(s): I don’t know one parent who isn’t eager to do a fun and creative activity with their kid that will get them (sometimes both of them) off a screen. Mad Gab’s D.I.Y. Organic Shea Butter Lip Balm Kit ($40 on amazon.com) is made in the U.S.A., contains organic shea butter, organic beeswax, natural and organic raspberry and vanilla flavors, 10 tins, 10 labels and instructions, so your host/ess and kids can conjure up adorable little gifts for all of their friends together. (Or just keep them all for themselves.)
For the homebody: Some friends just love to snuggle up on the couch. Well actually, most of them do. But some make an Olympic-level sport of it. Those are the pals who deserve a super soft, warm-as-can-be throw. The Pines and Needles blanket ($135 on chappywrap.com) is holiday-perfect in its modern take on the classic winter quilt motif, and looks inviting on just about any sofa or bed.
For the gourmand: If you have yet to dive into a Panettone, those traditional Italian holiday loaves of cloudlike brioche, trust me: You haven’t truly holiday’d yet. It’s a gift absolutely everyone can get behind — and the Il Panettone al Pistacchio di Sicilia ($85 on neimanmarcus.com) is made even better with the addition of pistachios. Oh, and if you‘re staying the weekend, slice it up one morning and use it to make some of the most delicious French toast ever for the crowd. ’Nuff said.
For the gamers: Odds are good your friends have played Cards Against Humanity before, and probably have a version lying around the house. Add to the party’s fun with an additional new 2000s Nostalgia Pack ($5 on store.cardsagainsthumanity.com). It comes with 30 cards that highlight all that random, useless cultural knowledge we’ve all stored up over the last two decades — from butterfly clips and chunky highlights to whether you’re a Samantha or a Miranda.
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