hostess gifts

Best Hostess Gifts – Day 7 of 12 Days of Shopping

Last year I posted this and thought I had some pretty good ideas but trolling on Facebook turned up even better finds! Thank you, Leah Klein for sharing!  See Gather Here Stitch Lounge for even more

From Apartment Therapy – This really lovely hostess gift of Sparkling Jam Cocktail (by Maggie Battista of Eat Boutique)

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Once I was on the Apartment Therapy site, I was there for a while. I entered some giveaways (who knew they had giveaways?) and am hoping for the gorgeous kitchen island because we have a discussion every six months or so here –  pro or con kitchen island – and if I win it we don’t have to talk about it, it just shows up and I get my way win, I mean.

Then I found some gorgeous links to homemade hostess gifts that are so gorgeous, fun and creative and green.

Here is the Apartment Therapy’s link to Handmade Holidays: 5 DIY Green Gifts.

I know, lovely.


Not feeling crafty but want to give something that stands out? Check out Fish Eddy ( a find from an architect friend with a great eye – Chris Chu), a great NYC store with eclectic finds like the Obama Birther Certificate Tray.


I personally love all of the Roz Chast dinnerware – Browse away! See what Pragmatic Mom is up to with GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK.


12 Days of Shopping
 Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts Granola, Pragmatic Mom and  Capability Mom.

 Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

 Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers)

 Dec 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

 Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

 Dec 6High Tech/Low Tech

 Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

 Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?) and Emily Post’s Etiquette on this subject.

 Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

 Dec 10:  Dog/Cat

 Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

 Dec 12: ‘Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts:  Pragmatic Mom and Capability : Mom

Last Minute Gifts – Lest Panic Set in – Day 11

Has it happened to you? You forgot about the hostess gift and it is T minus 30 minutes (or whatever countdown/military thing goes here – you know what I mean). Anyway, you are late and frazzled and uninspired and have only time to go to the nearest supermarket. Not to worry!

Almost any supermarket will do – I went to Whole Foods (super score), Roche Brothers and Trader Joe’s – They have gift things year round anyway but even more now. Flowers, plants, greenery, a given. How about a cinnamon broom? The one pictured is from Trader Joe’s but Whole Foods has them, too. You can decorate it on the fly if you have ribbon and an ornament in your car (don’t laugh, sometimes I do).

There were packages of candy (chocolate covered graham crackers, nonpareils – on sale) in Whole Foods that would be great poured into a mug from the kitchen section (you can do this while you are running down the aisle to the checkout, I tried). Add to it package of drinkable chocolate and marshmallows or some divine coffee or tea. Great housewares in Whole Foods in general and also at Roche Brothers which has a nice Stonewall Kitchen section (I almost bought myself a brightly colored bowl, some sweet wooden spoons and pretty dishcloths but then I calmed down and didn’t. Sometimes, I do buy myself gifts like my new Smartwool socks. Sometimes I use my secret cache of gifts for last minute gifts…shhh).

Anyway, it’s also pretty easy to put together a gift basket at any of these markets – they even have baskets. Something edible is always a welcome gift. What to choose? A case of clementines, some pomegranates, some nice cheese and bread, a jug of cider (or wine if your store carries it) and some mulling spices (either sold pre-packaged or head over to the bulk section and mix your own). Don’t forget the health and beauty aisle and my local store even has toys (my standby gift for kids is Melissa and Doug’s triangle crayons and a notepad) and they have CDs and plants (great rosemary trees)

Here are some tips from the Whole Foods blog on greening your holidays.

  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 small whole nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup whole allspice
  • Grated peel of one whole orange

Chip the cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice with a hammer. Place with other ingredients in a storage container. To use, place two tablespoons of mixture in a small muslin bag and add to four cups of beverage. Simmer. This recipe makes one and one half cups of mulling spice.


Mulling Spice with Cardamom

This is a slightly different mulling spices recipe, with the addition of cardamom seeds. The cardamom adds a warm, faintly citrus taste to the mulled beverage.capability mom finds mulling spices on lovetoknow

  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind
  • 12 whole cinnamon sticks

Combine first four ingredients. Put two teaspoons of the mixture into a small muslin bag and tie two or three cinnamon sticks to the top. Simmer in four cups of beverage. This makes a beautiful gift. Go to Pragmatic Mom’s site to see what great gifts she found at the gourmet market. She has exceptional taste and I am so looking forward to seeing what goodies she comes up with.

The 12 Days of Shopping

Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

Dec 4: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

Dec 6: High Tech/Low Tech

Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

Dec 10: Dog/Cat

Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Dec 12: ’Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts: Cookies & Personalized Holiday Tags

Best Hostess Gifts – Day 7 of The 12 Days of Shopping

Anne Taintor napkins, coasters, magnets, capability mom loves them allI love finding great hostess gifts, really. It’s fun and easy to create a signature gift. Anything Anne Taintor is fabulous.

