Hostess Gifts That Will Get You Invited Back

It's that time of year again… when sometimes all you can manage is picking up a tub of pasta at the deli before dashing off to another holiday party. But with a little bit of thought, you can give a hostess gift that goes beyond the bottle of wine - and doesn't require a last-minute stop at the store. Our entertaining experts share their best suggestions.

1. Give something that's useful and that has personality
. "If they have dogs, a doggie treat. If they have kids, something for them. If they are gardeners, a cool tool for the garden," says lighting designer Greg Yale.
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2. Choose a specialty item,
one the host may not buy for themselves. For example, if the host enjoys cooking, give a bottle of infused olive oil. Denise Gee, author of Porch Parties, recommends flavors like Meyer lemon, white truffle, and rosemary.
Related: Beautiful Designer Kitchens

3. Splurge on packaging.
No matter the present or budget, it will look and feel much more special if it's beautiful wrapped. "For me, it's all about the packaging. I like to do a trio of candles nestled inside a beautiful hatbox with a big, bright bow," says party planner David Tutera. Tip: Stock up on beautiful ribbons when they go on sale after the holidays.
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4. Try a bottle of champagne instead of wine.
It always puts everyone in a festive mood. Designer Nathan Turner loves to share Laurent-Perrier rosé with his friends.
Related: Great Gifts Under $50

5. Be creative in how you give.
If attending a holiday party hosted by close friends or family, whom you also want to give a Christmas present to, a fun idea is a Flip video camera. Jes Gordon, event planner and author of Party Like a Rock Star says, "Take a Flip video camera and film the party, then leave it behind. They get a great gadget and a record of the evening."
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6. Give something that's surprising
. Try a box of Côté Bastide's Pamplemousse potpourri. Definitely not your grandmother's bowl of dusty, dried flower petals, this looks more like a collection of tiny gemstones, and is sure to dazzle, explains the owner of J. Design Antiques Garden in Oldwick, New Jersey. It's a perfect present because it's unexpected, beautiful, and the scent isn't overpowering, either.
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What is the best hostess gift you have received? What's the best present to give?

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.