Invited to a holiday dinner? A ski weekend? You’ll want to bring a gift for the host, of course. Here are some ideas that let you say “Thanks for having me!” in a cool, creative way.
The go-to item many people choose for a dinner party is a nice bottle of wine, and it’s a good gift, with a long shelf life and versatility. But think about jazzing up your offering with something extra that your hosts can enjoy long after the last glass of wine has been poured.
How about a set of faux yet realistic-looking wine cork candles that can be popped in an empty bottle? You’ll find nice ones at Uncommon Goods.
A package of acetate sheets that will remove and preserve a particularly beautiful wine bottle label? A gift set of wine tools, decanter and kitchen towel? Sur la Table has a good selection. The gourmet retailer also offers wreaths composed of herbs like rosemary, bay and sage — a gift that’s both decorative and edible.
For a family, a package of movie passes and a tin of popcorn is something the whole gang can enjoy.
Or Red Envelope offers a throw-pillow cover that you can personalize: Add mom and dad deer and as many fawns as there are children, then adorn with the family’s name and other details.
With friends, starting a tradition can be fun. One neighbor of mine makes the most delectable “Kentucky candied pecans” each year.
Janet Dickerson-Daley of Boston says a friend gave her a little foot-high evergreen tree one Christmas; she now has eight in the backyard. “It’s been my favorite hostess gift,” she says.
Gifts with some handcrafting are particularly nice. Martha Stewart’s holiday handbook offers ideas for making homemade limoncello and mini panettones; both are twists on the typical edible gift. If you’re crafty, try whipping up the lip balm recipe or the little felted wool animals, or custom-frosting a pillar candle in a fun color.
Several websites, including Mixbook and Shutterfly, can help you make a personalized calendar; consider taking pictures of a neighbor’s house each month, then putting them together.
If making a gift yourself doesn’t fit your schedule or your skill set, check out community farmers’ and holiday markets, and online sites such as Fab.com for limited edition treats and goods, often at great prices.
Sur la Table is offering wreaths composed of herbs like rosemary, bay and sage — a gift that’s both decorative and edible.
Lisa Price, an artist in Grand Rapids, Mich., makes charming linocut block-printed tea towels, and small pillows with images of pie slices, cabins, snowflakes and squirrels.
New York designer Alexandra Ferguson uses felt made from recycled water bottles for throw pillows with eye-catching typography. “Welcome Home,” ”Bon Appetit,” or “C’est si bon” would make fun host gifts.
Hand-hew, pillar-candle holders made from recycled, 19th century, Philadelphia wood-floor joists, from Peg & Awl, would appeal to both mid-century-modern lovers and historians.
Is your host artsy? Consider a Frank Lloyd Wright or Eames key ring from Acme Studio. A door holder from MOMA design store is emblazoned with the word “STOP” in comic book graphics. And from French Canadian e-tailer Iddko, an unusual pillow printed with the old Life magazine logo has a nice retro vibe.
www.etsy.com/shop/alexandraferguson – “Welcome Home” pillow, $99; “C’est si bon,” $109;
www.acmestudio.com – Frank Lloyd Wright or Eames key rings, $24;
www.redenvelope.com – deer family pillow, $39.95 and up;
www.surlatable.com – edible wreaths, $49.95 and up; acetate label lifts, $9.95 per package; wine tool gift set, $49.96;
www.etsy.com/shop/pegandawl – three-set wood candle holders, $39 and up;
www.momastore.org – “STOP” doorstop, $10;
www.shutterfly.com – personalized calendars, $20 and up;
www.uncommongoods.com – wine cork candles, 12 for $22;
www.mixbook.com – personalized calendars, $29.99 and up;
www.artgoodiesonline.com – tea towels, $18;
www.iddko.com – Life pillow, $35;
www.marthastewartliving.com – how-to craft gifts and edible gift recipes