Why Whine:

There is the favorite I-don’t-know-what-to-bring-or-even-if-this-is-decent-because-I-am-re-gifting-it bottle of wine – it is what you do with it. The Dollar Spot in Target is filled with great wrapping paper, cello and gift bags. anthropologie and sur la table dishtowels from capability mom Deliver the wine with a bow or personalize it with your own art work (get out the Mod Podge!), ribbons or ornaments. I keep a stash of Target ornaments and papers that I use for package decorations. Affix the tag to ribbon or write your message on the package.

Let’s Dish:

I also pick up pretty dishtowels throughout the year, holiday themed or not, you can use them as wrapping paper for wine, baked goods or tuck them into a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon and the dry ingredients and recipe for your favorite holiday treats.

Chow Down:
Choccapability mom finds the best chocolate gift - and they are mice LA Burdickolate is always a favorite and you don’t have to spend a lot but feel free to upgrade, you can also go higher end both container and chocolate to make it even more special. I have found great containers at Target, Marshall’s, T.J. Max, Home Goods and The Container Store. The best chocolate (both in presentation and taste) I ever received was from this company, L.A. Burdick, and I may have eaten this box by myself, maybe.
Plant an Idea:
Prarosemary tree from Whole Foods Market by Capability Mom Bloggmatic Mom likes to give a lemon cypress or a rosemary tree. I got one last year that I didn’t kill kept alive for three months finally succumbed to my inattention. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both have them for under $10. You could decorate it with little tiny presents or bows but they are gorgeous as is, smell terrific and you can tuck a favorite rosemary recipe in the card.

Spice It Up:

This is an item that I have long coveted – Dean & Deluca’s Spice rack. Cool, modern and a little geeky, which I love, of course. capability mom has long coveted this spice rack from dean and delucaIt is on the splurge side, so if you want to do this less expensively, pick up nice spices at your favorite local place like Sofra Bakery or you could head to Target for this cool Trudeau 16-bottle spice rack – $31.99. Still not what you are looking for? The Cheese Shop in Wellesley has spectacular food gifts and makes the best gift baskets. Also try Formaggio Kitchen – great cheese, chocolates and more in Cambridge and Hi-Rise Bakery – also Cambridge – for their own jams and a nice selection of wines (they package everything beautifully). Still not what you are looking for? Try Uncommon Goods, Black Ink or Just Next Door.

I almost forgot one of my favorite holiday haunts…Fastachi in Watertown – homemade chocolates, roasted nuts, specialty candy and nut butter (try the almond) – all prettily packaged, fresh and delicious.

Day 3 – Pretty and Personalized Papers

goldfish stationery from Paper Source - capability mom
Paper Source Kid's Stationery


Luckily I live fairly close to two Paper Source Stores which are only mildly addicting…grin. I can spend a lot of time in one of their stores. Often my ideas for crafting exceed my skill level (low) but I am trying to keep a handle on that and just buy the pre-made things. All of the papers (stationery, wrapping and note cards) are gorgeous, vibrant and whimsical. I usually use plain card for holiday cards with a photo glued on – I have seen (from uber-crafty friends) gorgeous homemade cards – using ribbon, stamps and more.  Also, it is one of my default places to shop for little stocking stuffers (I also like Urban Outfitters) and a sweet local store in Newton, Just Next Door where I always come up with something special – it is one of those stores that truly does have something for everyone on your gift list. If you are not lucky enough to have a local treasure like this, to the internet!

There are even more fun designs here (Pragmatic Mom told me about this great site) at Pixie Chicago. These terrific paper designs are from the family-kids section:

capability mom finds great paper gifts here at

capability mom finds paper = pretty and personaiized at pixie chicago

and my favorite flower – hydrangea – on these cards:

hydrangea paper from capability mom

You can also see their collection on – have you shopped Etsy? Talk about a treasure trove of handmade gifts! This personalized stationery fits the bill for teachers, friends, baby gifts (one of my favorite gifts when my daughter was born was a set of personalized stationery – her own thank you notes!). Check out Pragmatic Mom for her great ideas for personalized gifts.

Happy shopping and stay tuned for more shopping tips!

Mon, Dec 13:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Tue, Dec 14:  Tutors/Teachers

Wed, Dec 15:  High Tech/Low Tech

Thu, Dec 16:  Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

Fri, Dec 17:  Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer

Sat, Dec 18:  Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List)

Sun, Dec 19:  Dog/Cat

Mon, Dec 20:  Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Tue, Dec 21:  ’Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts

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