To the Hostess with the Mostest


With the holiday season coming upon us, it’s inevitable that one will receive several

party invites. The time of year lends itself to celebration through giving. And thus the

conundrum begins. To bring or not to bring a gift for the hostess. What should I bring?

How much money should I be spending on said gift? As with any other gift, keep in

mind your relationship with the recipient. You wouldn’t give your boss the same gift that

you would give your best friend.

Although there is no tried and true rule book of etiquette when it comes to gifting the

hostess with a little something as thanks for the invite into her home, and although in all

honesty, most hosts and hostesses don’t throw parties with the expectation of receiving

gifts, it’s generally become the trend to NOT arrive empty-handed.



The most popular, simple and easiest option for a hostess gift is a good bottle of wine.


It’s a versatile gift and with the abundance of excellent wines that Niagara has to offer, there is no

shortage of variety to choose from. Whether you choose a red, rose, white, or even an ice wine, a

good bottle of wine is always appreciated.

Artisan jams and jellies in decorative little jars are a great choice. With Niagara also known

for its tender fruits, many local shops carry gift packages of these jams and jellies, ready to be

picked off the shelf. Other mainstream hostess gift ideas are: flowers, candies, potted plants, tins of

cookies, decorator candles, guest soaps…the list goes on. And because the holiday season brings

even more reason to throw a party, a hostess will most always welcome an ornament or decoration.

As great as these ideas are, they are…well…a little boring and safe. It’s time to grab the bull by

the horns and think out of the box for hostess gifts with choices that won’t just stand out and be

memorable, but will offer the personal touch of being hand-made.


hostess giftsPersonalized Coasters

Embellished cork coasters are a personal,

practical hostess gift, all the while protecting

table tops from guests’ frosty glasses. And

they are easy to make. All you need are cork

coasters, (available at any craft shop), masking

tape, vinyl letters, stencil brush, and craft paint.

Create stripes with masking tape and initials

with vinyl letters. Apply craft paint with the

stencil brush, let dry and remove tape. Tie them

together with a decorative ribbon and give with

a bottle of wine or a bottle of holiday spirit.


hot sauce giftHot Sauce

Leave the wine behind and show up with

something hot – like home-made hot sauce.

Depending on how much spice your host

likes, you can infuse vinegar with mild long

peppers, spicier Thai peppers, or five-alarm

habaneros. To make the sauce, sterilize halfor

three-quarter-liter glass bottles by using

the sterilize button on the dishwasher or

boiling them for 10 minutes. Wash peppers,

cut a slit in each (you’ll need about 20 per

half-liter bottle), and insert into bottles.

Meanwhile, heat 2 to 3 cups white vinegar,

or rice vinegar for a Thai version, to just

boiling. Funnel into bottles to fill; let cool,

and cork. Refrigerate. For giving, print tags

and attach them with twine.


hostess gift pecanSpiced Pecans

Trade in your store-bought cashews for these homemade

pecans that carry a kick. Place the finished product in a jar

and attach the recipe for a hostess gift with some zip. The

recipe is simple and easy. All you need is: 4 cups unsalted

pecan halves; 2 tbsp real maple syrup; 4 tsp of coarse salt;

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes; 1 tsp chili powder; 1 tsp

cayenne pepper; 1 tsp chili paste. Preheat oven to 300º F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine

all ingredients and 3 of the 4 tsp of salt. Toss to coat. Spread

nuts in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and toss with remaining tsp of salt and let

cool. Serve immediately or store at room temperature in an

air-tight container for up to one week.


pie carrier giftPie Carrier

A freshly baked pie is always a welcome gift — even

more so when it comes wrapped inside this unusual

but sensible container. A bamboo steamer is the ideal

size to transport a pie to your hostess’s door and can

hold two pies at once. Bamboo steamers are also easy

to find at pretty much any kitchen store. After placing

a lid on the steamer, secure with a piece of twill tape

                                                                       tied in a bow.


Scented Sugars

Scented sugar adds a subtle perfume and flavor to coffee, fruit

desserts, and baked goods. Layer granulated sugar with aromatic

edibles like scented geranium leaves, rose petals, orange and lemon

peel (first set out for a day to dry), or vanilla beans. Mix small

batches, and let them sit for a few days in tightly sealed jars while the

scents infuse the sugar. One jar or a trio makes an unusual present

for whomever you think could use a little sweetness.


sugar christmas gift

A Good Morning

A healthy breakfast is often the last thing on your hostess’s mind when she’s

planning a night of entertainment. Line a basket with vintage tea towels and

fill it with everything they need to start the day off right — coffee, tea, milk,

sugar, orange juice, scones, butter, and marmalade. hostess gifts




The above are just a sampling of some wonderful and unique

ideas that any hostess would love to receive. In the end,

though, the idea of getting together is to embrace our time

celebrating, laughing, sharing, living and loving. It’s about

spreading the holiday spirit and both giving and receiving.